Sunday, October 12, 2003
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What do Iraq and the Democratic Party have in common?
When a policy is perceived as not working out, there are two explanations usually given:
However, as Matt Bai points out in today's New York Times Magazine, the Democratic Party is undergoing a similar debate about it's own future. The story discusses former White House chief of staff John Podesta's efforts to create a liberal think tank to rival the right-wing triumvirate of the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, and American Enterprise Institute. The key grafs:
So, is the Democratic Party's problem that it needs to fix media misperceptions or that it needs to generate new policies?
Bai seems to answers his own question at the end of the piece:
As a member of the opposition who nevertheless truly wants to see this project succeed in part (click here for why), I'd suggest that Podesta may be aiming too high. Part of the reason the right-wing think tanks have thrived is not just their willingness to take on the Republican establishment, but to take on each other. Cato and Heritage hardly see eye-to-eye on all matters, and I'm sure that there are different strands of the Democratic party that feel the same.
The key is not just to fund the construction of new ideas -- it's to encourage competition among new sets of ideas.
My advice to Podesta -- one think tank can't house every strand of the Democratic party -- aim for ideological coherence first, and then try to wipe the floor with other think tanks that lean Democratic.
posted by Dan on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM
But wait a moment. Weren't the "triumvirate" founded precisely because the think tank environment had been dominated by liberal think tanks like the Brookings Institution (unsually described by PBS et al as "non-partisan"?) I'm sure you could point to a number of existing liberal think tanks, plus other institutions such as the Kennedy School that serve a similar purpose in giving employment to Democrats who've been voted out, or lost their jobs when their bosses were. Why is one more going to make a difference?
I think several commentators have had it right in discussing the Schwarzenegger/McClnitock 60%+ vote total in California -- over the long term, it appears that the center is moving rightward. The Democratic party likely has to adjust to this reality. One more think tank isn't going to make much difference if its endowment is simply funding more of the same.posted by: John Bruce on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
The Cato institute is listed as part of the rightist triumvirate, but isn't that the same think tank that was buglarized by Nixon's CREEP for being too "liberal"?
That's good advice. It will be difficult to follow.
It runs into the Mondale tradition in the Democratic Party: the pursuit of a majority by means of assembling a coalition of interest groups. The respective agenda's of the interest groups in the coalition are not subject to compromise during the campaign season, a significant problem when a) the campaign season never ends and b) interest group agendas clash with one another, as for example Union and environmental agendas sometimes do.
A think tank that seek ideological coherence can do it by divorcing itself from the interest groups in the Democratic coalition, but after doing so will have some difficulty remaining relevant to Democratic politics. This is because the key interest groups -- trial lawyers, feminists, teachers unions and so forth -- are the major sources of money and votes for Democratic candidates. Podesta's think tank will be able to provide neither.
Why is not the same kind of thing a problem for Republican-leaning interest groups? Well, it is, just not to the same extent. The Republican Party's dominant constituency, business, has many concerns about government -- but the largest of these is the desire to be left alone, a desire easily accomodated by think tanks of varying conservative ideologies. Too, the GOP's long occupancy of the White House has left a large body of people with experience in foreign policy and national security affairs, a field in which the major Democratic interest groups have until recently displayed little interest outside of specific issues like Israel. There has been a trend recently of conservative think tanks promoting certain ideas -- eliminating the estate tax for example -- that appear to be of direct and disproportionate interest to the wealthy individuals who help finance the think tanks. This trend reflects the main problem Podesta's proposed think tank may have: the difficulty of separating its output from the things its backers want from government.posted by: Zathras on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
My quesion is whether Democrats would be willing to financially support this think tank if it comes with the caveat that it won't be helping the party win elections immediately. This could be a problem if Bush hatred is as high as it seems and Democrats are willing to spend money only if it helps them beat Bush.
And Dan, you need to fix one of the links to the think tanks.
