Thursday, August 12, 2010

An "Intellectual" says a lot of nonsense

Fouad Ajami (a professor, no less) writes the following in The Wall Street Journal: If public opinion displayed no enthusiasm for the overhaul of the nation's health-care system, the administration would push on. The public would adjust in due time.

The nation may be ill at ease with an immigration reform bill that would provide some 12 million illegal immigrants a path toward citizenship, but the administration would still insist on the primacy of its own judgment. It would take Arizona to court, even though the public let it be known that it understood Arizona's immigration law as an expression of that state's frustration with the federal government's abdication of its responsibility over border security.

This is poor reasoning, especially disappointing from a professor at a major university. To briefly analyze:

1.He assumes that policy is strictly a matter of watching the polls and doing what a majority of voters want at a specific time. If we we agree with this position (I don't),then the logical conclusion is to abolish our form of government. No more Congressmen, Senators, or Presidents; we'll just do an electronic poll on every issue and majority rules. It would be impossible to carry out this policy. How often would the polls be sent out? What if popular opinion on an issue changed from one month to another. Would we pass a bill in March that has a majority, repeal it in April if public opinion turned against it, but repass it in May if the voters (polltakers?) changed their minds again?

As for the Arizona law, I shouldn't have to explain this to a Ph.D, but a majority vote for a bill does not mean it's constitutional. The federal government may be wrong in saying it's unconstitutional, but it is absurd to say that no popular measure may ever be challenged in court. How would Professor Ajami feel if New York passed legislation fining academics who write silly op-eds? (Sorry, a cheap shot, but I couldn't resist).

And, to make it worse, Professor Ajami's position on immigration reform isn't even factually correct. According to The Washington Post:

The same Pew survey that found backing for Arizona also showed that more than two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) support a path to citizenship for illegal migrants who pass background checks, pay fines and have jobs. That's not much different than other Pew surveys going back before the recession.

There's actually much more nonsense in the op-ed (it's at, you may need a subscription), but I think the point is made. Professor Ajami is a hack.

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