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Stalin, Mao, Kristol

Bill Kristol catches the following quote from Nancy Pelosi making the rounds in the conservative fever swamps...

“We see [health care reform as] a bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care. You won’t have to be job-locked.”

...and cites this line as evidence of the Democrats' "dangerously utopian liberationism."

Since the Standard has already blatantly distorted a Pelosi quote about a similar subject before with no correction, the first thing I did was check to see if Kristol has doctored Pelosi's quote to change its meaning. And sure enough, he has. Here's Pelosi's actual statement:

We see it as an entrepreneurial bill — a bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative...

Notice the part Kristol omitted?  "An entrepreneurial bill." Kristol paints the line as an encouragement to people to quite their jobs and becomes wards of the state pursuing their passion. But that of course is not what she said at all. The health care system prevents individuals from starting their own business or working for themselves because affordable individual health insurance is frequently unobtainable. One purpose of health care reform is to remove health insurance as the determining factor for individuals choosing between working for an employer or working on their own. Democrats are not, of course, proposing to provide some kind of welfare dole to individuals who wish to create art rather than work. Musician and artist, Kristol may be interested to learn, are actual job categories. And Pelosi was speaking to musicians and artists, so her emphasis on that category of self-employed businessperson is perfectly sensible.

Of course, one reason Kristol made this line the centerpiece of a Standard editorial is that artists and musicians are a prime example of the class of people who are Not Real Americans. Kristol never loses an opportunity to employ the classic trope of communist propaganda, embraced by neoconservatives on their journey from far left to far right, of painting liberals as coastal cosmopolitans, intellectuals, and other untrustworthy categories. Their party represents the worker-farmer class heroes. Kristol builds to a conclusion featuring this classic piece of self-parody:

So for conservatives, it’s jobs in the day and tea parties after dinner, with hunting and church and patriotic parades on the weekends.

I wonder how many of those activities, aside from perhaps the odd hunting excursion with Dick Cheney or some Republican lobbyist, does Kristol actually participate in on a regular basis.