Dana Milbank’s Weird and Un-American Concept of Loyalty

blind followers

This happens now and then—I consider posting on a topic, decide, “Nah, I must be the only one who sees it this way,” and then another commentator—one people actually pay attention to—flags exactly the same issue I decided nobody would notice or care about. This time it was James Taranto, one of my favorites, who saw the same disturbing sensibilities that I did in Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank’s bizarre column today.

Titled “Why millennials have abandoned Obama,” the Post’s flakiest liberal accuses young voters of disloyalty to their hero because they don’t want to sacrifice their own autonomy and well-being to help the President’s misbegotten health care bill succeed. It is well-known that a sufficient number of young Americans must sign up for health care insurance—which, for them, is over-priced under the law—to make the rest of the numbers add up. So far, they aren’t doing it. Milbank:

“The administration announced last week that only 1.08 million people ages 18 to 34 had signed up for Obamacare by the end of February, or about 25 percent of total enrollees. If the proportion doesn’t improve significantly, the result likely will be fatal for the Affordable Care Act.”

Milbank then makes the jaw-dropping argument that Obama should take this personally, that it is a betrayal by his troops in his hour of need. After all, Milbank tells us, these were the same voters who elected Obama, seeing him as a transformative candidate. Shouldn’t they be willing to sacrifice now and make their health insurance decisions according what will be best for him?

What??? Of course not! Oh, I have no question that the President thinks this way. It was Obama, after all, whose solution to the depressing unemployment numbers has been to tell business leaders to hire more people, because he said so, and because it would make his policies look more successful. Businesses would be happy to hire more employees, of course, if the stuttering administration didn’t keep changing the rules, laws and assumptions, wasn’t feeding global uncertainty by inept foreign policy, threatening to make energy costs skyrocket, and generally be the least business-friendly government in recent memory. Businesses don’t change their behavior because it helps a President politically, they do it because it will help them make money. The same is true of individuals, young and old. “This will make my life easier and more secure” is a reason to buy health care. “This will help a President I voted for rescue his grand plan that he lied about, managed incompetently and that isn’t working right” is not.

Why does Milbank think it is?

Taranto points out what should also be obvious, which is that the 19 year-old voter in 2008 is 25 today, and may have learned a few things, picked up some responsibilities, and perhaps become a tad disillusioned that the post-racial, hopeful, upbeat messiah who was going to spark peace with “smart diplomacy,” stop incursions on citizen privacy, not appoint lobbyists, make transparency a watchword, deal with the deficit and entitlements, have unemployment back under 7% and the country’s economy humming again, never lie to us—-and give the country a health care law that would lower costs—has been a disappointing flame-out. Once a leader can’t deliver as promised, his or her supporters aren’t obligated to march off the cliff with him, as Milbank seems to think.

From a Las Vegas Review-Journal op-ed, quoted briefly by Taranto:

The White House is desperate to sign up Nevada’s Millennials for Obamacare. With the March 31 enrollment deadline closing fast, the latest figures show that only 22 percent of the state’s Obamacare sign-ups are between ages 18 and 34. That’s a far cry from the 40 percent that the White House wants.

Blame the Obamacare marketing team. Since the exchanges launched in October, the team’s attempts to persuade us to sign up have been inappropriate, incoherent and simply insulting….Blame the Obamacare marketing team. Since the exchanges launched in October, the team’s attempts to persuade us to sign up have been inappropriate, incoherent and simply insulting….Given such pitiful attempts at reaching the young and the healthy, it’s no surprise that Millennials haven’t responded by signing up for Obamacare in droves. In reality, it’s too expensive for too many Millennials — and none of the marketing campaigns have been slick enough to bury this fact.

Obamacare leaves the average 27 year old facing a gender-averaged 47.5 percent premium increase, according to Forbes. Even after subsidies, that’s an expense that many Millennials can’t afford. Perversely, such high costs make it even harder for us to purchase health insurance in the future, when we can afford it. By not signing up for expensive plans now, insurance rates will increase as soon as next year — for everyone. That leaves us with two choices: Buy an unaffordable plan now, or wait and buy an unaffordable plan later.

Our only remaining option is to opt out of Obamacare entirely. If the latest numbers are any indication, that’s exactly what Millennials in Nevada are doing. We know a bad deal when we see one —and we’re not as dumb as Obamacare’s marketers seem to think.

Milbank’s reaction: How disloyal!

