Midnight Basketball

I was telling a friend last night that I had joined a gym that had a basketball court and was open 24 hours and he made a joke about me playing “midnight basketball.” His quip prompted a discussion about the original controversy surrounding midnight basketball, when Gingrich and Co held up a small federal program that provided money to run night-time basketball leagues for inner city youth as the very epitome of precious taxpayer dollars wasted on some bleeding heart, namby-pamby program. We both marveled that this was ever anything of a political issue, and while sometimes it seems like the last decade has been a tremendously regressive period of backsliding, I think it’s certainly the case that the kind of “angry-white male” hatred for government waste and “welfare queens” and teenagers playing hoops on their dime as completely dissipated. There’s a lot of anger about the earmarking process and bridge-to-nowhere-style projects perceived to be wasteful, but you just don’t see anyone riding issues like midnight basketball anymore.

I think this relates to the death of small-government conservatism that Ezra Klein, Reihan Salam and Ross Douthat have written about.

Chris Hayes is the host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

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