“Let Obamacare fail.” Home Depot billionaire Ken Langone added his voice to those in the GOP who think the way to defeat Obamacare is to—in his words—“let it happen” and then let it fail. He said as much in an exchange with Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., on CNBC’s Squawk Box earlier this week. The problem with that strategy is that it assumes a demonstrably false premise: That the government will pull the plug on failed programs. If the growing size of government teaches us anything, it is that the current political process doesn’t have the ability to end even the most flawed government programs. However, Langone’s thinking—even among conservative Republicans—is common. It is true that all houses built on sand eventually come crashing down, but selling tickets to the crash is cynical and cruel.
This is tolerance? New York Police Chief Ray Kelly was booed at the Ivy League school Brown University for defending his city’s stop-and-frisk law. I’m not here to defend stop-and-frisk. It’s clearly controversial and possibly has constitutional problems, though I would also note that yesterday an appeals court overturned a lower court decision and for now is letting the stop-and-frisk policy stand. My main concern here is the way Brown treated Kelly. If the school is going to invite Kelly, it should at least hear him out. Alas, this episode is too frequently what passes for “tolerance” in the Ivy League today. I would contrast this week’s spectacle with Columbia’s invitation to Mahmoud Amadinejad, former president of Iran, in 2011. It’s ironic that a tyrant gets to speak his mind while the chief of New York’s police department is shouted off the stage. To her (limited) credit, Brown President Christina Paxson chastised the students in a statement: “I appreciate that some members of our community objected to the views of our invited speaker. However, our University is—above all else—about the free exchange of ideas.” Though, obviously, this “free exchange of ideas” is more an aspiration than a reality.
War of the Worlds. This week—on Oct. 30—was the 75th anniversary of the War of the Worlds radio broadcast. It’s hard to imagine today that a broadcast would cause panic around the nation, but it did, in part because of anxiety related to the war in Europe, and in part because the first two-thirds of the broadcast resembled a real radio news program of the day. Though most people understood that the broadcast was fiction, enough people were fooled to cause The New York Times to discuss the panic on its front page on Oct. 31, 1938. It also motivated a change in the law to prevent such dramatizations from being aired again. As a cultural touchstone, it helped launch Orson Welles’ career, and was a precursor to such films as The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. In this space I often highlight the shortcomings of the mainstream media, but I mention this event, too, in order to direct your attention to this article, written by my friend Mark Washburn with the Charlotte Observer. He does a great job of adding research and some present-day reporting (not to mention a few humorous touches) to make this 75-year-old event come alive.
Still not inevitable. Hawaii's state Senate approved legislation on Wednesday to legalize same-sex marriage. The Senate vote repealed a voter-approved constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage. The vote was overwhelming: 20-4 vote in favor of the bill. The House likely will pass the bill as well, as Democrats outnumber Republicans there 44-7. Gov. Neil Abercrombie, also a Democrat, lobbied for the bill, so he will undoubtedly sign it. This will make Hawaii the 15th state to make homosexual marriage legal. It’s important to note, though, that this is one of the bluest states in the nation. Homosexual marriage for the nation is still not inevitable, as some on both the left and the right say it is, and most of the low-hanging fruit for the “marriage equality” movement has been picked. Look for the battle to shift back in favor of traditional family forces, or at least to reach an uneasy stalemate, in the years ahead.