Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The week in self criticism

About me? Of course not. I'm perfect just the way I am.

Jonah Goldberg and Mathew Yglesias have articles out on a few things their respective parties need to fix. In National Review Goldberg repeats the oft asked “What ever happened to small government?” and "argues that "American conservatism is overdue for a reformation" , concluding

"Too many in the GOP have felt the rush that comes with giving out other people’s money, and as a result the party has become “worldly,” as Martin Luther might put it, selling favors like indulgences of yore. We have confused “low taxes” — which we all like — with limited government, which we don’t have. We expect Democrats to want the government to do everything, but at least they have the consistency to raise taxes in order to pay for it. Republicans lack similar convictions. Which is why they need to be born again."

Yglesias in the American Prospect, takes on Dean and Pelosi's botched anti-war(anti-victory) strategery:

"Instead, DNC Chair Howard Dean last week blundered right into the White House trap by proclaiming victory unattainable, rather than arguing more sensibly that the administration's definition of victory as something like the indefinite continuation of the war is perverse and wrongheaded.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has, if anything, been worse. She responded to Bush's new political push by first proclaiming herself a proponent of leaving Iraq as soon as possible, then by saying that most of the caucus agrees with her, and then by saying that the caucus wouldn't be adopting this as its official position. Telling the world that most House Democrats have a position on Iraq that they don't intend to expound and defend in public is bizarre and merely opens the door for Republicans to define their opponents' views any way they choose. Pelosi was trying, one assumes, to accommodate the existence of diverse viewpoints within the party, which is understandable. But at a December 8 press conference, she managed to explain this diversity of views in the most counterproductive way possible, describing the war as "not like an issue such as prescription drugs or Social Security, which are core issues to the Democratic Party." Thus, House Democrats apparently both have a secret plan to lose the war, and don't consider national security to be a topic that should be taken all that seriously anyway."


Blogger Germanicu$ said...

At first blush (I only read mk's clips, not the entire pieces), Goldberg calls his party out for failure of policy and inconsistency of ideology, whereas Yglesias faults his party for their catastrophic political blunders.

Thus the damage the Dems are doing is to their credibility, whereas the damage the GOP is doing is to the security and fiscal solvency of the nation. It should be crystal clear, even to bunny-rabbits with pancakes on their heads, that the latter is a far more deleterious development than the former.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

" a result the party has become “worldly,” as Martin Luther might put it..."

Why must conservatives needlessly refernce historical figures to shore up their points? Is quoting Luther supposed to lend legitimacy and erudition to Goldberg's comments? From now on, I'm going to call that "Victor Davis Hanson Syndrome."

12:48 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

I sometimes think that if liberals would reference history more they might not be liberals. I'm going to call that "George Santayana Syndrome".

12:59 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Great post MK, but Liberals are all about history; haven't you ever heard of Howard Zinn?

I think what Lucianne's baby boy is saying about Republicans is pretty spot on, though I think he doesn't take it far enough. For years Republicans, exiled to the hinterlands of legislative potency, had the leisure to rail against big government Democrats for spending us into oblivion, because they weren't in power, it was easy, and it was a good way to score points in Peoria. Now that they are the lords of all they survey, the essentially propagandistic nature of the Republicans' "fiscal conservatism" is becoming obvious. My guess is that from here on out, no single party will dominate in anything like the way the Republicans have for the last decade, or the Democrats in the 40 years before that. What this means for fiscal conservatism is that it will slowly become decoupled from a single-party identity, and become the domain of a few charismatic, white-haired senate and congressional scolds on the margins of their parties' power structures. Americans don't want their legislators' to practice fiscal discipline; they want other people's legislators to practice fiscal discipline. I don't know how to get out of that trap.

Yglesias on the Dems also had it right. There's no reason in the world why a San Francisco Democrat--especially one as prescription medication-addled looking as Pelosi--should be running the Congressional caucus. I would be willing to forgive her stupid rhetoric if she--like Dean--were an effective organizer or money raiser, but I can't see where she's either of those things. Harry Reid does as good a job as any Democrat can on message control and unified responses in the Senate, but Pelosi has been a disaster in that respect. I also don't see any evidence that she cares or knows much about security issues, which should be one of the first qualifications for party leadership these days.

12:20 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

"Americans don't want their legislators' to practice fiscal discipline; they want other people's legislators to practice fiscal discipline."

Ain't that the truth?
Reminds me of the right to free speech. It's not about your right to say what you want, it's about your neigbor's right to say something you don't want to hear.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

" a result the party has become “worldly,” as Martin Luther might put it..."

I still can't get over this. "Bravo, brother Jonah! 'Tis precisely Luther's meaning of 'worldly' that sums up the situation of the party. Really 'hits,' as Kant would say, the nail on the head." Is there some Lutheran intellectual sensibility on NRO which only Jonah knows about?

And is he really trying to say that "selling favors like indulgences of yore" (chanted, I imagine, to the accompaniment of a lute and jester) is some new thing for the GOP? Give me a break. Those guys have been dirty little whores to Big Everything for as long as the dirty little system has been around.

Jonah Goldberg is a pathetic idiot.

5:50 PM  

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