Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.”     Robert A. Heinlein,    Life Line

June 18, 2009

It’s time for ABC News to put a libertarian in the White House

by Stephen Gordon

On June 24th, to be specific. And the obvious libertarian’s name is John Stossel.

For those not following the story, ABC News has announced the following:

Next Wednesday June 24 at 10pmET Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer will moderate what ABC News calls “a primetime conversation” with President Obama about the future of U.S. health care.

During the discussion from the East Room, President Obama will answer questions from an audience made up of Americans selected by ABC News. ABC’s medical editor Dr. Timothy Johnson will also take part.

“Good Morning America” and “World News” will originate from the White House next Wednesday and the conversation will continue later on Nightline.

This has prompted criticism from the Republican National Committee.

“Today, the Republican National Committee requested an opportunity to add our Party’s views to those of the President’s to ensure that all sides of the health care reform debate are presented,” responded Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay. “Our request was rejected. I believe that the President should have the ability to speak directly to the America people. However, I find it outrageous that ABC would prohibit our Party’s opposing thoughts and ideas from this national debate, which affects millions of ABC viewers.

A couple of days ago, I made the case that ABC should consider adding John Stossel to the lineup. Today, Michelle Malkin and Allahpundit jumped on board the same bandwagon. Malkin:

ABC News says it welcomes “thoughtful” and “diverse” voices on its White House health care special.

Why not include ABC 20/20 anchor John Stossel? I have confirmed that he has not been asked to be a part of the programming.

Why not?

When it comes to thoughtful and diverse perspectives on freedom, government, and the marketplace, no one matches Stossel.

Allahpundit asked: “Michelle: Will libertarian John Stossel be part of ABC’s Obama infomercial?”  His answer: “Good question, especially given his history of covering the issue. The answer, I’m guessing, is no, since ABC seems intent on excluding representatives of alternative viewpoints even if lip service ends up being paid to those viewpoints in the questions that are asked of The One.”

In addition to McKay, RNC Chairman Michael Steele is having a conniption fit.

“The liberal special interests have clearly learned from their missteps the last time they tried to force Americans into a socialized health care system — the abysmal failure of the Clinton Administration’s ‘HillaryCare,’” Steele wrote. “That’s why their friends at ABC News will be promoting Obamacare at virtually every opportunity, from ‘Good Morning America’ to ‘Nightline,’ and reach from ABC News’ websites all the way to the White House’s East Room.”

In my article, one of the reasons I suggested that a libertarian should be engaged in the debate is that Republican leaders have lost any credibility on the issue.

For starters, I agree with ABC’s position that Republican Party leadership should not be engaged in the debate, albeit for a different reason. The Republican leadership recently lobbied for and supported the largest government intervention into the health care marketplace with Medicare Part D.  They aren’t qualified to act as the spokepersons for the opposition.  Like a pack of hyenas battling over a dead carcass, one could easily argue that GOP leaders — along with the AMA, pharmaceutical companies and the insurance industry  — wish to engage in the debate to ensure they get their proper share of the spoils.

In another example, Karl Rove just “used an example of socialized medicine he helped to promote to illustrate why Democratic socialized medicine is bad, but Republican socialized medicine is good.”  Additionally, senior Republicans are more concerned about quibbling over the details and making adjustments to their speaking points than for making arguments based on principles. Senior Republicans seem happy with ObamaCare Lite, so long their preferred benefactors are the ones who get the benefit of the taxpayers’ dollar.

When libertarians take to the stage, they are typically critical of both major parties. Just from recent television appearances of writers on this site, Jason Pye told Neil Cavuto that he rejects the notion that there may be no groundswell of popular support at recent Tea Parties. “I think, honestly, that conservatives and Republicans were thrown out of office because they forgot their values,” said Pye. “They forgot what they believed in.”

“Newt Gingrich could be one of these two tea bags, because he likes his tea bags sweetened, let’s say, with TARP funding,” I recently stated on the Rachel Maddow Show.  “And this other one could be Mike Huckabee.  We call him Tax Hike Mike in my circles because he likes his tea bag with tax increases.

Additionally, Stossel is on top of his game when it comes to health care reform. After I asked Stossel an ObamaCare question on this program, Judge Andrew Napolitano responded: “Your argument is so logical. It’s pure Economics 101.”

The way I see it, ABC News can make one of three choices right now:

  1. They can continue on their current path and receive a considerable amount of just criticism for some time to come.
  2. They can provide a balance of ObamaCare and ObamaCare Lite by including senior GOP leaders.  As their lack of new and alternative ideas has already caused voters to reject them in 2006 and 2008, this seems a fairly moronic idea.
  3. They could throw in the only real and the only principled opposition to ObamaCare by including libertarians in the debate.

