Arguably one of the most intellectual of today's conservative media commentators, George Will produces a newspaper column that promulgates views on any and all political topics. In recent months, he has weighed in on health care, Spain's alternative energy program, the government bailout of General Motors, the significance of the death of Robert McNamara, regulation of tobacco, and the Supreme Court's ruling in the Ricci (New Haven firefighters) case.
Like many entertainers masquerading as sources of news and analysis, Will rarely passes up an opportunity to criticize liberals and successful government programs, usually out of the side of his mouth. On 6/11/09, for example, he refers to "the preposterous entitlement to collect Social Security at age 62." He fails to mention that people opting for such payments forego a significant portion of the monthly benefits they would receive if they retired at a later age. Will apparently feels no empathy (oh, that's a "bad word" these days) for workers who have paid into the system for at least 10 years (and probably much longer) and who now wish to enjoy some leisure time. (Perhaps opting out of the capitalistic rat race is something Will simply can't comprehend; what higher calling could there be than making more money?)
Continuing his first amendment right to engage in linguistic legerdemain, Will says (6/19/09) that "In a 1998 settlement, 46 states conspired to seize $206 billion from companies selling legal tobacco products..." An impartial observer might have said that "46 states cooperated in using the judicial system to hold tobacco companies liable for alleged infractions of laws and regulations duly adopted by democratic legislative bodies." Using neutral language, however, would be have been so, well, like Walter Cronkite.
Not content to lambaste President Obama by utilizing oblique literary references ("But the capitol, gripped once again by the audacious hope of mastering everything..." 7/10/09), Will apparently cannot stand the fact that we now have a President who accepts responsibility for his actions and speaks the English language. When our leader dares to use the word "I," Will denigrates him for being "inordinately fond of the first-person singular pronoun" (6/7/09). Where was his vehement protest when George W. Bush proclaimed "I am the decider"?
Will loves pointing out apparent inconsistencies using mildly clever language. "Washington mandates that Detroit must build cars for which there is much less demand than Washington demands that there be" (6/7/09). When you finish chuckling, remember that small, fuel-efficient cars are best-sellers. Until the recent recession, Toyota and Honda could barefly keep up with the demand. I don't mind "mildly clever" as long as the facts are correct, but Will has not mastered the art of presenting a comprehensive picture of a complex situation.
I absolutely love this one: "Government is incapable of behaving like market-disciplined private insurers" (6/21/09). What?? Could Will possibly be referring to the oligarchy of health care insurance companies that is raising premiums much faster than general inflation and using every trick in the book (legal and otherwise?) to avoid paying expensive legitimate claims by denying coverage ex post facto? Has he forgotten that MediCare, while far from perfect, is successfully providing health care to millions of Americans?
On 7/10/09, Will berates "behavioralists" (I think he means "behaviorists") for believing in "nation-building" (hmm, how quickly we forget the rationale Bush used to justify the war in Iraq once it became clear there were no WMDs). "Liberals," he says, "tend to treat hopes as probabilities," suggesting that it "would be wise to entertain a shadow of a doubt...that history is linear and progressive."
I would like to see George Will occasionally entertain a shadow of a doubt about what he apparently views as his own omniscience.