This is one of those mornings where you pick up the paper, sigh, and think, “Where to begin?” (Better, perhaps, not to pick up the paper in the first place? Or start with the sports page: as C.S. Lewis wrote, in the sports page at least half the news will be true.)
Topic #1: Nothing so ratifies the essentially reactionary nature of Obama’s liberalism than his speech yesterday in Kansas, where he is now attempting to assume the mantle of both Roosevelts—Teddy as well as Franklin. So he’s going to try to combine Teddy’s populism of 1912 with FDR’s attack-the-rich class envy of 1936, with an overlay of Truman’s “do-nothing Congress” strategy of 1948. Under it all is an economic ignorance—ATMs and the internet cost jobs??—so appalling that it confirms the long-standing stories as well as Ron Suskind’s reporting that Obama and his senior team don’t listen to their economists. But above all, whatever happened to the liberalism that was about the future, about “the new frontier,” if it is reduced to using 100-year old rhetoric and 70 year-old campaign strategies? I thought that kind of backward-looking politics was the job on conservatives?
Topic #2: What else—Newt. My pal Ramesh Ponnuru makes the smackdown case against Newt in his latest Bloomberg column. I have one rule in life: never argue with Ramesh, because the probability of defeat asymptotically approaches 1.0. I may offer a partial counter-argument anyway. More doubtful is Kathleen Parker’s column today attacking Newt for his “put poor kids to work” remark the other day, which she joins liberals in thinking a suicidal gaffe. I’m not so sure. I think it might be one of those remarks like Ronald Reagan’s “Vietnam was a noble cause” speech that everyone in the chattering classes thinks is self-evidently stupid, but which real people out in the real world quietly nod their head and think, “damn right.” (I know I’m not the first to say this, but has Kathleen been drinking the fluoridated water from the NY Times drinking fountain or something?)
Topic #3: I’m slowly working my way up to a new Power Line series, like the one earlier this year on Progressivism Then and Now, on some of the theoretical differences between Left and Right and why we should keep them in mind when confronting current issues. But one item this morning is making me jump the gun: the headline in the print edition of the WaPo of Harold Meyerson’s column today (the online hed is different): “Democracy is losing ground to markets.” If this were really true, it would be reason to stand on the rooftops and yell, “Hooray!” because markets are more truly democratic than are our corrupted “democratic” institutions of the modern administrative state. Full footnotes and lecture to follow.