On June 25th, we’ll all know just how serious ABC News is about “looking for the most thoughtful and diverse voices on this issue.”

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17 Comments

  1. [...] poster, where Posts about Michelle … Malkin and other bloggers posted about a young girl … It’s time for ABC News to put a libertarian in the White House – thelibertypapers.org 06/18/2009 On June 24th, to be specific. And the obvious libertarian’s [...]

    Pingback by Posts about Michelle Malkin as of June 18, 2009 » The Daily Parr — June 18, 2009 @ 3:41 pm
  2. Interesting. So, Republicans like Jeff Flake, Tom McClintock and Mike Pence have “lost all credibility” on the health care issue, ‘eh?

    If the GOP has lost any credibility it’s due to the massive assault on the Party by the ultra-liberal media.

    We Libertarians will never progress until we learn a fundamental fact: the Liberal Media is the enemy.

    It’s a mighty shame that Stephen Gordon, an otherwise intelligent and articulate individual, has chosen to bash Republicans rather than the liberal media.

    Comment by Eric Dondero — June 19, 2009 @ 2:22 am
  3. Americans are too stupid to realize that this isn’t a ‘discussion’. It’s an infomercial. Might as well invite Joan Rivers on to hock jewelry. The FAUXTUS is so enamored with himself on television he can’t tear himself away from it. He drips narcissism. He is gross.

    Comment by Red — June 19, 2009 @ 8:22 am
  4. I agree 100% that John Stossel should be included in this, for the purpose of asking some very tough questions, and to present his always well thought out, and logical viewpoints. [I've always been a big fan of Stossel]. Which is of course why he, or someone like him, can not be permitted to disrupt the info-mercial.

    But it is a shame you had to take it a step further and use your opportunity to communicate, to trash the ONLY possible opposition to the HopeyChangitude Freight Train that currently exists in this country. And your denigration must naturally include the typical (on this site) intellectually dishonest and intentionally disingenuous tactic of lumping together Conservatives and Republicans – as if they are always one and the same in every instance and therefore automatically interchangeable.

    Which you know damn well they aren’t.

    Gosh I wonder whether the concept of reaching out and attempting to form alliances and coalitions with people who are “flawed” in some of their thinking, and not as “ideologically pure” as you pure as the driven snow Libertarians – but who at least share SOME of the same values on critical issues like 2A rights, the free enterprise system, and a smaller federal government – MIGHT be a better long term strategy for achieving progress on your goals than just looking down your nose at them. Ya think?

    Comment by southernjames — June 19, 2009 @ 9:30 am
  5. Gosh I wonder whether the concept of reaching out and attempting to form alliances and coalitions with people who are “flawed” in some of their thinking, and not as “ideologically pure” as you pure as the driven snow Libertarians – but who at least share SOME of the same values on critical issues like ending the war on drugs, basic civil rights like habeus corpus, and getting the government out of our bedrooms and churches – MIGHT be a better long term strategy for achieving progress on your goals than just looking down your nose at them. Ya think?

    Comment by tfr — June 19, 2009 @ 10:05 am
  6. Eric,

    I like and generally agree with Flake and McClintock, but note that I referred to GOP leadership. I’m talking about folks like Gingrich, Rove, Huckabee, etc. I was trying to be clear that I wasn’t blaming most Republicans, but their leaders.

    Comment by Stephen Gordon — June 19, 2009 @ 10:25 am
  7. tfr,

    I don’t mind alliances and coalitions and work with them (on both the left and the right) often. There are lines which need to be drawn, though. As one example, promoting a bailout bill or Medicare Part D seems to be a fair litmus test for fiscal conservatism.

    Comment by Stephen Gordon — June 19, 2009 @ 10:26 am
  8. “Ending the war on drugs” and “getting the government out of our bedrooms” (whatever that means) and “out of our churches” (whatever that means) are examples of goals which might NOT be shared by all conservatives and libertarians.

    My point was, has repeatedly been on this site, and will continue to be, that there ARE certain goals which are SHARED, however, and which should form the glue by which alliances can be created.

    And call me crazy, but it seems to me, that issues such as whether drugs should be legalized or not legalized, while certainly important, are not AS critical at this particular juncture of our history, as the need for like-minded people to unite to fight the encroaching statist soft totalitarianism which the leftists who are now in control of two out of three and soon to be three out of three branches of the government, is rushing to install – as THEIR allies at places such as ABC News, cheer them on.