I don't think the center of the country "moved" to the right (if it did—didn't Gore win the popular vote?) spontaneously; it was at least in part pushed there by a conservative program. This included an extensive and well-funded system of think tanks, creation of a complete alternative and extremely biased medium in talk radio (now branching into Fair and Balanced TV), improved get out the vote campaigns, and a much better job than the Democrats of imposing party discipline for long-term gain. I don't recall seeing the Republican Party move to the left in the post-Goldwater years; if anything it moved to the right as it absorbed Southern Democrats, many of whom were bigots, but whose votes counted the same.
I'm not sure the Democratic Party should follow exactly this program in mirror image, but I think it does show it's possible for parties to move the polity, not only the other way around.
Although the Arnold+McClintock total is somewhat unnerving (by the way, the turnout was not higher than before), the emergence of funny, nasty liberals like Al Franken and the acceptance of their message at the top of the best-seller list is a pretty encouraging sign.posted by: Andrew Lazarus on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
The modern Republican party is a study in contradictions. It's agenda is being driven by extremely small radical groups while its appeal remains populist. An article a while pointed out that this has been increasingly the case ever since Nixon's Southern strategy when he identified that blue-collar men were politically up for grabs.
The mainstream perception of Democrats is that they are relatively elitist (big city liberals,etc.) and composed primarily of special interests (trial lawyers, teacher unions, feminists, gays, labor unions, etc.). However when you add it all up, you realize that Democrats actually have a more diverse body politic setting their agenda than Republicans do.
It's the perception that matters. This is what all that think-tanking and media has done. They've carefully packaged rather obnoxious policies in with policy appeals to social-value issues that resonate with voters but don't cost much to implement. Does it really cost the President that much to thunder against Castro really? Nope. Yet people buy it. That would be the real task for a Democratic think-tank - to come up with ideas that can recapture the popular imagination. Democrats are perceived as out of touch. Hence they become so.posted by: Oldman on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
Actually they don't. Democrats do not set their agenda on labor issues together; the leadership of the major labor unions tells them what their position will be. The Demcratic position on tort reform is exactly what trial lawyers say it is. The NEA determines what Democrats will say about education, and civil rights groups like the NAACP determine the party's position on affirmative action. Feminist groups dictate even the language Democrats are to use about abortion. Unfortunately for Castro, he has no major interest group championing his cause.
It does not occur to any of the major interest groups most of the time to trespass on the others' turf. The NEA will not express its own views on the Endangered Species Act, the Sierra Club does not opine on private school vouchers (interest groups do often echo one another's positions, but this is not the same thing). Policy positions for on most issues for most Democrats are determined by a fairly small group of people; it's just a different group depending on what the issue is.posted by: Zathras on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
Re Nixon and Watergate:
Brookings Institution not Cato.
And it wasn't broken into. There were plans "suggested" (I think by Liddy) to firebomb the place but they (thank God) never materialized. Nixon WH upset (there's the understatement) re Pentagon Papers and other "top secret" documents they believed were being held at the building.
SMGposted by: SteveMG on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
Too, the GOP's long occupancy of the White House has left a large body of people with experience in foreign policy and national security affairs, a field in which the major Democratic interest groups have until recently displayed little interest outside of specific issues like Israel.WTF? Two years and nine months???
posted by: Andrew Lazarus on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
Republicans have won a lot of elections recently, but they almost always seem to do it by running as tax-cutting, moderate Democrats. In 2002 they ran away from "Privatization" of social security. Overall, they presented a case where they wouldn't cut social spending much but would also lower taxes. Arnold, the 2002 Republican victories, and Bush in 2000 all ran campaigns where they promised to simultaneously maintain "Liberal" programs AND cut taxes. Of course, this leads to massive deficit spending. Not exactly a great policy approach. Nor is it a victory for the Right, except insofar is it keeps us from discussing Health Care in America. Look at Alabama: The Republican governor ran against the Democrat by promising not to raise taxes. of course, he had to try to anyway. He failed, and Alabama is facing a serious fiscal crisis.
