Video: Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess scorches big government

posted at 9:21 pm on January 25, 2016 by Guy Benson

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, 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, and healthcare in particular. 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 creeping Statism serves a timely reminder 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. Her 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…

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“?


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Comments

Is this the thread for the DNC Rehab Hillary Debate?

BuckeyeSam on January 25, 2016 at 9:26 PM

fossten on January 25, 2016 at 9:24 PM

What’s upside down about it? No one else is surprised. Maybe if you haven’t been in your own echo chamber you would have known what everyone else has been knowing all along.

proverbs427 on January 25, 2016 at 9:29 PM

Thanks for reminding us that we have to turn to fantasy to see eloquent arguments against the expansion of government. Though I guess we are learning this election that there is little support in our own party for responsible government.

jhffmn on January 25, 2016 at 9:30 PM

the latest skirmish in a rather dull plot line, in my option

I think you mean squirmish.

Note the date on that linked article. Didn’t learn a thing in five years.

CivilDiscourse on January 25, 2016 at 9:31 PM

What’s upside down about it? No one else is surprised. Maybe if you haven’t been in your own echo chamber you would have known what everyone else has been knowing all along.

proverbs427 on January 25, 2016 at 9:29 PM

What’s upside down about it is that the ghouls who slaughter babies and then wholesale their body parts are going free while the guy who did the exact same thing 20/20 does is indicted for crimes.

fossten on January 25, 2016 at 9:33 PM

I used to love that show!

Stopped watching it when Matthew’s character died.

lineholder on January 25, 2016 at 9:34 PM

How did this make it past the PBS censors?

rbj on January 25, 2016 at 9:41 PM

Hubbly and I had a few giggles over last night’s epi.

LH, if you can, check out this final series.
Hubby hasn’t watched any of the previous, BUT has chosen this over HOCKEY, as I guide him along
That is serious. LOL.
Pretty cool, so far. And easy to feel caught up, honest. :-)

pambi on January 25, 2016 at 9:44 PM

How did this make it past the PBS censors?
rbj on January 25, 2016 at 9:41 PM

She is shown as holding the minority/fringe opinion.
Jus sayin.

pambi on January 25, 2016 at 9:53 PM

this make it past the PBS censors?
rbj on January 25, 2016 at 9:41 PM

It’s a BBC show. A little jab at the NHS.

CivilDiscourse on January 25, 2016 at 9:58 PM

I used to love that show!

Stopped watching it when Matthew’s character died.

lineholder on January 25, 2016 at 9:34 PM

We joke in our house that a soap opera sounds so much more sophisticated if the actors have British accents. But really, the reason to watch DA is for the hilarious dialogue.

That said, also on DA last night, Tom (the chauffeur who eloped with the dowager countess’s granddaughter) declared he is no longer a socialist but has decided free market capitalism is the better system.

It was quite a night for small government on Downton last night. Never would have expected it from the BBC.

CJ on January 25, 2016 at 9:59 PM

How did this make it past the PBS censors?

rbj on January 25, 2016 at 9:41 PM

She is shown as holding the minority/fringe opinion.
Jus sayin.

pambi on January 25, 2016 at 9:53 PM

Pretty much. I don’t think it was intended to be a praiseworthy moment, but an unflattering caricature.

Still, props to Benson for the sharp contrast with Missus Clinton.

Aizen on January 25, 2016 at 10:02 PM

It’s a BBC show. A little jab at the NHS.

CivilDiscourse on January 25, 2016 at 9:58 PM

Ah. That explains things getter.

Aizen on January 25, 2016 at 10:04 PM

pambi on January 25, 2016 at 9:44 PM
CJ on January 25, 2016 at 9:59 PM

LOL. I may have to check it out.

Went over to the Masterpiece Theatre site, and they have Season 5 and Season 6 (so phar) episode posted. Also lots oph character history and quotes, etc.

lineholder on January 25, 2016 at 10:08 PM

Julain fellowes, who wrote the series, is a tory. So these views get into the script. The lib side is alo represented, of course. But at least we get a few words in each episode. Which is more than you can say for 95% of usa prime time tv. Getting our pov fairly argued in tv shows is all we should expect or want. In the academy, too. We need left and right. We don’t need to be the only side heard, as the left so desperately needs.

reliapundit on January 25, 2016 at 10:15 PM

“It was called Hillarycare before it was called Obamacare,” @HillaryClinton says.

Yeah. Here is Mike Royko’s opinion of “HillaryCare” from October ’93.

jaime on January 25, 2016 at 10:16 PM

Link to the video clip on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNwy1jOg7OU&index=111&list=WL

paulmarkcards on January 25, 2016 at 10:24 PM

I Pad refuses to let me c/p, atm ..
-aYup, CJ, 9:59

The dialogue is exquisite. Truly.

pambi on January 25, 2016 at 10:25 PM

The sad thing is, that as we know, her view doesn’t prevail.