    Comment by southernjames — June 19, 2009 @ 10:38 am
  9. James, do you really want to tell us (TLP contributors) about intellectual dishonesty?

    For starters, let’s take a look at the leading “conservative” challengers to the “moderate” (some would say “liberal”) John McCain. Conservative Republicans preferred the likes of Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. Mike Huckabee, aside from his evangelical social conservative policy proposals, was almost indistinguishable from John Edwards in his attacks on capitalism. Mitt Romney signed a government healthcare bill when he was governor of Massachusetts. At least on economic matters, neither are what I think of as “conservative.”

    Of course the Republicans ultimately chose John McCain as their nominee for president. Many conservatives “held their noses” in voting for McCain to vote against Obama, though if they were truly intellectually honest, they would have supported Bob Barr instead (but spare me the whole “Barr didn’t have a chance” routine).

    If you want intellectual honesty, take a look through TLP archives during the GOP primary. Most of us generally supported Dr. Paul but we were also very critical of his campaign (you should see some of the hateful comments directed at Doug from the Paulistininans, especially when he wrote about the Stormfront controversy). We took plenty of shots at Bob Barr as well. We are probably harder on our fellow travelers than the Democrats and Republicans (at least at times).

    For myself at least, this blog is all about intellectual honesty. Let me take this opportunity be honest about why I can no longer support the GOP.

    I voted for George W. Bush on 4 occasions. I voted for him for Governor of Texas in 1996 (as I was a Texan at the time), I voted for him in the GOP primary in 2000, and supported him in both general elections for president. I naively thought he would be economically conservative, shrink the size of the federal government, and enact the “Contract with America” (as there would be a friend in the White House; the CWA also turned out to be a fraud).

    I also supported “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and generally trusted Bush’s approach to the “War on Terror.”

    This is all very embarrassing for me to admit now but it took me about halfway through Bush’s second term before I realized how foolish I had been. I felt betrayed but in all honesty I cannot blame Bush or the Republicans but myself. It wasn’t really a secret what Bush’s intentions were in the 2000 campaign but I decided to choose “the lesser of two evils” and believed that the GOP was at least slightly more libertarian than the Democrats.

    What I have found is that Republicans like to speak libertarian when running for office or when out of power. But the very second they have control of the levers of power they no longer care about libertarian issues. More often than not, the GOP sides with the social cons and basically tell us to screw off.

    How’s that for intellectual honesty?

    Comment by Stephen Littau — June 19, 2009 @ 11:04 am
  10. What I find intellectually dishonest is the flat out refusal to acknowledge that true conservatives were every bit as disappointed in how Bush turned out the final few years of his term, and how disappointed true conservatives were the national GOP’s choice of McCain to be the party nominee, as YOU were. Instead we get all lumped together – repeatedly – as “people who speak Libertarian until they get power.”

    And no, Bob Barr did NOT have a snowball’s chance in hell. Sorry. Third party candidates simply draw votes from one or the other of the two primary candidates. 17% of the voting populace who were pissed off at Bush Senior but could not stomach the thought of the Slickster from Arkansas, stomped their feet and made their little “statement” and got their little moment of visceral satisfaction – and by their noble act of defiance in pulling the lever for Ross Perot, did nothing more and nothing less than sweep Billy Jeff into the white house.

    If you thought GWB was worthy of your vote in 1996 AND in 2000 AND in 2004, well he must have been doing SOMETHING right all those years to earn your repeated confidence. Unless you’re saying you were a complete and total fool that entire time, and/or that Bush was the most magical of all hypnotists. Or was he just the “least worse choice” at times – something I thought you just indicated you disapproved of.

    Lots of us felt let down by what Bush turned into his second term. Yes, even millions of us who tend towards that (hateful to you) “social” brand of conservatism.

    But it is even disingenous and intellectually dishonest to lump all of US together. For example, I am pro-life (ooh, evil social con) but I couldn’t care less whether gay marriage passes -other than believing as Dick Cheney does, that it should be a state issue and not decided by a SC decision parsing and torturing various “penumbras” to reach its desired outcome.

    Betrayal? I was a huge supporter of Mel Martinez, if you want to talk about betrayal. Now that’s betrayal.

    As for supporting or not supporting the GOP in the future – it is clearly not a uniform monolith, whether you are willing to acknowledge it or not. For example, if you pay close attention it is clear that the “moderate” country-club big government Beltway leadership currently in control, is scared shitless of Sarah Palin and her populist flyover-country grass roots appeal she has to literally millions of people (in spite of her various shortcomings as a viable future presidential candidate). Perhaps scared of what she represents would be a better way to put it.