I am constantly amazed how many pundits do not seem to have any grasp of American culture of history. In the United States, you see, citizens elect leaders to serve the people’s interest, and get rid of them if they don’t. The mentality that it is the people’s duty to prop up struggling leaders…well, it seems consistent with the disturbing cult of personality that has always lurked beneath the surface of Obama’s support, exemplified by Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s creepy celebrity “We Pledge” video from 2009:

Speaking of keeping pledges, Ashton cheated on Demi, and they’re divorced. Yeah, tell us about pledges, guys.

Luckily, this kind of anti-democratic thinking has never taken hold in the United States, I believe because the nation’s culture of individualism and self-reliance is still too strong- to be subjugated to a charismatic leader’s will. Of our Presidents, only Franklin Roosevelt flirted with personality cultism, but he also was a successful and skilled leader who earned his support, and we were fighting a war. Thank heaven that America’s youthful adults still possess the impatient instincts of their parents and ancestors, who believe that our leaders exist to serve us, and not the other way around. If their policies aren’t working, or don’t suit our needs, then it isn’t a matter of forgoing loyalty. It is a case of assessing broken promises and re-evaluating trust. In this country, leaders are held accountable for failure, sooner or later.

Thank heaven for that.


Spark: WSJ (Taranto)

Graphic: System of Life

Source: WSJ, Washington Post, Las Vegas Review-Journal

23 thoughts on “Dana Milbank’s Weird and Un-American Concept of Loyalty

  1. As an aside, how is this a creepy video? I hope you agree with at least 90% of the statements in it. It’s not far off from, “Ask not what your country can do for you” Kennedy line. I like it — other than the guy kissing his biceps. That line was creepy.

    • WHAT? JFK didn’t say “ask what you can do for ME”!!!! And he didn’t say “ask what you can do for the GOVERNMENT”!!!!That video is disturbing and offensive, and crypto-fascist. Americans don’t trade in their brain for the presumed uber-wisdom of a completely unproven leader and the all-knowing State. This zombification of the left, African-Americans and the young explains the trainwreck that the last 6 years have been, uncritical, denial-based, faith-based trust in someone unworthy of trust and incapable of responsible use of power. I think that video is a good litmus test for how psychologically receptive a citizen is to statism and the surrender of individual will. I think the left is traveling a dark and corrupting road, Beth, and I’d suggest taking a detour while there is still time.

      • Try watching the video again and just concentrating on the wording of the “I pledge” phrases. Most of them you would agree are good causes — my guess is that it is hard for you to focus on that given that it’s wrapped up “I love Barack” paper with a pretty bow.

          • Watch the video. Many of the phrases are: “I pledge to do community service;” “I pledge to drive a hybrid;” “I pledge to stop drinking plastic water bottles.”

            I hate politicians even more than you — but thanks for reminding me with the all caps.

        • It should be hard for ANYONE to focus because of that, because this kind of unconditional love for any Great Leader—especially one who at the time (never mind later) had done exactly nothing to warrant it other than to mouth platitudes, make obviously extravagant promises, be black, and get elected against a weak field. It’s not just creepy, it’s frightening. Are liberals/progressives more prone to that kind of blank-eyed cultism? Sure seems like it—conservatives talk foolishly about Reagan, but at least he’s dead.

          • I’m looking at this differently than you. For example, I am not religious, but many of the morality lessons taught in church (being good to my neighbor, donating to the less fortunate, being true to your spouse, etc.) are wonderful and important lessons for building strong communities and families. I can acknowledge and praise that without ranting that they also are teaching us to believe in a mythical capricious sky god.

            I approach this video in the same way.

            • Not even close, Beth. There’s a big difference between being taught to believe in a higher power, that maybe we DON’T represent the apex of his universe, and being taught that one person, in the end flesh and blood like you and me, represents the apex of this universe.

  2. No, that’s a creepy video. The celebrity portion, on it’s own as some kind of call to activism, wouldn’t be bad, and it’s the typical Hollywood feel-good babble they often engage in. However, pledging to be a better person, get to know your neighbors, or stop giving people the finger to show the President ‘You’re not alone!’ is just Weird (with a capital W). The job of the President may be the loneliest in the world, but if you seek the office, you better have the stones to deal with the pressure, the ‘loneliness’, and everything else that comes with being the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. If you don’t, heaven help you, and I fail to see how starry-eyed celebrities pledging loyalty is going to help much.

