Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
BACKGROUND ON TRI-PEGGED CONSERVATISM TODAY (New York Review):
On foreign policy, despite the Iraq war, the neoconservatives still hold tremendous sway in GOP circles. Jacob Heilbrunn, a former New Republic writer who has written incisively about the movement over the years, explains why in They Knew They Were Right, his excellent new history of neoconservatism. Heilbrunn adroitly surveys the movement's history, from the Trotskyist alcoves of the City College cafeteria up to the present day. With respect to the future, he argues that the neocons' main potential competitors, the foreign policy realists, have not prepared for long-term battle the way the neocons have ***Here's Tomasky's conclusion:
the theoconservatives are thought to be on the defensive this election cycle, with their grip on the GOP loosening. In some superficial ways this is true. There is no candidate who passes every one of their basic litmus test issues, and, if Rudy Giuliani wins the nomination, the party will have selected a pro-choice nominee for the first time since 1976. Still, where is the countervailing force to the religious right in the party? As with the neocons, there is none. (Frances FitzGerald and other writers have observed a more liberal trend among some of the large evangelical churches; but right-wing evangelicals continue to dominate among Republicans.) There are also organizations like the Ripon Society, which tries to press moderate social programs within the party, and there are nominal blocs of libertarians, but these groups are vastly outspent and outnumbered. ***
the third leg of the conservative movement is in many ways the most important and comprehensive: all conservatives agree on less government, lower taxes, and less regulation. And all the candidates have pledged to support these goals.
But at the same time, one must remember that as far as movement conservatives are concerned, Bush has been something of a disappointment, and vast chunks of their plan for the country remain unrealized. The neocons will not quit wanting a preemptive strike against Iran, something the December NIE has seemingly ruled out for the rest of Bush's term; they will welcome a fresh opportunity to push their case with an administration the public has not yet learned to distrust. The theocons still want Roe overturned, along with some other Warren Court precedents (watch, if the next president is a Republican, for a fresh assault on Warren-era decisions on criminal and civil procedure, for example Miranda v. Arizona). And for the radical anti-taxers' tastes, the federal government is still far too large, its regulations far too numerous, and income tax and capital gains tax rates, even at their already reduced levels, far too high, not to mention the continued existence of that pesky Social Security system.The Republican nominee, once he is named next spring, will undoubtedly tack toward the center during the general election campaign. But again, the important question is how he would govern. Presidents respond to the constituencies that put them in office, and a Republican president elected in 2008 will have been put in office by the factions that control his party. There is no reason to expect that he will defy those factions. Let us hope that in the long run, the Republicans outside them will decide to challenge their power.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
Thursday, June 21, 2007
One of Bush's top aides muses on the defining paradox of this presidency: How did a man who promised a change of tone in Washington preside over one of the most partisan and divisive periods in the country's history? Bush doesn't conduct feuds or hold personal grudges, this adviser insists. "The president is polarizing, even though he isn't polar." Here's where I find a disconnect: Bush's aides seem not to understand how Bush and Cheney's statements have poisoned the water.
Perhaps there is a structural problem caused by congressional redistricting, this aide reflects, with most Republicans and Democrats in safe one-party districts where the biggest threat is a challenge from their extreme wings. The aide pauses, and then offers a devastating analogy: "We may be the Israelis and Palestinians here, each trying to avenge the latest outrage." If so, that's not good for the country.David Ignatius
Sunday, June 10, 2007
During the 1990s, Paul Romer, a Stanford economist, emerged as one of the world’s leading theorists on economic growth. Recently, though, Romer has changed his focus, and he told me that the country, too, is entering a new phase. For most of the 20th century, he explained, economists focused on stability — that is, understanding and controlling inflation and depressions. Then, toward the end of the century, growth became the central obsession. Now, Romer said, we are embarking on the next great challenge in American economics: mitigating inequality.Matt Bai, a contributing writer, covers national politics for the NY Times magazine. His book, “The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics,” will be published in August.
Today, however, the partisan chasm in Washington is deeper than it has been in 100 years, according to some academic studies, as moderate blocs in both parties have all but vanished.But of course this is not the last word on moderation, or molasses-pace of change:
“I agree that it is a bad thing for it to take an extraordinarily long time to deal with problems,” said Mickey Edwards, a former Republican representative from Oklahoma and now a vice president of the Aspen Institute and a lecturer in government at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton. “But I think it is a worse thing to rush into solutions when you’re dealing with a nation of 300 million people.”Well said guys.
He cited Prohibition and the Medicare drug benefit as examples of laws that carried large and unintended consequences.
“I don’t suggest that given enough time you can make everything perfect,” Mr. Edwards said. “But you do need enough time to make sure all views are heard and you can avoid the unforeseen circumstances that plague so many things.”
“You don’t just want them to act,” he said. “You want them to act responsibly.”