Cindy Munford on January 25, 2016 at 10:30 PM

I saw it, loved it.

This should add to the criticism of the writer, who is said to be pro-aristocrat, just because he portrays them as human rather than caricatures. I hope he can shoulder the burden.

Bravo!

PattyJ on January 25, 2016 at 10:32 PM

Prolly not, Cindy. :-(

pambi on January 25, 2016 at 10:33 PM

What’s upside down about it is that the ghouls who slaughter babies and then wholesale their body parts are going free while the guy who did the exact same thing 20/20 does is indicted for crimes.

fossten on January 25, 2016 at 9:33 PM

What? No rebuttal, proverbs, you gutless runt?

Well done fossten.

Thomas More on January 25, 2016 at 10:35 PM

pambi on January 25, 2016 at 10:33 PM

No probably about it. There was another line from last night that was cute. There is a cook’s maid that is getting educated and becoming quite the little firebrand about the class system. The cook, her boss, called her Joseph Stalin.

Cindy Munford on January 25, 2016 at 10:56 PM

Incidentally, this compact, righteous jeremiad against creeping Statism serves a timely reminder 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.

Jeez Guy. That’s embarrassing.

WryTrvllr on January 25, 2016 at 10:57 PM

Over at the LA Times, the progressives are calling for the government to confiscate Catholic hospitals — because one wouldn’t do a tubal ligation (sterilization) on a patient who requested it.

Apparently, the Hippocratic Oath must be converted into the Hypocritic Oath before it’s acceptable.

unclesmrgol on January 25, 2016 at 11:01 PM

It’s a BBC show. A little jab at the NHS.

CivilDiscourse on January 25, 2016 at 9:58 PM

Necessary in these dark times.

But we cannot look down our noses at the Brits, because we have the Veterans Administration.

unclesmrgol on January 25, 2016 at 11:10 PM

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.

Probably more apt an analogy than you meant given Smith’s character is constantly fighting a rearguard action to maintain aristocratic prerogatives and the tea party is nothing more than a freak out by whites who woke up to realize they wouldn’t always be a majority.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 11:53 PM

What? No rebuttal, proverbs, you gutless runt?

Well done fossten.

Thomas More on January 25, 2016 at 10:35 PM

The rebuttal is simple- PP hasn’t been found guilty of what Fossten claims despite ten or so state investigations at this point and I very much suspect the 20/20 reporters were smart enough not to break any laws when going undercover, unlike the CMP idiots.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 11:56 PM

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 11:56 PM

I didn’t invite you into this conversation, so FO. So PP doesn’t abort innocent, nascent human life, or secure money in the sale of said life’s organs? Like I said, FO!

Thomas More on January 26, 2016 at 12:08 AM

The Dowager Countess… the most indomitable character on that show. A true matriarch. She defies the notion that “Patriarchy” prevents women from having great influence. She gets the better of all her adversaries, eventually.

LancerDL on January 26, 2016 at 12:15 AM

I didn’t invite you into this conversation, so FO. So PP doesn’t abort innocent, nascent human life, or secure money in the sale of said life’s organs? Like I said, FO!

Thomas More on January 26, 2016 at 12:08 AM

And I care whether you invited me, really I do.

PP removes unwanted tissue, that’s it.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 12:21 AM

who is this Tialoc of whom we see here?? A recent escapee from an institution? More likely he drove his teacher’s into one!!!

Xango Annie on January 26, 2016 at 12:57 AM

Cindy Munford on January 25, 2016 at 10:56 PM

Only because we just watched it, and unless I missed a line, she called her Karl Marx. Just slightly less violent.

CivilDiscourse on January 26, 2016 at 1:11 AM

Over at the LA Times, the progressives are calling for the government to confiscate Catholic hospitals — because one wouldn’t do a tubal ligation (sterilization) on a patient who requested it.

Apparently, the Hippocratic Oath must be converted into the Hypocritic Oath before it’s acceptable.

unclesmrgol on January 25, 2016 at 11:01 PM

Hell with those intolerant Catholics, why doesn’t the LA Times tell the patient go to a muslim hospital or a muslim free clinic or ask muslim charities for help or…

AppraisHer on January 26, 2016 at 1:52 AM

Brilliant, Guy.

Now where’s your outrage over the GOPe and it’s collaboration and enabling of the statist agenda?

Athos on January 26, 2016 at 2:27 AM

CivilDiscourse on January 26, 2016 at 1:11 AM

Could be, still funny.

Cindy Munford on January 26, 2016 at 6:39 AM

How fitting – a woman who has done nothing at all to earn her vast wealth and inherited power outraged because her ability to control every aspect of the lives of the local serfs — of course some inbred titled twit should run health care, because the well-bred know best!

Glad to see Hot Air, despite the Trump surge, remains strongly attached to the Mitt Romney wing of the party.

urban elitist on January 26, 2016 at 7:54 AM

PP removes unwanted tissue, that’s it.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 12:21 AM

Don’t answer the door.