On Social Issues, this has happened as well. Republicans focused on Partial Birth Abortion, not most abortions. They largely are unwilling to state their real opinions loudly in debate. When someone says something openly, they tend to backtrack.
I'm not surprised Republicans win elections. They often run on infeasible and pleasing platforms that can't work in the longterm. Selling the Iraq war, they avoided all discussion of the aftermath. The problem Republicans face is that they are running on untenable platforms. Eventually, they will have to break promises. As people see the way Republicans fall, the Republican Party will tend to lose a lot of support.
Democrats do need new big ideas, but Republicans need to review their own and try to make them correspond to the world. You can't cut taxes forever without cutting programs. You can't topple regimes without paying for rebuilding. You can't always promise everything. As Republican policies inevitably diverge from their promises, I suspect the Republicans will start losing a lot of elections. I think the steady drop of the President's popularity has everything to do with people realizing the actual implications of his policies.posted by: MDtoMN on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
Social Democrats, USA
Splitting the Republican Coalition
Irving Kristol is a leading spokesman among neoconservatives. He co-edits the Public Interest, a journal that is often an excellent source on political and economic matters. Kristol did a piece for the Wall Street Journal in June called "Times of Transformation." In it he delivers a seminal analysis of the current political scene. The article, although not so intended, suggests a winning strategy for Democrats.
Kristol points out that the conservative revolution in the Republican Party occurred in 1964 when Rockefeller lost the presidential nomination. He argues that the liberal revolution captured the Democratic Party in 1972 with the nomination of George McGovern.
Kristol described the current Republican coalition as consisting primarily of two main strains: economic and social conservatives. The economic conservatives are anti-state and the social conservatives are anti-liberal who view liberalism "as corroding and subverting the virtues that they believe must be the bedrock of decent society." He believes that the differences between the economic conservatives and the social conservatives produce "tensions" between the two groups. Kristol's long range view is that the social conservatives represent "an authentic mass movement that gathers strength with every passing year."posted by: Luther on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
The Democrat's #1 problem is the Death of Socialism which I blogged over at Winds of Change on May 16th, 2003.
In my opinion that leaves them with Civil Liberties issues like the Drug War and the Patriot Act.
And for you critics out there it doesn't mean an immediate end of socialist enactments. A dead animal can still do a lot of dangerous twitching. The deal is that socialism has peaked. Like a sine curve the initial decline will be small. Accelerating over time. My point is the trends.
I do not think America has moved right as much as it has moved back to the ideas of the founders. Small government. Self reliant people.
What the Democrats need to do is to fight for the center.
Government out of my wallet, government out of my bedroom.posted by: M. Simon on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
BTW I think the social conservative movement is not gaining strength as fast as the middle is growing and it represents a dead end for the Republican Party.
Socially liberal fiscal conservatives like Arnie in Calif are the future. And when I say like Arnie I'm talking about how he ran. How he governs remains to be seen.posted by: M. Simon on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
Oh wow, it appears that some people wish to overcomplicate something that’s very easy to understand. The liberal academic establishment is comprised of cowardly “scholars” seeking a six figure annual income. These wimpy people have not in any way, shape , or fashion, taken conservatives seriously . At best, they have lightly perused their writings and slanderously taken them out of context. The crap has finally hit the fan. Why is this? The Internet forces them out into the light of day. They can no longer hide behind their ivy walls.
A few years ago, one would have been essentially impotent in taking these intellectual weasels to task. I might have, for instance, written a private letter to a particular academic. Alas, nobody else would have read it except the recipient---and they could merely throw it unread into the waste paper basket. Baby, we now live in a new and exciting world. I can now post my thoughts and they might be read by hundreds, if not thousands of folks.posted by: David Thomson on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
My suggestion -- get Arnie's new gov't program auditor to keep a blog. The WSJ says it will be Donna Arduin, who has done a good job in Florida and other places. Imagine if she accepts daily blogging about pork barrel politics. Imagine cleaning up California -- doing the job the pols said is impossible. It could, literally, change politics for ever, and almost certainly for better. (Whether Arnie is called "libertarian" or not.) ref: http://www.opinionjournal.com/politicaldiary/?id=110004148
Kinda like universal healthcare? Raising taxes during a recovery? Throwing more money into the NEAs education blackhole? Worse, those are the only policy initiatives I have even seen put forth domestically by democrats. Reflexively opposing republicans is not exactly a progressive policy.
