Tuesday, October 30, 2007


A Response to Garrison Keillor

Have you noticed that a fair number of comedians just aren't funny anymore? I'm thinking, for example, of Janeanne Garofalo, Garry Trudeau, Rosie O'Donnell, and Garrison Keillor. (I sometimes date myself by saying "I can remember when Doonesbury used to be funny".)

The common denominator seems to be politics, I'm sorry to say. All these people are so angry about politics, just about all the time, that they just aren't funny anymore. They seem to take the Presidency of George W. Bush as a personal affront, or something.

The guys of Powerline just reprinted a sterling example of this, in the form of a diatribe by Garrison Keillor, long beloved for his dry humor on his signature Prairie Home Companion. Here's a recent example of his material for PHC, also reprinted in his new weekly column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Now I'm an old tired Democrat, sick of this infernal war that may go on for the rest of my life and in which more of our brethren will die miserably, both American and Iraqi. I'm sick of politics today, the cleverness and soullessness of it. I am still angry at Al Gore for wearing those stupid sweaters in 2000 and pretending he didn't know Bill Clinton, and I am angry at everyone who voted for Ralph Nader. I hope the next time they turn the key in the ignition their air bags blow up.
Pretty funny, huh?

(If you want to give the fellow a fair shake, follow the link and read the whole thing. It gets a little better in places, but not much.)

In response to this, however, an unnamed columnist at the Minneapolis Star Tribune has written an amazing rebuttal:

In his October 28 column, Garrison Keillor refers to Republicans as the “I’ve Got Mine” party. Logically, that would make Democrats the “Give Me Yours” party, but name calling won’t get us anywhere.

Liberal Democrats like Keillor believe needy people need money, and that government must give it to them. The idea is that we all contribute to the pot through taxes, and then government expertly doles out the cash to those who need it most.

Traditional Republicans, however, believe that government tends to be wasteful and inefficient with money...or anything else. We think along the lines of P.J. O’Rourke, who wrote: "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."

I have yet to meet a liberal fan of higher taxes who ever wrote a donation check to the IRS. Why is that? If you really believe you’re helping the needy by paying more taxes, what’s stopping you?

Keillor writes that Republicans wrecked a consensus we once had in America about taxing people according to their ability to pay. But such a “consensus” could have existed only in the minds of liberals, who make up less than half the population. That’s not a consensus. And he left out the second half of Marx’s maxim, which is “to each according to his need,” presumably because that would have set off alarm bells.

Keillor also believes that well-off Americans have no interest in providing a safety net for the less-fortunate. He must not have seen the Nov. 28, 2006 report on ABC News (“Who Gives More -- The Rich or The Poor?”), which found that, of the top 25 states where people give an above-average percent of their income, 24 voted Republican in the last presidential election. Here's the most telling quote from that story: "You find that people who believe it's the government's job to make incomes more equal, are far less likely to give their money away."

Or Keillor must not have read Who Really Cares by Arthur Brooks, which demonstrates that conservatives give about 30 percent more to charity than liberals. And incidentally, conservative-headed families make slightly less money. If Garrison would like a copy of the book, just let me know. I’m happy to mail him one free. That’s what we conservatives do. We don’t wait for government to help others. We do it ourselves.
I have no idea who this person is -- Powerline knows, and isn't telling -- but for my money, that's pretty funny, and a darn sight better than what Keillor wrote. (And I suspect the MST columnist wasn't even trying to be particularly funny, but simply wanted to make a point in a light-hearted sort of way.)

It makes me wonder who might offer a funny alternative to Doonesbury. (Other than Day By Day, I mean...)


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