It's typical of Barack Obama's luck the past couple weeks that on the day when he comes out with a killer response to Hillary Clinton's offer of the vice-presidential slot on her ticket, it gets buried by New York governor Eliot Spitzer's high-class prostitution scandal.
As I type this, the wheels are in motion for Spitzer to either resign gracefully or be forced out. Spitzer was a Hillary supporter- although not one the campaign bragged about after Clinton got caught waffling on his proposed program to issue driver's licenses for illegal immigrants program. As governor, Spitzer was a superdelegate; since his lieutenant governor, also a Clinton supporter, was already a superdelegate as a member of the Democratic National Committee, Spitzer's resignation will cost Clinton a delegate when every single delegate is precious.
Now, it's really easy for certain people (especially right-wing commentators) to draw a guilt-by-association argument against Hillary. "Look at who supports her," they'll say. "Look at who she works with. That's the kind of person she is."
I say: Don't do it. It's unfair and unjust. You don't get to choose your supporters, and Hillary has been putting distance between herself and Spitzer for months now. Nobody can say with a straight face that Eliot Spitzer played any significant role in the Clinton campaign or would play any significant role in a possible Clinton White House.
But there's a better argument to be made about why Eliot Spitzer's scandal- a former prostitution-ring busting attorney caught hiring extremely expensive prostitutes- is a reason not to vote for Hillary Clinton.
As everyone who hasn't been living under a rock knows, Obama's motto and main talking point is, "Yes We Can." Yes, each of us can achieve the American dream. Yes, we can make our own lives better and find success in our chosen field. Yes, we can demand accountability and responsibility of our government. Yes, we can take control of that government and use it to provide people assistance- without taking away their freedom or making them utterly dependent on that government.
That's the direct opposite of Clinton's unspoken motto, which is, "You Need Government."
You need government to force you to buy health insurance, because otherwise you might decide you can't afford to pay that much for a policy that might not cover you.
You need government to force you to build green, because otherwise the extremely high price for green construction and the lack of return on that investment would probably make you decide not to.
You need government to tell you what you can and can't watch, read or buy, because otherwise you might choose some form of entertainment which is unwholesome, antisocial, or harmful to minors.
You need government to defend you against criminals, because you cannot be trusted with a firearm or any other weapon with which you could defend yourself.
You can't do it by yourself. You can't work your way to a better life. You can't make the right decisions. You can't live the way you deserve you live... without government to make the decisions for you.
That's the basic Clinton philosophy.
But consider: in order for this to work, government has to be better at making decisions than ordinary people. The people who end up in public office need to be a better class of human beings than the common crowd- noble, upright, honest people with the intelligence and integrity necessary to make the right decision for all 300 million Americans- every single time.
But we know that government does not always make the right decisions. In fact, the wrong decisions often seem to outnumber the right ones. Corruption and abuse of power are endemic to the institution of government itself- ineradicable and all-pervasive. Even in cases where those in office are making honest efforts to do the right thing, unintended consequences makes the cure worse than the original disease- as Jeff Jacoby points out, in regards to how biofuels and lending laws are making global warming and the housing bust worse instead of better.
And even if we consider both Bill and Hillary to be members of this mythical noble breed- which the evidence strongly contradicts- Eliot Spitzer is demonstrably not. Nor is George W. Bush. Nor is Rep. Bill "That's Not $90,000 in My Ice Box, It's Frozen Cabbage" Jefferson. Nor is Senator Larry "Wide Stance" Craig. Nor is Rep. Alcee "Impeached Corrupt Judge Gets Elected to Congress" Hastings. Nor Senator Ted Stevens, nor Mayor Ray Nagin, etc. etc. etc. The best we can say about our elected officials is that they're no better people than anyone else; the worst we can say is, the purest scum rises to the top.
Hillary Clinton believes that she can rule us justly, make all our decisions for us, and guide us to a better world. Let's take some Pepto to kill the nausea as we presume, for the sake of argument, that she can. Maybe she is one of those noble all-wise leaders who can make all the right decisions... but she is not going to be in office forever.
And she will not be the sole person carrying out her orders.
When Hillary is gone- or where Hillary cannot extend her reach directly- her proposed laws, and the power they give government to control individual lives, remains. Lesser human beings will take hold of that power for their own purposes. They will certainly not be all-wise, noble people of integrity. They will be out for themselves. They will abuse that power, turning it to their own profit, and bungling the call on those issues that don't affect them one way or the other.
Government on the Clinton model would make us all dependent on the goodwill of government and those who administer it for our day-to-day livelihood. Without the better kind of person Clinton presumes would run her ideal government, this leave the individual American citizen vulnerable... for what government gives, government can take away- with interest.
The next time Hillary Clinton, or anyone else, talks about what government can do for you, imagine Eliot Spitzer, a man who prosecuted madams before being caught paying one, in charge of government.
Would you trust Eliot Spitzer to make your healthcare decisions? Your TV, reading, Internet, video-game decisions? Decisions on where you will live, where you will work, what you will eat and drink, whether or not you can defend yourself in the event of attack?
Every government official is an Eliot Spitzer or worse, so far as you know- because they haven't gotten caught yet.
Most of them never get caught at all.
Most of them, despite their hypocrisy, can be trusted with some basic things- trusted to defend our nation against attack, trusted to prosecute theft and murder, trusted to keep trucks rolling, water in the pipes, food on the table. It is in their best interests to make sure these, and other, basic functions work well for all.
But don't put your full trust in them. Don't become dependent on them. Don't buy into the ideal of all-benevolent government that Hillary Clinton preaches. It isn't true. It has never worked and will never work.
The only one you can trust to have your best interests in mind is YOU.
Don't let Hillary Clinton take your power to do for yourself away and give it to another Bush, another Spitzer, or any other corrupt or incompetent politician. You may need help, but you don't need a government nanny to do everything for you.
You can do it for yourself.
Yes, YOU can.