I think that the elephant in the living room has come to light in this discussion. Democrats are a very disperate party. The problem with having concrete ideas and proposals is that they have to be concrete. Once they are out there, every special interest that has a problem with them explodes and civil war ensues (or else you placate the special interests and have policies dictated by the most radically liberal of constituents, which the party knows is political suicide). This is healthy but painful (republicans underwent a similiar process in the early 90s), because once it is done a coalition can be formed with the best ideas and argued for with passion. That is not possible with the dems at the moment, and will continue to be so as long as they spend their time debating how best to say as little as possible, instead of making tough choices.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
My advice to Podesta -- look at what the conservative think tanks say and either 1) take the opposite viewpoint, or 2) point out that whatever viewpoint is espoused by the conservative think tank is wrong, simply because a conservative think tank said it. From there is is rather easy, whichever option you pick, you should some how relate it back to Bush and use it to prove that he is Hitler, the Antichrist, stupid, etc. This method has worked especially well for the Democratic party lately Nationwide. Take California for example, . . . oh wait, nevermind.
Seriously though, I believe that Mr. Drezner's advice should be taken not just by Mr. Podesta, but by the Democratic party as a whole. As a younger voter I am inclined to think that the only thing the Democratic party does is react to whatever the conservatives do. This course of action does nothing to make me believe that they are the better party, at best it makes me believe that the Republicans are not acting correctly. Instead of rising to the competition - on an ideological level - the Democrats seem to operate on the basis of bringing the other party down. Until this changes, I will never feel comfortable voting for the Democratic party.
Robert Habichposted by: R. Habich on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
Texas GOP Platform
The Party calls for the United States monetary system to be returned to the gold standard. Since the Federal Reserve System is a private corporation, has no reserves, and is not subject to taxation or audit, we call on Congress to abolish this institution and reassume its authority, enumerated by Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, for the coinage of money.posted by: everythingthatglitters on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
Re: "I don't recall seeing the Republican Party move to the left in the post-Goldwater years"
The Republican party moved very much to the left during the post-Goldwater years. You obviously don't recall that Nixon's policies for fighting "stagflation" included wage and price controls, not what you would call a conservative approach. Each party strove to "out-compassion" the other, resulting in huge growth in social spending as encumbents sought to buy votes with government spending. Libertarians at that time referred to the Democrats and the Republicans as Socialist Party A and Socialist Party B. It was reaction to this leftward tilt that swept Reagan into office and signalled that the swing to the right had begun.
Since then the center has moved further to the right. Witness Bill Clinton successfully running as a New Democrat promoting free trade, sponsoring trade missions all over the world, and promoting American business. It was he who signed the welfare reform bill, which began to put an end to the inherently racist welfare policies that fostered dependence on liberal government programs.
Mr. Simon may be onto something when he says the number one problem for the Democrats is the death of socialism. What do you do when the model for all your liberal solution drops dead on you? The realization by some Democrats that socialism has been a failure, is by itself a move to the right.posted by: Tom Bowler on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
"Witness Bill Clinton successfully running as a New Democrat promoting free trade, sponsoring trade missions all over the world, and promoting American business. It was he who signed the welfare reform bill, which began to put an end to the inherently racist welfare policies that fostered dependence on liberal government programs."
