AMITY SHLAES DOES IT AGAIN…. I’m a big science-fiction fan, so when I heard that conservative writer and FDR critic Amity Shlaes had compared contemporary politics to “The Matrix,” I was anxious to see what she’d come up with. Here’s Shlaes’ lede from her latest column:
Every administration has its movie…. Barack Obama has dropped us all into “The Matrix.”
In the Obama Era, it seems, we all pick our way through anxious lives that have something to do with software. Like Keanu Reeves’s Neo, we realize hour-to-hour that we are being manipulated by a system that has its own larger plan.
If only we keep a cool head, we tell ourselves, our powers of logic will help us escape the web. But each move we make, even the one that feels independent, takes us deeper into the Matrix.
Someone’s going to have to help me out here. I’ve seen some strained analogies — Gerson’s rabbi simile this morning was a doozy — but Shlaes is breaking some new ground here. Obama, I guess, is supposed to be Agent Smith? We’re Neo. Amity Shlaes is probably Morpheus, leaving John Boehner and Mark Sanford to battle it out for the role of Trinity. (I’m going to assume Shlaes prefers Limbaugh for the role of Oracle.)
Wait, it gets worse.
[T]here’s no escape. “There are parts of the health-care proposal that look like an opportunity to unplug ourselves from the false reality of comfortable and convenient government- directed health care, but they are not real,” [Thomas Miller of the American Enterprise Institute] said.
The administration seems almost to relish the sinister aspect of government-run health care. Otherwise it wouldn’t have created a position called “National Coordinator of Health Information Technology.” That’s a title worthy of Rhineheart, Neo’s boss, who tells him, “This company is one of the top software companies in the world because every single employee understands that they are part of a whole.”
Um, Amity? Obama didn’t “create” the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology; Bush did, five years ago. (I’ve looked for Shlaes’ criticism of this from the time, but can’t seem to find any.)
Just as importantly, this office is neither “sinister” nor “government-run health care” (nor “Matrix”-like). It’s not even controversial — this is about an electronic records system for physicians and hospitals. It saves money and improves care.
If Shlaes disagrees, fine, she should try to make that case. But her column on this is both odd and misleading.