“Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind.” These words were famously uttered by Rep. Earl Landgrebe (R-IN), a Nixon partisan to the bitter end, at the Watergate hearings. They are all that remain of that legislator’s political legacy. And yet, they reveal a truth. Michael Kinsley defines a gaffe as when a politician tells the truth — some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say. A statue should be raised in Rep. Landgrebe’s memory for daring to state explicitly one of the governing principles of modern American government: “Don’t confuse me with the facts.”
Obama has taken the position that tax increases — apparently including a whopping half trillion dollar tax increase scheduled to hit on January 1, 2013, called “Taxmageddon” — are the way to go. He seems convinced that not only is this the responsible thing to do but it is the popular thing to propose. It brings to mind the story recorded in Jeff Birnbaum and Alan Murray’s “Showdown at Gucci Gulch” (Random House, 1987, p. 35), of Walter Mondale at the Democratic convention. Upon nomination he delivered the line “Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.” He then privately turned to Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski and said, “Look at’em, we’re going to tax their ass off.” Mondale, famously, went on to lose 49 out of 50 states in a landslide of historic proportions.
Either high tax rates are bad for people — economically or socially (or both) — or they are not. One of the hallmarks of Washington is the degree to which it is guided by dogma rather than evidence, including the left’s dogma that high taxes are good. But “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” (John Adams, 1770.)