And guess what? I am convinced that a Bill Clinton would not stand a chance in winning the Democrat nomination in 2004. He would be perceived as too conservative! It is ironic that the Internet is likely dooming the chances of the Democrats. Why is this? The Internet allows the real crazies to band together and support Howard Dean. A Dean type campaign, in the not too distant past, would have been the proverbial underdog.posted by: David Thomson on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
David, dont kid yourself. The only reason that the luny left can make any noise right now is because the old school democratic machinery is intentionally sitting on the sidelines. Dont underestimate the amount of money and arm twisting that McCauliff and the Clintons can do if they get behind a candidate for real. They are the ultimate king makers in the party. Theyre motives for letting Dean have his head are pretty obvious considering Hillary's situation. No democrat not named Clinton is going to be given the tools to win the white house in 04. Dean is useful at the moment in insuring that.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
"And guess what? I am convinced that a Bill Clinton would not stand a chance in winning the Democrat nomination in 2004."
I would disagree based on the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" effect. I think a conservative Democrat would be very popular with the average American, and success in the primaries would force the left to accept a candidate who is less than pure. Keep an eye on Joe Lieberman.
Did you notice the recent poll that showed Bush's approval going up? In spite of all the best efforts at painting Bush as a liar and incompetent, approval of his performance went up. For the lefties that means the American people are dumber than they ever imagined. Hence the need for new think tanks whose purposes will not be to find new solutions, but to find new ways to package the old and get the gravy train running again.posted by: Tom Bowler on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
I should have been more specific: GOP economic policy moved in the post-Goldwater years. It seems, frankly, to be moving back, with the plan to grow the deficit so large that drastic reductions in social programs are made inevitable. (Like some Democratic strategies, file this one under "Too clever by half.") GOP social policy moved to the right ("Southern strategy", Christian Coalition). GOP foreign policy moved all over, with Nixon to China, but Reagan to Bitburg.
Bill Clinton would win renomination in a landslide. Remember, peace and prosperity?! This idea that the Democratic Party is taken over by nutcases suggests you guys need to get out more.
M. Simon: Socially liberal fiscal conservatives like Arnie in Calif are the future. Didn't you mean Howard Dean!? We know he can balance budgets. So far Arnie is just promising.
D. Thomson: Thousands of empty-headed Limbaugh wannabes will read and applaud your attack on so-called lazy, greedy academics, but I don't think the host of this blog will be very much amused.posted by: Andrew Lazarus on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
Oh, on the contrary, I'm greatly amused. Dismissive, to be sure, but certainly amused.posted by: Dan Drezner on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
"This idea that the Democratic Party is taken over by nutcases suggests you guys need to get out more."
Visited the democratic underground lately? Certainly the segment of the party pushing Dean would support Satan himself if he could beat Bush. The hatrid is rabid and palpable.
"M. Simon: Socially liberal fiscal conservatives like Arnie in Calif are the future. Didn't you mean Howard Dean!? We know he can balance budgets. "
What, in Vermont? Excuse me if I cant stop chuckling. I doubt Vermont's economy is the size of San Diego county. I mean, I can balance my checkbook, does that make me qualified to be the Comptroller of IBM?
“...but I don't think the host of this blog will be very much amused.”
“Oh, on the contrary, I'm greatly amused. Dismissive, to be sure, but certainly amused.”
Gee whiz, did I say that every academic is an empty headed idiot? Are some people feeling guilty? I was though, thinking of academics like those dominating Middle Eastern studies in the United States. Martin Kramer has written a splendid work entitled Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America. It might behoove some people to take a look at this link:
Ever heard of the fatuous Edward Said? He was widely wined and dined as some sort of intellectual giant on matters pertaining to the Middle East. The liberal think tanks couldn’t get enough of his nonsense. Liberals have indeed been acting cowardly and relying on rhetorical cheap shots. However, the Internet is rapidly helping us to force them into the sunlight of vigorous intellectual inquiry. They can hide no longer.
