Matthew Yglesias is very smart. How do we know? Because he works for Vox, and Vox hires only the “smartest thinkers” and asks only the “toughest questions.” Seriously, that’s their motto:
The Vox wonks, 'the smartest thinkers asking the toughest questions,' tackle vexing issue of Gwyneth Paltrow. http://t.co/S9BYBbzGQr
— Byron York (@ByronYork) April 11, 2014
Thankfully, I have a pretty tough question for one of the web start-up’s smartest thinkers: What does it feel like to be so consistently wrong about so many things?
I’m not trying to be mean. I actually want to know. I want to know how one person can so consistently say so many dumb things about so many topics with so few consequences.
The topic du jour is the standard of care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Secretary Eric Shinseki was just forced to resign from his position as head of the agency due to reports of widespread fraud and corruption throughout the department. And not just typical government corruption where bureaucrats enrich themselves at the expense of the taxpayers who fund them. At the VA, dozens of veterans died while waiting for care. VA bureaucrats hid waiting lists and forged data in order to collect extra bonuses. Although the problems were known for years, nobody did anything to fix them. That kind of corruption.
What does this have to do with Matt Yglesias? It turns out that one of the nation’s smartest thinkers made a lot of noise about how the VA is awesome. How awesome? So awesome that maybe the entire U.S. health care should be modeled on the VA.
Seriously. He wrote that. Many, many times. He even mocked anyone — even a prominent doctor! — who had the audacity to question the quality of care provided by the VA to the men and women who volunteer to put their lives on the line for the country.
Let’s start with my favorite example of Yglesias’ expertise, via Think Progress:
From the article:
On CSPAN this morning, Senator Tom Coburn made the case against a government-run insurance plan on the strange grounds that a government-run health care delivery system would be ineffective. Specifically, he claims that “the VA is not up to the level of care of the rest of the country.” In reality, as Phillip Longman has detailed it’s true that VA Health Care is not of the same quality as health care elsewhere—it’s better[.]
And in the United States, the VHA appears to be the highest performing major system of providers that exists.
“The highest performing major system of providers that exists.” He actually wrote that.
Let’s take a look at the article about the VA that provided the foundation of Yglesias’ VA triumphalism, entitled “The Best Care Anywhere,” and see how it stands the test of time:
Ten years ago, veterans hospitals were dangerous, dirty, and scandal-ridden. Today, they’re producing the highest quality care in the country. Their turnaround points the way toward solving America’s health-care crisis.
Take that, Dr. Tom Coburn. You may have a medical degree and several decades of experience practicing medicine, treating patients, and examining the quality of care provided, but you lack a byline at a left-wing blog. Maybe next time you’ll think twice about questioning the quality of care provided by an institution that allowed a large number of sick veterans to die while they sat on a waiting list, hoping against hope that an overpaid bureaucrat somewhere might pick up the phone and help them get a doctor’s appointment.
Just think, if only we’d been able to model the rest of the country’s health care system on the super-reliable VA system, like one of Vox’s founders suggested, Obamacare wouldn’t have needed death panels at all. The president and his acolytes could’ve just called them “waiting lists” instead. Problem solved, right, Matt?
But he didn’t stop there. Oh no. And this time, he roped in his friend and colleague, Ezra Klein:
@mattyglesias Also veterans.
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) January 31, 2011
Smart take, bros.
Then there’s this, where Yglesias thought he’d stick it to GOP chairman Reince Priebus for being crazy enough to think that maybe government control of health care a la the VA isn’t exactly the best idea:
Will @Reince be explaining the evils of socialized medicine to veterans?
— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) October 2, 2013
Way to speak truth to power. You really showed him.
Lest you think I’m being unfair to Yglesias by only chronicling his incompetence as it regards health care, have no fear. He’s also terrible at basic accounting. And basic finance. And writing. And basic business economics:
@Mikexxxx1 No. Taxes are paid on profits not sales. It’s irrelevant to pricing.
— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) July 30, 2013
Is Bobby Jindal’s reputation for intelligence anything other than ethnic stereotyping?
— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) June 18, 2013
Is Matthew Yglesias’ reputation for saying really, really, really stupid things based on anything other than reality? Look, we all get things wrong from time to time. Everybody makes mistakes. Yglesias, though, is a cut above the rest. His talent for being wrong on every topic under the sun is remarkable — almost as remarkable as his refusal to do anything whatsoever to prevent the cycle from continuing.
I really do want to know if he tires of being embarrassingly wrong about everything, but I think I already know the answer: being a wrong liberal means never having to say you’re sorry, and having no shame means you never have to feel embarrassed.