    And there ARE some GOP politicians who are conservative. They need to be supported and re-elected. And Rinos like Charlie Crist need to get defeated.

    Bottom line is — There is a growing groundswell sentiment of smaller government, lower taxes, control of the size and spending, movement beginning to take hold. Representing a potential voting bloc in the TENS of millions – and there is an opportunity to latch onto, and harness this energy in order to finally get some momentum for a few core (what I perceive at least to be) Libertarian ideals to come to fruition.

    Even if that means holding YOUR nose and rubbing shoulders at say, Tea Party events, with people who may be say, against legalizing drugs and/or who are pro-life, or who are still (gasp) registered Republicans – instead of scorning them.

    Comment by southernjames — June 19, 2009 @ 12:16 pm
  11. James:

    “If you thought GWB was worthy of your vote in 1996 AND in 2000 AND in 2004, well he must have been doing SOMETHING right all those years to earn your repeated confidence. Unless you’re saying you were a complete and total fool that entire time, and/or that Bush was the most magical of all hypnotists. Or was he just the “least worse choice” at times – something I thought you just indicated you disapproved of.”

    I grew up in a VERY conservative home and I was attracted to the more ‘libertarian’ aspects of the GOP. From 1996 to now, my thinking has evolved a great deal (as one would hope; I was 19 in 1996). My thinking evolved because I have also learned a great deal in that time. I was brought up on Rush Limbaugh and the simplistic notion that Republicans are good/ Democrats are bad. I was taught that Republicans stood for smaller government, lower taxes, and more freedom (which is what I still stand for) and the Democrats stood for the opposite.

    As I started ‘coming of age’ politically, I realized that this was not always the case. In my 20’s I recognized that the Republicans were only ‘marginally better’ on certain issues and worse on others (especially civil liberties) but still thought of the GOP as the lesser of 2 evils.

    Of course early into Bush’s first term 9/11 happened. I got swept up into the hysteria that followed like many others did. I believed the most important issue was national security and the other issues which were important to me were placed on the back burner. Still believing that Bush was a better choice than Kerry, I voted accordingly.

    I was willing to compromise my values for GWB in those elections and have serious regrets about doing so. Watching Iraq and Afghanistan turn into a quagmire, this has been a very painful learning experience for me.

    I foolishly thought that preemptive war was a good strategy for making the US and world a safer place. Today we learn that North Korea is threatening to launch a test missile less than 1,000 mile from Hawaii. These wars have made us war weary and less able to deal with true threats to the U.S.

    Are we safer now than pre 9/11? I think not.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — June 19, 2009 @ 1:06 pm
  12. I think we became safer post-9/11 than pre-9/11 up until around oh, early 2009. At which point in time, I believe the philosophy on national security underwent a change – -which is ongoing.

    I think that those who want us dead have perceived that they are faced with James Earl Carter, Version II (who unlike you who came of age in the 90′s, I lived through and remember).

    I don’t think our incursion into Iraq, and any subsequent “war weariness” we may currently have, has anything to do with what NK is doing now, or has done in the past dozen years; or has anything to do with our responses to NK over the past dozen years or our ability or will to respond or not respond to NK, today.

    A belief that our being too “bogged down” or distracted, or overextended in Afganinstan is the reason we find ourselves either unable or unwilling to deal with NK, is bullshit. Just my opinion.

    Unlike you, who came of age in the mid-nineties, I have been voting and following politics since 1976. I have been disappointed most of the time with the GOP, and more often than not, have chosen the GOP presidential candidate as the “lesser of two evils” also.

    As a conservative registered Repub, the 2008 election was the first time I considered abandoning that voting philosophy and sitting it out. Had the Dems nominated a Gore-2000, or a Clinton-92 or 96, or maybe even a Kerry-2004, type, I probably would have sat it out.

    But I viewed the proposition of Obama in the WH to be a disaster. I for one, never for one minute bought into the fantasy that he would become a “centrist,” once he got into the WH.. I also kind of liked Sarah Palin – mostly only for “contrarian” reasons – anybody the establishment media hates so very passionately, most surely have some good points. The enemy of my enemy is my friend sort of thing, with her.

    Oh, and you are wrong about Limbaugh. I am not a fan and rarely listen to him. Too bombastic, and full of himself. But he has NEVER stood for the proposition of “Republicans good; Democrats bad.” If that is what you think, you either never were a listener or you never paid attention. It has always been: “Conservatism good; Liberalism bad” with him. There is a difference. He consistently RIPPED McCain in 2008. And only came around under the “lessor of two evils” philosophy.