Am I an example of the anti-intellectual jerks taken to task by the Richard Hofstadter in his fantastic “Anti-Intellectualism in America.” Not in the least. Taking academics with a huge grain of salt should be highly encouraged. Bill Buckley, for instance, is right on target in saying that he would rather be governed by the first thousand names in the Boston phonebook than the entire Harvard faculty. This is just plain common sense to me.
Democratic Underground? Fair trade for Free Republic?
Yeah, I wonder if Vermont's economy is even as big as Arkansas's, and for sure no governor of a small economy like Arkansas could bala—
David T might want to consider the response of old-fashioned academe to the shoddy work of Michael Bellesiles (it forced him out, once the clamor was too loud) and the response of the new, bold, audacious conservative right to the perhaps even shoddier work of John Lott. He's still drawing a salary, and in fact has a new piece up on the American Enterprise Institute website. The new intellectual enterprise seems, oddly enough, no more (perhaps less) honest than the old one.
Your remarks about Edward Said are dubious. I'm not a great fan of his work on orientalism, but a great many people I respect were. His views on the Middle East were attractive to the mid- to far- left, and I wouldn't want totally to demonize them, but they were hardly his bread and butter entree to what I think of as mainstream liberal think tanks. I didn't research this much, so if you have any evidence to proffer, I'll look at it.posted by: Andrew Lazarus on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
Dear Mr Buenher,
Now wait just one minute here. I will stand behind anything I say. But you attributed something written to me that was written by MDtoMN and not myself!
This incident is something like a previous thread where Thompson managed to come up with a derisive rebuttal - that was exactly indentical in content to a point made in my post.
I don't what you fricking believe. If you ideological kneejerks are so disconnected from reality that you can't see plain facts, no idea you have is gonna be able to be executed well. It'll sound good, but you won't be able to deliver. This is a good description of this Admin's policy in Iraq. Sounds pretty, but lacks common sense.posted by: Oldman on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
“David T might want to consider the response of old-fashioned academe to the shoddy work of Michael Bellesiles (it forced him out, once the clamor was too loud) and the response of the new, bold, audacious conservative right to the perhaps even shoddier work of John Lott.”
Instapundit and others on the Internet forced the academic community to rebuke Michael Bellesiles. The problems with his book were initially ignored by the professional historians. I forget the guy’s name, but it was an amateur historian who originally criticized “Arming American” in a meticulous scholarly manner. Lott is being charged with falsifying one aspect of his overall work. Bellesiles’ proven lies were far more pervasive.
Instapundit has personally expressed his concerns about John Lott. Many candidly admit that one of his studies seems possibly fraudulent. Lastly, it is a true scandal that even one alleged Mid Eastern scholar takes Edward Said’s shabby “Orientalism” seriously. Bernard Lewis is the greatest Muslim scholar in probably the last fifty years. This article written in 1990 should be read by everyone trying to understand the current crisis in the Muslim world:posted by: David Thomson on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
David, I've only read the most recent of Lewis's books (maybe two), and I think he's starting to recycle himself. That said, my gut feeling was that his work was extremely insightful. Nonetheless, I know people with a great deal of personal experience in the Muslim world who think "Orientalism", which is specifically targetted at Lewis, was a great book.
Still waiting on Said's pro-Palestinian views and the mainstream liberal think tanks.
Why is Lott still at AEI, and if it's just that under contract he can't be fired on the spot, why is he still publishing articles on their web site? Outrageous as Bellesiles was, he never stooped to defending himself (with false statements) under a pseudonym.posted by: Andrew Lazarus on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
The Republican Party has almost complete control over the government. They have managed to create a Budget with a Huge deficit. A Deficit that will not dissappear with any reasonable expectation of economic growth. The Republican Party has proven that it cannot claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility. They aren't fiscally responsible. It's that simple.posted by: MDtoMN on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
"But you attributed something written to me that was written by MDtoMN and not myself!"