Younggod on January 26, 2016 at 7:59 AM

How did this make it past the PBS censors?

rbj on January 25, 2016 at 9:41 PM

It was probably promoted by the PBS censors.

The storyline is that the Dowager has never lost a political infight.

Now she espouses the anti-government rationale.

So that means in ensuing episodes she will finally lose.

The propaganda lesson for today’s culture: The times they are a changin’ and the progressive tide cannot be stopped.

Younggod on January 26, 2016 at 8:04 AM

How fitting – a woman who has done nothing at all to earn her vast wealth and inherited power outraged because her ability to control every aspect of the lives of the local serfs — of course some inbred titled twit should run health care, because the well-bred know best!

Glad to see Hot Air, despite the Trump surge, remains strongly attached to the Mitt Romney wing of the party.

urban elitist on January 26, 2016 at 7:54 AM

Yeah, shame-on Hot Air for promoting such a strong female character! Inheriting wealth is an unforgiveable sin, no matter what you do with it!

The major fault with the series is that it characterizes all change as good, leaning heavily on the benefit of hindsight. It makes up for it however in that it shows people almost always having to answer for their decisions.

LancerDL on January 26, 2016 at 8:27 AM

And I care whether you invited me, really I do.

PP removes unwanted tissue, that’s it.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 12:21 AM

Yes, PP’s business is primarily abortions. Thanks for finally admitting that.

“Unwanted tissue”…that happens to be human. Rationalization: the refuge of all perpetrators of atrocities.

LancerDL on January 26, 2016 at 8:31 AM

Guy Benson,
There’s a small error in your transcription, fixed below:

“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 own wishes count for nothing. That is what I consider my duty to resist.”

ITguy on January 26, 2016 at 8:35 AM

Yeah, shame-on Hot Air for promoting such a strong female character!

If “strong female characters” are important, Violet Crowley (I know, she can be annoying) regularly stands up to power despite being a little timid and quite middle class. The Hapless Lady Edith is taking over a publishing empire. Good old Daisey has become the assertive voice of leftist compassion. And randy, bitchy Lady Mary — who auditions a potential husband for a week at an upscale hotel and dismisses him for being an inadequate lover. Plenty of strong women on Downton (Really, isn’t Sir Robert almost a situation comedy sort of hapless dad?)

Inheriting wealth is an unforgiveable sin, no matter what you do with it!

And it was a system of inherited wealth and privilege that ultimately turned the UK into a second-rate power. there’s noting wrong with expecting people to earn their money.

The major fault with the series is that it characterizes all change as good, leaning heavily on the benefit of hindsight. It makes up for it however in that it shows people almost always having to answer for their decisions.

LancerDL on January 26, 2016 at 8:27 AM

I’d say the major fault with the series is that it romanticizes an oppressive system that ultimately failed both the beneficiaries and the victims by instituting a rigid class structure that failed to incentivize initiative or punish sloth, thus leading to inevitable decline and the loss of Britain as a credible force on the world stage. Also, weepy Anna Bates. Aren’t we sick of her?

urban elitist on January 26, 2016 at 8:45 AM

Rationalization: the refuge of all perpetrators of atrocities.

LancerDL on January 26, 2016 at 8:31 AM

The Left: Otherizing and slaughtering undesirables since…..well, since forever!

#doingthatthingyoudo!

CurtZHP on January 26, 2016 at 9:11 AM

Lancer, I disagree with that statement that the show depicts all change as good. It depicts that change can bring harm to people, particularly those who don’t anticipate and react to it.

Count to 10 on January 26, 2016 at 9:51 AM

The best line I’ve heard in all the seasons.

Unfortunately, she “lost the battle” as you can tell by England today.

RADIOONE on January 26, 2016 at 10:39 AM

there’s noting wrong with expecting people to earn their money.

urban elitist on January 26, 2016 at 8:45 AM

Unless they’re minorities on welfare, then expecting them to earn their money (rather than steal it from taxpayer) is racist, right?

GrumpyOldFart on January 26, 2016 at 11:42 AM

The best line I’ve heard in all the seasons.
Unfortunately, she “lost the battle” as you can tell by England today.
RADIOONE on January 26, 2016 at 10:39 AM

You realize you’re arguing for an aristocratic landed gentry feudal system, right? Where the lords ruled over the lives of the peasants? Just want to make sure you know what you’re talking about.

CivilDiscourse on January 26, 2016 at 1:57 PM

You realize you’re arguing for an aristocratic landed gentry feudal system, right? Where the lords ruled over the lives of the peasants? Just want to make sure you know what you’re talking about.

CivilDiscourse on January 26, 2016 at 1:57 PM

You realize you’re arguing for a system in which a government bureaucrat decides in what fashion you’re allowed to show your affection and support of those you care about, right? Just want to make sure you know what you’re talking about.

GrumpyOldFart on January 27, 2016 at 6:49 AM