Harold Meyerson recycles his “Republicans have no ideas” column. This claim is nonsensical, as I show below. Indeed, one wonders whether Meyerson’s persistence in peddling it stems from a heightened sensitivity to the long-prevailing view (also largely nonsensical) that the Democrats have been devoid of ideas. As I’ve suggested before, Meyerson’s “no ideas” meme may have more to do with settling old intellectual scores, and perhaps overcoming an intellectual inferiority complex, than with reality.
In reality, the claim that a party lacks ideas is almost always a claim that the ideas of one’s opponents are (in some combination) bad, stale, and/or unpopular. Meyerson’s latest rehearsal proves to be no exception.
Since the Republicans govern the country, there is no issue as to which the party has “no ideas.” Consider the war on terrorism, where a partial listing of Republican ideas (ones to which the party’s leadership and a majority of the party’s members subscribe) includes the following:
Terrorism remains an enormous threat to this country.
Intelligence about what the terrorists are up to is indispensable to fighting terrorism.
To obtain that the best intelligence, we should interrogate terrorists more aggressively than the pronouncments of most liberal Democrats indicate they are in favor of doing.
To obtain that intelligence, we should also be more aggressive in our approach to monitoring al Qaeda’s communications, including those with people in the U.S., than the pronouncments of most liberal Democrats indicate they are in favor of being.
Captured terrorists and those picked up in battles with terrorist forces should not receive nearly as much process as members of our own military receive when they accused of offenses and, in additional respects, should not receive as much process as the pronouncements of most liberal Democrats indicated they are in favor of providing.
We should not withdraw our forces from Iraq either immediately or pursuant to some pre-set timetable because doing so would hand a victory to the terrorists in Iraq and to the government of Iran which supports radical Shiite militias in Iraq.
We should seriously consider attacking Iran’s nuclear capacity as a preemptive measure.
Meyerson dismisses these ideas as part of a “scare campaign.” But to the extent the ideas are valid, the public should be afraid to elect a party that does not firmly believe them (just as to the extent the ideas are not valid the public should be afraid to elect a party that holds them). So again, Meyerson is resorting to name-calling in place of argument. A good editor might just as well have deleted nearly all of his text and substituted the phrases, “I hate Republicans” and “Republicans going to lose election.”
The autobiographical statement seems hard to dispute. The predictive claim well be true (it’s the norm in the sixth year of a presidency that hasn’t already sustained big losses), but not if gasoline prices continue to drop substantially.