    I agree, Milbank’s article is way off the mark, too. Voting for a President is not a 4-year agreement to accept and support everything he does as if it’s the best thing since sliced bread despite all evidence to the contrary. That’s the beauty of the American system, to realize you made a mistake, to be able to change your mind, and the freedom to call a turkey, a turkey.

    A recent AP headline, in reference to the Russian/Crimea situation, made me see red-
    “Obama thrust into fabled role as leader of the West”
    He’s in his second term! You’d think he’d know this by now, that his actions and utterances are seen and heard the world round, and that the United States has a world leadership position. The head line sounds as if he was suddenly given this job he didn’t sign up for…..there’s no end to the excuse-making.

    • The headline should say “Fabled Obama thrust into role as leader of the West” by imposing crippling sanctions on vast swath of Russian citizenry!

      (Actually only 11 Russians have received sanctions)

      What a joke. Any Leftie who voted for this massive joke with any dignity or sense of decorum or at least a modicum of pride in America should wake up and go to sleep with a pall of utter shame hanging over their head.

      • And this was all obvious and predictable years ago. The Republicans should hang their heads in shame, and Mitt Romney should be banging his head against the wall. As for the voting public, well…it’s as serious an indictment of democracy as a government form as I can imagine, right up there with the elections of Marion Barry in DC and Mark Sanford in S.C. The United States is too critical to the world and the battle against chaos to be run in such a slovenly, ignorant, reckless and inept manner, and those who defend–and love!— such leaders have a lot to account for.

        • Sorry Jack, almost 3 years still to go. My only hope is that the American people will be as pissed off at the Democrats for selling them a bill of goods as they were at the Republicans for the Iraq war once it became unpopular. I don’t hold out a lot of hope, though, I do not see a Reaganesque phoenix arising from these ashes, and, much as it annoys me to admit it, I think we all need to admit that this law, good or bad, is here to stay.

          • . The ethics issues issues are accountability, competence and honesty, as well as learning something about leadership and how to be more astute and demanding in electing and evaluating leaders. You have never read here about what should happen to the ACA…that’s not my concern. That’s a policy issue.

          • Wrong or not, people are never going to admit it when they are involved personally or someone they feel strongly about is involved

            SOME people. Rational, responsible, ethical people learn to get beyond this primitive stage. If what you say was always true, society would function even worse than it does.

            so criticism is kind of pointless and only makes them angrier, unless you are wearing a black robe, carrying a badge, or signing their check at the end of the week.

            I think everyone gets that you think Obama was a bad choice and that the ACA is bad policy, but at this point the time to change those decisions is past and we can only look to the judgment of history. Three more years of battling his defenders is just going to give everyone heartburn.

            Nobody should need to say he was a bad choice; the evidence is clear and overwhelming. The point is to learn. And deluded people delude others. The non-deluded have a societal obligation to mitigate the damage, heartburn notwithstanding.

        • You know, in the Dale Carnegie course we were taught about Albert Fall of the Teapot Dome scandal and about “Two-Gun” Crowley who committed murder and endured a very violent siege by the police which could only end one way. Albert Fall’s family still protested his innocence llong after he was convicted and imprisoned, and as Crowley was led to face execution his last words were “this is what I get for defending myself.”. Wrong or not, people are never going to admit it when they are involved personally or someone they feel strongly about is involved, so criticism is kind of pointless and only makes them angrier, unless you are wearing a black robe, carrying a badge, or signing their check at the end of the week. I think everyone gets that you think Obama was a bad choice and that the ACA is bad policy, but at this point the time to change those decisions is past and we can only look to the judgment of history. Three more years of battling his defenders is just going to give everyone heartburn.

  3. Not this specific article, but this is what I was talking about a few posts ago in response to your list of ways politicians can respond to the ACA mess. Supporters have found a way to sort of admit that it’s not all roses, while still pointing the fingers away from the law and the mighty O at a group everyone can hate together, “Millenials.”

    Side note: How come when my age group was doing the right thing and voting for Obama and talking about change we were the youth of the nation, a force for transformative improvement, but when we are being naughty and not buying enough overpriced insurance we’re back to being “millenials” like we are in all the articles about how we listen to too much iPods?

  4. Hey, there’s hope for the younger generation. “We won’t be fooled again. . .” A tip ‘o the hat on St Patricks Day.

  5. I’ll believe the Affordable Care Act no longer exists and is no longer menacing Americans’ lives, liberty and property when there are no longer any Russian-speaking people in the Crimea and Ukraine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.