Pyle: Mia Love's unlovely argument
Mia Love's campaign for Congress could be dismissed as yet another list of tea party talking points if it were not for the candidate's unique background. And her singular variation on one particularly offensive debating tactic.
Love is the mayor of Saratoga Springs and the latest Republican to challenge Rep. Jim Matheson, seemingly the only Democrat in Utah who can win an election. She predictably prattles on about how much she hates Obamacare. She falsely describes it as "the largest tax increase in history." And she laments the fact that, under the last Republican president we had, the U.S. bailed out the banks rather than stand back and watch a global financial collapse.
OK. Fine. This stuff obviously plays in Peoria, and in Provo. So Love would be batty not to run with it.
Besides, political boilerplate isn't what puts Love in a really good position to win this race. It's her personal story, which is truly inspiring and would be no less so were she a liberal Democrat running for Congress in, say, New York City, where, through no fault of her own, she was born.
Love's parents fled from Haiti during the murderous multi-generational rule of the Duvalier family. It is a perfectly American rags to riches or, at least, upper middle class story. And she can bring a tear to your eye when she recounts how, when he dropped her off at college, her father told her, "You will not be a burden to society. You will give back."
But wipe aside the tear and ask: To whom, exactly, was young Mia supposed to give back? If the family made it on its own, with no help from taxpayer-funded institutions from schools to national defense, then Pop was asking for his daughter to give him back all the money that he had spent on her upbringing.
Unlikely, that. And hardly a motivation to enter public life.
Giving back would generally mean supporting the institutions that were the sound foundation for Love's family as they made their truly inspiring climb out of poverty. But Love says the threat to the next generation of Americans is not the collapse of public institutions but the rise of public debt.
Here's where it gets weird. As a way of linking her genuinely compelling life story into her singularly nonsensical fiscal policies, Love invents a whole new variation on the Internet meme called Godwin's Law. That's the oft-demonstrated tendency of online comment threads to eventually find someone comparing someone they don't like to Adolf Hitler.
A corollary declares that whoever first plays the Hitler card loses the debate, and the conversation, mercifully, ends.
For Love, the comparison is not to the Nazis, but to Haiti's Duvalier regime. She refers to it as "socialist," when it was actually the polar opposite of that. Fascist (oops, almost a Nazi comparison there) would be more accurate. Or, perhaps, an extreme case of being ruled by The 1 Percent.
She compares the threat the debt poses to our children to the rages of the Tonton Macoute, the Duvaliers' horribly violent not-so-secret police, from whom her then-teenage father literally had to run for his life.
Nazi analogies are generally frowned upon because applying them to almost anything horribly diminishes the true evil perpetrated, and suffered, in the real Holocaust. Carelessly throwing around the specter of the bloodthirsty Tonton Macoute should be a disqualifying argument, too, especially when all you are talking about is an out-of-control budget.
But, in the current atmosphere, chances are that the argument call it Mia's Law is going to serve Love very well indeed.
George Pyle, a Tribune editorial writer, is more likely to compare people he does not like to the Sith.