Generally speaking, I try to avoid implying that liberal wonks are somehow fundamentally superior to conservative wonks. This includes suggestions that, for example, the former tend to be tolerably intellectually honest while the latter tend toward hackdom. Or that liberals mostly maintain consistent positions while conservatives cheerfully shift sides based on little more than who’s in office and what the current party line is.
Yessiree. I try to avoid saying things like that. But good Lord, conservatives sure make it hard to maintain this pretense. For today’s example, click here to see Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation explain why he’s suddenly changed his mind on the individual mandate. Ezra Klein very kindly responds that he would “find this more persuasive if there were evidence that the shift predated President Obama’s embrace of the policy,” but I will less kindly say that Butler’s explanation is simply risible. Nobody with more than a fourth-grade education would take it even remotely seriously. The truth is that he thought the mandate was a fine idea until Barack Obama endorsed it, the entire conservative movement declared it the work of Satan, and he then needed to change his mind or be drummed out of polite society.
Maybe I’m blinkered, but I simply can’t imagine a liberal wonk explaining a flip-flop with such transparently laughable arguments. But I’m open to examples that I might have forgotten.