"I don't what you fricking believe. If you ideological kneejerks are so disconnected from reality that you can't see plain facts, no idea you have is gonna be able to be executed well. "
Actually I'm about as far from an idiological kneejerk as you'll find. I'm what you might call a 'progressive libertarian'. A contradiction in terms? Probably, but I've always thought irrational consistancy was the least of virtues. I believe in what works. I strongly oppose Bush on his reckless domestic program, particularly expanded subsidies and tariffs. I can barely stomach the massively increased budget as a Keynsian economic stimulus. The tax cuts I approve of. Regardless, the proof is in the pudding and the recovery is well under way. This recession was mild by any historic standard, and Bush should get some credit for that, particularly with the external circumstances impacting the economy. I stand by my premise that no-one can balance the budget at this time without emasculating the economy. Economic theory suggests that the time to run a deficit is in a recession, which we have done. Whether there is anyone with the political will to get spending under control at this point is the question. As I said, there isnt a democrat in the field that has proposed so much as a dollar less in spending (outside the military of course).posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
I think Mark brings up some good points here. He's quite correct that the time to run a deficit is during a recession. What worries me is that (1) theory holds that the tax cuts should have benefited lower-income taxpayers more, which may be why the recovery is still as anemic as the recession was mild and (2) by absolutely all accounts except George Bush's [e.g., the GAO], we have at least a $100Bn [pre-Iraq] structural deficit, i.e., the economic recovery itself will leave the budget far out of balance. I note that the Hoover Institute economists were not one bit more eager than the Democratic candidates to indicate what $100Bn of government spending is to be eliminated, perhaps under the thought that their "starve-the-beast" program is a political loser if its goals are forthrightly advertised in advance.
I also note that the Governor-elect of California failed to indicate what $20Bn of state spending he intends to eliminate (indeed, much of his debate-ducking campaign strategy was based on avoiding this question), and when he does present his budget, I think many of his supporters are in for a rude surprise.posted by: Andrew Lazarus on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
"Nonetheless, I know people with a great deal of personal experience in the Muslim world who think "Orientalism", which is specifically targetted at Lewis, was a great book."
So what? The only thing that matters is whether these folks have substantial reasons for believing that "Orientalism" is a great book. Mere mushy sentiment does not count!
"Still waiting on Said's pro-Palestinian views and the mainstream liberal think tanks."
Have your ordered a copy of Martin Kramer's "Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America?" I can only do so much. It's up to you to make an effort. Have you ever heard of Ibn Warraq? The following link might be of interest.posted by: David Thomson on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
"I also note that the Governor-elect of California failed to indicate what $20Bn of state spending he intends to eliminate (indeed, much of his debate-ducking campaign strategy was based on avoiding this question), and when he does present his budget, I think many of his supporters are in for a rude surprise."
The situation in California is really a mess. Arnold Schwarzenegger could prove to be the greatest governor in our nation’s history---and he still will not be able to govern in a pain free manner. Californians are similar to the proverbial drunk who has blown his family's finances. Alas, there is a cruel price that must be paid.
Will Arnold’s supporters be in for a “rude surprise?” Not hardly, they are mostly mature adults who know the reality of the situation. Neither an individual or a state government instantaneously gets itself out of overwhelming debt. Only liberal ideologues believe in utopian fairy tales. The rest of us have to live in the real world.posted by: David Thomson on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
David, I really disagree: the adult candidates in the CA recall were McClintock and maybe even the Green, Camejo. McClintock had a plan to balance the budget based on five bills to reduce spending drastically, which he intended to place as initiatives if (rather, when) the Legislature rejected them. No one gave McClintock or his initiatives much of a chance.
Arnold has to deal with (1) state law prohibiting a deficit, (2) a no-new-taxes pledge, (3) a no K-12 cut pledge [single largest slice of discretionary state budget pie], (4) state law prohibiting use of bonds for continuing operations, (5) state credit rating near junk status already, anyway, (6) little chance of delivering the state for Bush in 2004 regardless of any bailout plan [at least, not if the state has any significance in the national election]. I think a lot of voters aren't well-enough informed. Don't voters usually overestimate the share of foreign aid in the Federal budget by a factor of about 100? I think a lot of voters overestimate how much money can be squeezed out of welfare programs. The cuts are going to affect services they didn't realize were going to get hit: huge college tuition increases (following on many others), little infrastructure work, early paroles, and so on.posted by: Andrew Lazarus on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
"David, I really disagree: the adult candidates in the CA recall were McClintock and maybe even the Green, Camejo. McClintock had a plan to balance the budget based..."
