by Betsy Hart
Scripps Howard News Service
Liberals are just seen as inherently compassionate - often, even by conservatives. I've heard the latter say things like, "Liberals mean well, they're good people, but their policies don't work. ..." Yet has anyone ever heard an avowed liberal say, "Those conservatives are good, well-meaning people, but ..."?
Maybe it's thanks in large part to that benevolent soul Michael Moore that this long-held view of "liberal good/conservative malicious" is finally beginning to change. One just has to look at a post-election map of America and see that the red Republican states cover America almost sea to shining sea. (I've seen the conservatives and they are us?)
Or maybe it's just finally so obvious that liberalism doesn't work that we can no longer ignore the facts. Yes, this has been clear for close to 40 years. So OK, we're a little slow - but maybe we're really starting to catch on.
And so best-selling author Mona Charen's new book, "Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help (And the Rest of Us)," from Sentinel/Penguin Group, comes at the perfect time. (Charen, a nationally syndicated columnist, is also the author of the best seller, "Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got it Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First.")
Charen could have titled her new book, "Stick a Fork in It." She carefully recounts what may be becoming more and more obvious even to the culture at large: the extraordinary damage liberal polices have wreaked on American culture, from crime, to race relations, to poverty, to families, to our educational system and more.
So, for instance, Charen delves into the welfare reform bill of 1996, which was, of course, championed by Bill Clinton as well as conservatives.
Newsman Sam Donaldson echoed the elite opinion of the day when he predicted of the welfare bill on "This Week with David Brinkley" that "we're going to regret it as a country. It's not just anyone in poverty, it's the children. Throwing women and children off the rolls. ..."
That liberal bulwark, the Children's Defense Fund, predicted welfare reform would increase child poverty by 12 percent. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities predicted that the law "would push 2.6 million people, including 1.1 million children, into poverty" and on it went.
What actually happened? As Charen recounts of the welfare bill, "every wild prediction the liberals made has been proved false." Poverty fell precipitously from 13.8 percent in 1995 to 11.7 percent in 2003. Additionally, 3.5 million fewer Americans are poor today than in 1995, including 2.3 million children. "Poverty among African American children has reached its lowest point (begin ital) in history (end ital), (and) hunger among children has been reduced by half." And, she points out, millions of women found jobs that perhaps for the first time in their lives gave them a sense of accomplishment and pride.
But this is not the kind of material of which headlines are made. Nor should it be a surprise that the "Do-Gooders" who predicted doom haven't rushed to point out how wrong they were.
Fortunately, Charen does. Of welfare and so many other cherished liberal programs and initiatives she clarifies with an abundance of facts what so many already sense instinctively - the "Do-Gooders" have gotten it so wrong, so often and so obviously that one is left to wonder: Are they really trying to do good?
Fortunately, Charen also reveals something else about conservatives - they are often the ones with the best senses of humor. Her book is not only an easy read, but her wit and humor make it a truly enjoyable one.
In fact, one could find the failures of liberalism almost comical - except for the fact that the legacies of once-sky-high crime rates and the welfare state, including countless broken families, and ongoing racial tensions and violent and totally dysfunctional inner-city schools, for starters, have devastated millions of lives.
Tragically, most often the poorest and most vulnerable lives.
Fortunately, but unfortunately, Charen has plenty of material for a sequel.
can be reached by e-mail at letterstohart(at)comcast.net.