WASHINGTON, DC -- Superman doesn't know what he's talking about.
That was the blunt assessment of Libertarian presidential candidate Harry Browne after listening to actor Christopher Reeve speak at the Democratic National Convention last night.
"I respect Mr. Reeve as an actor and as a man who has struggled against great odds to overcome a tragic accident," said Browne. "But when it comes to public policy pronouncements, Mr. Reeve is not only wrong -- he's profoundly wrong."
While giving credit to the paralyzed actor's "moving and dignified" speech, Browne said he objected to Reeve's use of the "family" metaphor as an excuse to demand more government spending.
"It's a tragically flawed comparison," said Browne, "because it doesn't acknowledge the fundamental differences between a family and government. To put it simply, a family is love; government is force.
"A family is a group of people bound together voluntarily by ties of love and respect; government is bureaucrats using force to demand your obedience. To compare one to the other insults the very idea of family."
In his speech, the actor who flew to fame in the popular Superman movies said that America was a "family" -- and "we've got to take care of our family" by spending more tax money on medical research and by enforcing the Americans With Disabilities Act.
"Predictably, Mr. Reeve wants to gloss over the coercion that hides behind every government action," said Browne. "But coercion is what makes government the opposite of a family.
"For example, a family does not send IRS agents to seize the income of another family member to fund favorite social programs.
"A family does not fine, arrest, or imprison a family member if he doesn't spend tens of thousands of dollars to make a staircase 'wheelchair friendly.'
"A family doesn't spend the future earnings of their children and grandchildren and burden them with a $5 trillion debt.
"But government has done all those things -- and will continue to do them as long as people reflexively turn to government to solve every problem," said Browne.
"If Mr. Reeve really thought that America was a family, he would have used his eloquence to ask for voluntary contributions to the hundreds of non-profit, charitable, and scientific groups who are working to unlock the medical mysteries of disease and disability, and struggling to make life better for handicapped Americans. That would have shown a real understanding of what a family is."
Browne acknowledged that he may take some heat for criticizing Reeve.
"I'm sure the Democrats thought no one would dare argue with Mr. Reeve, given his stature as an American hero and as a man with a serious disability. But honesty requires us to stand up against a bad message -- no matter who the messenger is."