On last night's episode of Downton Abbey, the Crawley family matriarch -- played splendidly and hilariously by Maggie Smith -- is confronted over her opposition to proposed management changes at the village hospital (the latest skirmish in a rather dull plot line, in my option). At issue is whether her board of advisors will relinquish local control, a stance that has been portrayed as self-interested and parochial for much of the current season. But in this exchange on the matter, Smith's character reveals a more high-minded rationale behind her entrenched resistance to the "progress" sought by others. She mounts an energetic (for her) case against the government's encroaching dominance over every aspect of life, especially including healthcare. In which the Dowager Countess channels Ayn Rand:
"For years, I've watched governments take control of our lives. Their argument is always the same: 'Fewer costs, greater efficiency.' But the result is the same, too. Less control by the people, more control by the State -- until the individual's anguishes count for nothing. That is what I consider my duty to resist."
"Well said, mother," Lord Grantham might begrudgingly sigh. She frames this duty as one that must be fulfilled by Britain's waning "great families," but swap out that anachronistic phrase for "free people" or "informed citizens," and one can practically picture Violet Crawley attending a tea party rally. (There's a terrific photoshopped meme to be made here; don't fail me now, internet). When one of her daughters pushes back with a capitulatory 'times are changing, why even bother?' reply, the acid-tongued Dowager fires back: "Your great grandchildren won't thank you when the state is all-powerful because we didn't fight." Quite so. I always knew I liked her. Incidentally, this compact, righteous jeremiad against Statism calls to mind the fact that Violet isn't the only aloof, elite, filthy rich 'grand-ma-ma' relic who's been harshly critical of government-run healthcare recently. Hillary Clinton and her allies have been upbraiding Bernie Sanders over his single-payer healthcare fantasy, correctly warning that instituting such a scheme would require trillions of dollars in across-the-board tax increases. The Hillary camp's aggressive criticism on this front achieves something of an indelibly Hillaryesque trifecta: It confirms conservatives' argument that socialized healthcare is unaffordable -- on top of other deeply undesirable flaws -- it alienates Mrs. Clinton from her party's increasingly radical left-wing base (among whom single-payer is a sacred goal), and it once again exposes her as a flaming, say-anything hypocrite. Ahem:
Unlike Violent Crawley, Hillary Clinton isn't a philosophical opponent of incipient governmental micromanagement. Her math-based case against Bernie's single-payer dream arises from political necessity, not principle. Case in point, she continues to adamantly defend and support the failing, unpopular government power grab known as Obamacare, the wreckage of which she's pledging to prop up and expand. Don't forget...
"It was called Hillarycare before it was called Obamacare," @HillaryClinton says.— Amy Chozick (@amychozick) January 21, 2016
I'll leave you with this -- because it's much more entertaining than listening to an insipid, calculated, uninspired Hillary Clinton speech for a cool $200,000-plus:
Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Which is more out-of-touch, "what is a weekend?" or "the last time I actually drove a car myself was 1996"?
Editor's Note: A version of this item is cross-posted at HotAir.com