Saturday, April 09, 2005
Kaus was reacting to Bill Bradley's essay in the March 30th New York Times on the Republican Party's ideological pyramid. Apparently, we possess this huge financial ziggurat atop which stands, every four years, a Bush or a Dole or a Bush the Younger. Meanwhile, what is really going on is that a financial conspiracy allows the Ann Coulters and Michelle Malkins of the world carry on like the Hebrew slaves of old farther down the pyramid's base. The efforts of the intellectual flunkies and errand boys (and girls) are to support the campaigns of the aforementioned Stooges of Finance Capital. Only Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin get PAID!
Well, if I can't be a major Stooge of Finance Capital like Bush the Younger, can I be a minor Stooge, like Ann? Or Condi? Wait, Condi may become a major Stooge in 2008, so I'd best watch myself. Anyway, back to Kaus.
Kaus observes that Bradley's solution is to ape what the Republicans are doing instead of waiting for a Bill Clinton or a Jimmy Carter to come along. For the Democrats, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is but one Messiah away. This notion of a Messiah Candidate is common among liberal Democrats. Consider the psychosexual reaction to Barak Obama's ascent last fall. It actually bordered on the obscene. Barak Obama beat a weakened Republican Party that had the misfortune to hire Alan Keyes as a mercenary canidate. For that he got a Second Coming cover on Newsweek.
Kaus observes what smart Republicans (and even smarter Dems, like Kaus here), know about the Donks...
The problem, of course, is that the Democratic party's most stable institutional elements are also its most problematic elements: 1) unions; 2) the civil rights and Latino lobbies; 3) the senior lobby (AARP); 4) institutional feminists (NOW); 5) trial lawyers; 6) Iowa-caucus style "progressives;" and 7) Hollywood emoters. If a national problem could be solved without trampling on the interests of this institutional base, Democrats would have solved it in the decades when they were in power. What's left are the problems that can't be solved--even solved in accordance with liberal principles--without trampling on these liberal interest groups: competitiveness, for example, or public education, or entitlement reform. If the Dems' permanent institutional base is what gets to "develop" and "hone" the ideas to be adopted by the party's presidential nominee, then the Democrats will in perpetuity be the party of union work rules, lousy teachers, mediocre schools, protectionism, racial preferences, unafforadable entitlements, amnesty for illegals and offensive rap lyrics! That winning collection gets you, what, 35%?
In the previous post, I mentioned that the Democrats are the Party of Reaction. They have become reactionaries simply because the act of change would kill their coalition (see Kaus above). It's the paint off the flywheel illustration discussed in the previous post. As a 20th Century political party, their entire reason for being is in danger of passing into history if they don't find a way to change with the times. Clinton was able to warm this over with his handshake and backslap and hale fellow well-met act for eight years. But the internal contradictions of the Democratic coalition and its resisitance to the 21st Century's demands could not be put off forever. So here we are today, and there you have it.
Republicans are slowly coming to grips with the fact that they are a governing party, and a majority party to boot. And so, they are also coming to grips with the 21st Century. Are there fits and starts? Yes. Are there royal screwups from the getgo? Sure. Roosevelt had the Works Progress Administration, whose unofficial symbol was said, only half in jest, to be a man leaning on a shovel. But George W. Bush is committed to trying to get things done. Voters notice that. The response of the Left, of course, has been to scream "BusHitler" during the war and to say "There Is No Crisis" (see intellectual oatmeal in post below). To top it off, Howard Dean, who maintained that the Saudis tipped off Bush to 9/11 before the attacks, is now head of the DNC. And he claims that we, that is, we Republicans, are "evil".
Well, as long as Howie doesn't find out about the Swiss bank accounts and the secret decoder rings, I guess we're okay.
Friday, April 08, 2005
...leading the blind.
Please take a nice look at this graphic. What does it tell you?
It's an html link that will send you to a website called, thoughtfully enough, "Thereisnocrisis.com". It's a nice picture of a gentle member of the Greatest Generation and one of her great Grandchildren. Below that is a flash banner which you can see says, over n' over n' pop over (like the Pop Tart) "THERE IS NO CRISIS"! That banner is followed by more flash animation that says "Protecting the Integrity of Social Security". The old lady in the picture is there to reassure the old folks that the liberals are there for them, while the baby in the picture is there to reassure the younger set that, no, the liberals haven't forgotten about them either.
This ad has been on most of the liberal blogs that I have been coasting in an out of for about the past month, and it has told me a lot about the Democratic Party's state of play right about now.
Social Security is a monster of an unfunded liability. Since Lyndon B. Johnson needed to come up with a neat-o way to finance the Vietnam War in the 1960's, the Federal Government has been removing federal dollars from the Social Security trust fund and replacing them with IOU'S. Natch, these IOU's have to be cashed in sometime, lest the system go belly-up.
Now you can monetize the debt, but with this nation's liability debtload that extends back to the Revolutionary War, we'd end up like Weimar-something that would please the Michael Moore crowd no end. Bush's reform plan depends on private accounts for a small percentage of future Social Security funding. The pitfall for GW is that it may, repeat may, require borrowing to finance. If this is true, that may kill the plan as the public is running up against debt fatigue. The Republicans appear to be willing to look up other trees to try to cobble together a compromise plan.
Then, there are the Democrats. What is most revolting is the kind of brain-dead politics that is emblematic in that banner above: the willingness to do nothing. They are a reactionary political force. They are initiating nothing, and are reacting to everything. The above banner, with some tweaking, could be about the judicial filibuster (see John Hinderaker and the boys over at Powerline for an insight into their latest intellectual scam, a shameless ripoff of a fine old Jimmy Stewart film.).
The Democrats are fearful of doing anything that might upset that applecart of the interest groups that hold the coalition together. Right now, hatred of Bush is all that is keeping them together. The problem for the Donks (they don't see this yet) is that when ChimpyHitler leaves the scene, the centrifugal forces at play in that party will start moving the various interest groups apart like paint off a moving flywheel. Consider the Donk party as hundreds of little groups in search of their cut of the swag. There's no larger God and Man debate as you had in the Republican Party during the years in the wilderness. There's no Reagan, no Buckley, no Thatcher, no Whittaker Chambers. No Ayn Rand, even.
There's no there, there. There's just policy. A thousand different meals on wheels programs with no overarching vision of WHY. So there's no consideration to actually look at how Social Security can be fixed for the nation so that it's in good shape for the state of demographic play in 2060. All that matters to the Donks is the now. How do they beat ChimpyHitler, not how they protect Social Security so that my daughter actually has something other than an 18% tax rate with which to look forward?
And this is what they've come up with.....