Great Moments in Arguing: Lindsey Graham Edition
By David Henderson
Taking the lead in bashing Trump at the Milken conference was South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, who on a panel said that his party had “lost its way” in nominating the New York real estate magnate. Referencing Trump’s recent lament that the United States ousted brutal dictators like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, Graham questioned Trump’s foreign policy judgement. “You want to be the leader of the friggin’ free world, and you’re yearning for dictators,” Graham said, angrily. “Why don’t you live in Gaddafi’s Libya? Why don’t you live in Saddam’s Iraq?” he added.
This is from Chris Matthews, “At Top Finance Conference, ‘Never Trump’ Wins Support,” Fortune, May 4, 2016. HT2 Tyler Cowen.
Often, when I point out the unintended consequences of a government intervention, I am attacked for favoring the thing that the intervention was supposed to address. So, for example, when I oppose making drugs illegal, I am accused of wanting to use what are now illegal drugs. When I oppose forcing employers to hire people of another race, I am accused of favoring the employers’ discrimination on the basis of race. When I oppose using taxpayers’ money to subsidize the arts, I am accused of being against the arts.
I couldn’t help but think of those kinds of accusations when reading Lindsey Graham’s attack above. The obvious answer to his rhetorical questions of Trump is that neither Trump nor anyone can live in Gaddafi’s Libya or Saddam’s Iraq because Gaddafi and Saddam are dead. And they are dead as a direct consequence of U.S. foreign policy.
But the other, apparently to Graham less-obvious, response is that to oppose ousting Gaddafi or Hussein is not necessarily to favor them but to realize, which Graham apparently still hasn’t, that the unintended consequences of those two actions have been far more horrendous than the situations under those two dictators. Lindsey’s reasoning is really poor.