I am against most "plans." At best, human beings intelligently muddle through the best they can. Have we already forgotten the Soviet’s infamous five year plans? The new governor is surrouded by some very bright people. It is also obvious that that you are echoing the liberal establishment’s plan of attack on the new Arnold Schwarzenegger administration. Gosh, I can cynically see the near future LA Times headline:
“90 Days After the Election---and Everything is Not Perfect”
This is an economic screw up almost entirely created by California’s liberal democrats. Thus, it might be wise for those of the liberal persuasion to be a bit more humble. After all, somebody else is cleaning up their mess.posted by: Dvid Thomson on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
You're evading the question, David, and so is Arnold. I'll grant that the Democratic Party was complicit in the mess, although a minority share of blame goes to the energy companies and GW Bush. That doesn't prove or even suggest that Arnold will do better. Why don't we get back together after he presents his first budget?posted by: Andrew Lazarus on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
Well, lets look at it the other way. McClintock, assuming he could have been elected (which he couldnt) would very likely have proposed some of the things being suggested. They would have been DOA in the California state legislature, and McClintock himself viewed as an upsurper. Arnold, at the least, has a bully pulpit. He will have the statewide and national spotlight if the democrats decide to ignore him. Basically, Arnold has a chance (whether he takes advantage or not). McClintock would have been able to accomplish zero. And would have lost, badly, in the next election.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
Fascinating debate about differences between Republican and Democrats. I do believe there are three primary axis in national politics:
1) National Security-Foreign Affairs
2) The Economy
3) Social Policy
The Republicans have a pretty steady lock on the first axis by the American People. Especially after 911, any candidate that doesn't present a national security strategy is doomed. Clinton got a pass due to the end of the Cold War and the World was in a state of transition. Right now the primary debate between R and Ds is how to frame national security. The Republicans advocate that National Security is the United States responsibility. Democrats (including Clark and with the exception of Kur.) are beginning to argue that National Security is a multi-lateral affair. How will this fair in the marketplace of ideas? Republicans have the advantage but it is possible that the Democrats through Clark can produce an articulate message. Still, it would have to very presuasive to get past the Republicans
Axis 2: Economic Policy. In this both sides appear deadlocked. No one can seriously argue the idea of a balanced budget but everyone wants increased spending. The only question is what spending and where to get the money. Demo argue that recsinding the tac cuts will gain the money...however this seems a little disturbing since most of the cuts appear to expire in 10 years and the idea of Universal Coverage probably won't.
Axis Three: Social Policy. This is where the advantage appears to be in the Democrat's (except in certain extreme cases)favor. Americans believe in fair play and equality. Gay rights is a classic example of where the Republicans social conservatives sabotage the Republican party as a whole. However, Democrats shouldn't get too complacent: Relgion is a touchy subject that could easy turn against them. The entire God in the Pledge of Alliegence rucus is something the left-wing of the Democratic party could easy hijack. Same with abortion: Americans are disquited about abortion and they feel it is a sad but sometimes necceassy procedure that should not be celebrated. This is something that Naral appears not to understand. Still, the Social issues appear to favor Democrats.
These three axis are of course intertwined: 80 billion to Iraq for example. Reproductive policy overseas as another example.posted by: Jim on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
Conservatives, he went on, ''have their eight words in a bumper sticker: 'Less government. Lower taxes. Less welfare. And so on.'
Problem here is that he can't count. That's nine words.posted by: Robert Schwartz on 10.12.03 at 04:30 PM [permalink]
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