Jonah Goldberg so absolutely called it:
Not that it was really that insanely hard to predict that Team Hillary would go ahead and put all of their chips on Trust Me. Just remember, though: Team Hillary is not audacious. It’s simply shameless.
As a proud member of the “don’t just do something, sit there” school of politics, I don’t fret much about partisanship and gridlock. Partisanship and gridlock aren’t bugs of our constitutional system, they’re features. And while everyone likes to see their preferred policies sail through Congress, on the whole I think we’ve been well served by those features for two centuries.
That said, in the spirit of compromise so lacking in Washington, I would like to offer a suggestion for how to fix the alleged dysfunction in Washington: Let’s have more partisanship about ideas and less about process.
I will raise a cheer for process-related partisanship – I find merit in the Republican party’s history, even when it was not unabashedly conservative* – but Jonah raised some interesting points. Read, as they say, the whole thing.
*The GOP has always fallen back to embracing liberty. From the Civil War to civil rights to killing the Soviet Empire, once and for bloody all. And if that meant using the government to do it, well… there is still music in the sound of a shackle broken, and clattering to the ground.
Jonah Goldberg, discussing the rise of a managerial ‘class’ in this country that has apparently found a happy home with the Democratic party:
It’s true that the already super-rich Kochs would benefit from a freer country. It’s also true that the managerial class would benefit from the bureaucratization of America.
Very true. The major difference between the two, though? Other people besides the Kochs would benefit from a freer country. We’ve long since passed the point* where more bureaucratization would benefit anybody except bureaucrats.
*Libertarian theorizing aside, you need some bureaucracy and organization if you want a country this large to operate effectively. Having no desire to break up the United States of America into an easily-conquered patch of pocket-realms – to say nothing of not wanting to need a passport to visit Seattle, Chicago, or Philadelphia – I am thus constrained to avoid advocating for a hard-core libertarian system. But we can hack The Weed Agency back a bit. And by ‘bit’ I mean ‘a lot.’
It includes states like Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania: “a handful of southern Democrats joined Republicans yesterday to defeat president Obama’s choice to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division.”
Via Jonah Goldberg, who probably also knows that ‘Southern’ is NPR’s way of saying ‘damned crackers with their guns and religion and they’re probably all racists anyway.’ No, seriously. You should hear how NPR pronounces the phrase ‘conservative white,’ for example: it’s darkly fascinating.
If you are anything like me, you probably want to read this blistering column by Jonah Goldberg on some Lefty pundits and academics’ not-really-curious myopia when it comes to Soviet Communism:
What to say of the gormless press-agent twaddle conjured up to describe the Soviet Union? In its opening video for the Olympic Games, NBC’s producers drained the thesaurus of flattering terms devoid of moral content: “The empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint; the revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it’s passion that endures.”
To parse this infomercial treacle is to miss the point, for the whole idea is to luge by the truth on the frictionless skids of euphemism.
…but for the really good stuff, read his G-File today. A taste: (more…)
Said rhetorical question: So What Was The Point of Obamacare Again?
Well, the point of Obamacare was to prove, once and for all, that the Democrats had made a mistake in not passing Hillarycare in the 1990s. The Democrats spent the next twelve years telling each other that the real reason why they lost the House in 1994 – an event that some of them still haven’t gotten over, by the way – was because they didn’t pass Clinton’s health care legislation. They knew that this was the reason for all of their problems. Science had proved it. So of course they went back for another bite of the apple, once they had the requisite super-majorities in Congress to pass something.
For a particular definition of ‘bad,’ of course.
I particularly enjoyed the bit where Trippi brought up George W Bush’s bad approval ratings when in office when compared to Bush’s improved numbers now. …Yeah. I bet that this is a real comfort to all of those Republican legislators who got tossed out in 2006 and 2008 because they were caught in the Bush undertow. And it’s going to be just as much of a comfort to any Democrat who loses next year, too.
Again, for a particular definition of ‘comfort.’
Jonah Goldberg and I may have originally disagreed over who ‘won’ the shutdown – but Jonah is as startled as I am at how horribly Barack Obama handled the situation, given what Obama knew:
…consider Obama’s only clear-cut political victory since his reelection. Republican demands were a bit of a moving target, but basically the GOP wanted either an all-out repeal of Obamacare or, as a fallback, a one-year delay of the individual mandate. By the end, they would have taken even less.
But Obama wouldn’t consider it. Instead, he played hardball with everything from national-park closures to, temporarily at least, denying death benefits to military families. As the debt ceiling loomed, the GOP relented. Conventional wisdom says Obama won, and I basically agree with the conventional wisdom.
Or at least I did. There’s something those of us scoring that bout didn’t know: The president desperately, urgently, and indisputably needed to delay the rollout of Obamacare.
A little surprising, that.
Background: in the course of trying to boost what has been generally conceded to be a not-particularly-good Second Inaugural speech made by Barack Obama yesterday, Yglesias wrote:
Summing up the ideological brief, Obama even indulged in American liberalism’s favorite ideological tic—the insistence that it’s not an ideology at all, but simply a pragmatic response to changing circumstances.
The unique threat of today’s left-wing political religions is precisely that they claim to be free from dogma. Instead, they profess to be champions of liberty and pragmatism, which in their view are self-evident goods. They eschew “ideological” concerns. Therefore they make it impossible to argue with their most basic ideas and exceedingly difficult to expose the totalitarian temptations residing in their hearts. They have a dogma, but they put it out of bounds.
Jonah Goldberg has a new book out coming out tomorrow – the full title is The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas – which will be seen by many to be a sort of sequel to his previous (and very useful work Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. I say ‘sort of sequel’ because The Tyranny of Cliches is not exactly an expansion of Liberal Fascism as it is a book that references a lot of the same events and themes as its ‘predecessor,’ only from the angle of ‘how progressives manipulate language’ as opposed to ‘how progressives manipulate history.’ Capsule review: The Tyranny of Cliches does an excellent job in puncturing several progressive delusions about their ideology, including the one about how progressives don’t really have an ideology in the first place; you want to read it.
The central message of The Tyranny of Cliches is Progressives have a consistent ideology, which they then proceed to pretend is not an ideology at all, but instead mere ‘Pragmatism.’ The reason why this is important is because ideologies can be and are rigorously questioned and challenged as a matter of course; but if one can instead get people to treat an ideological position as merely being something that ‘everybody knows,’ then it theoretically becomes easier to get people to unquestionably endorse said position. Hence, ‘tyranny of cliche:’ cliches are of course self-contained and internally consistent thoughts* that most people in a culture understand and accept. Having progressive ideas and concepts slip into that shared consensus would go a long way towards having those ideas and concepts adopted and used. (more…)