'Liberal Fascism': A Budget Textbook?

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Jonah Goldberg's book Liberal Fascism was slammed by some critics for arguing that fascism is a product of the left. But the book has endured as a guide for many conservatives, including Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, architect of the GOP's proposed budget.

In an interview with the Daily Beast's Benjamin Sarlin, Ryan admitted he was moved to vote for the bailout after reading Liberal Fascism because he thought it would stave off a socialist takeover by Obama. "I believe Obama would not only have won, but would have been able to sweep through a huge statist agenda very quickly because there would have been no support for the free-market system," he said.

Goldberg was understated in his response to the news, eschewing smugness in favor of simply confirming the story. Pundits on the left were more than happy to supply enough emotion to go around.

  • This Is the GOP's Wonk?  MSNBC's Rachel Maddow is incredulous that the GOP's "big brain on policy" is taking cues from a book that equates liberalism with fascism.

  • Ryan Just Doesn't Get It  Rather than castigate Ryan, the New Republic's Jonathan Chait focuses on the substance of his books of choice (Ryan is also a fan of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged). "They're written by people who don't understand liberalism and the left at all, and are thus unable to present liberal ideas in terms remotely recognizable to liberals themselves," he says. Chait expounds on his frustration with Republicans in general.
Ryan clearly has a passion for ideas and isn't just interested in short-term positioning. It would be nice if the party had people like that who didn't also happen to be loons.
  • It's Your Own Fault, GOP  Nicole Gelinas, Goldberg's colleague at the National Review, directs her ire at Republicans for submitting to TARP in the first place. "Can we all blame Jonah for TARP?!" she sneers. "This makes life easier." Gelinas's main beef is that "too-big-to-fail" banks continue to have an expectation of future bailouts if necessary. "Finance competes, then, with an unfair advantage that other industries don't enjoy -- the expectation of government guarantees," she argues. "This distorts and weakens the entire economy."
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