    Since a third party guy is NOT going to win.

    Comment by southernjames — June 19, 2009 @ 1:32 pm
  13. A third party can win. The other two parties and the media have made it extremely difficult but it can and in my opinion will be done in our lifetime, unless one of the parties makes dramatic changes. Both parties have evolved to be pretty much just one party with slight differences. They are driving our country into the ground. At some point when the country is in economic shambles or we are finally fed up a third party will step up and replace one of the other parties. As I said they have basically morphed into one party anyway.

    IMO, if Ross Perot was handsome, more articulate, had a voice that was more “normal”, and didn’t screw up the end of the campaign he would have likely been our President or at least came within a eyelash of the Presidency. The one thing that many of the national candidates that are for smaller gov’t have in common is dare I say nerdishness or dorkiness. Case in point: Ross Perot, Steve Forbes, and Ron Paul.

    As far as libertarians and the like giving the Presidency to Clinton, that is just horse crap. It was the conservatives who did that. If they had voted for the most conservative candidate, they would have obviously voted for Perot (or some other third party candidate) over Bush I. Instead they voted for Bush I and gave the presidency to Clinton just because they didn’t think a third party could win or maybe they just weren’t very conservative and liked big gov’t be it through Bush or Clinton. Just as many libertarians have betrayed their principles and voted for the lesser of two evils, the conservatives betrayed their supposed principles and voted for Bush I over a far more conservative candidate who would have had a very good chance of winning with their votes.

    Comment by TerryP — June 19, 2009 @ 7:20 pm
  14. Stephen, I take your point. However, John Shaddegg, an RLC member since the 1990s, and libertarian-conservative Eric Cantor are both part of the “Republican leadership.” Mike Pence is, as well.

    Yeah, Boehner is a bit of an idiot. But when you bash the “GOP leadership,” you are including a fine libertarian – John Shaddegg, and two fine libertarian-conservatives, Mike Pence and Eric Cantor.

    I really do believe you need to seriously consider retracting your anti-GOP statements above.

    Eric Dondero, Publisher
    Libertarian Republican

    Comment by Eric Dondero — June 20, 2009 @ 4:18 am
  15. james,

    What I find intellectually dishonest is the flat out refusal to acknowledge that true conservatives were every bit as disappointed in how Bush turned out the final few years of his term, and how disappointed true conservatives were the national GOP’s choice of McCain to be the party nominee, as YOU were. Instead we get all lumped together – repeatedly – as “people who speak Libertarian until they get power.”

    Bottom line is — There is a growing groundswell sentiment of smaller government, lower taxes, control of the size and spending, movement beginning to take hold. Representing a potential voting bloc in the TENS of millions – and there is an opportunity to latch onto, and harness this energy in order to finally get some momentum for a few core (what I perceive at least to be) Libertarian ideals to come to fruition.

    The difference between us, I think, is that most conservatives believe that if they “remake” the Republican party and finally elect a majority based upon the above goals, that we will actually see those goals make it into legislation.

    As Stephen [Littau] points out, he expected GWB coming into office to be a chance for a Republican Majority Congress and Republican President to finally put some of the principles of the Contract With America into law.

    But they didn’t. They felt the trappings of power and did WHATEVER they thought would best keep them in it.

    tarran here has often used the analogy of a battered wife for typical voters (whether Republican or Democrat). Voters keep getting crapped on by the system, but they don’t blame the system itself. They assume that it can “change”.

    Conservatives aren’t identical to Republicans. But conservatives are mistaken if they truly believe that they’ll ever get mainstream Republican politicians to reduce their own power in any meaningful way. Politicians buy votes, and power is their currency. You may put better ones in office, but the trappings of office change them before they do any good.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — June 20, 2009 @ 7:44 am
  16. Eric,

    It’s a generalization designed to separate the folks who have screwed up the GOP from the rank-and-file folks who generally have good instincts, at least on fiscal issues, but suffer from generally piss-poor leadership.

    The alternative would have been to write: “I agree with ABC’s position that Republican Party leadership (with the exception of [insert entire spreadsheet with libertarian rating system here]) should not be engaged in the debate”

    Comment by Stephen Gordon — June 20, 2009 @ 8:01 am
  17. I came across an interesting blog post from a Canadian bemoaning their health care system. http://forums.leasticoulddo.com/index.php?showtopic=29768 It seemed relevant to the discussion of “health care” since Democrats are constantly pointing to Canada and saying “why cant we have free health care like them?”

    Comment by Peter — June 22, 2009 @ 8:35 am

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