Free Markets, Free People


Death Of An Era?

That’s what Nick Gillespie at Reason hopes the death of Ted Kennedy signals.

Gillespie says that when all the lionizing of Kennedy is said and done, a little perusal of what he has been responsible for during his tenure is called for. And, while doing that, we should ponder the effect on our national culture those pieces of legislation have had. After making that analysis, freedom loving people should vow, “never again”.

The legislation for which he will be remembered is precisely the sort of top-down, centralized legislation that needs to be jettisoned in the 21st century. Like Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) and the recently deposed Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Kennedy was in fact a man out of time, a bridge back to the past rather than a guide to the future. His mind-set was very much of a piece with a best-and-the-brightest, centralized mentality that has never served America well over the long haul.

Bigger was better, and government at every level but especially at the highest level, had to lead the way. In an increasingly flat, dispersed, networked world in which power, information, knowledge, purchasing power, and more was rapidly decentralizing, Kennedy was all for sitting at the top of a pyramid and directing activity. In this way, he was of his time and place, a post-war America that figured that all the kinks of everyday life had been mastered by a few experts in government, business, and culture. All you needed to do was have the right guys twirling the dials up and down. As thoughtful observers of all political stripes have noted, this sort of thinking was at best delusional, at worst destructive. And it was always massively expensive.

We are, at this very moment in time, confronting both the cost and the damage wrought by the Kennedy legacy. And the administration in place is, hopefully, the dying gasp of that sort of 20th century thinking brought forward by political impetus alone.

The real message of the August townhalls is that the American people have had enough of that sort of thinking and that sort of legislating. What you’re hearing and seeing are a people beginning to understand and reject the Byrds, Stevens, Kennedys, Obamas and Pelosis of the political world because the price, both literally and figuratively, has become much too high in terms of the their money and their liberty.

Ted Kennedy did what he believed was right and good for America. He was, as Gillespie says, a man of his time. As with all men, his time has passed. It is also time to bury his legacy because just like him, its time has passed as well.

~McQ

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29 Responses to Death Of An Era?

  • Teddy did what he thought was right and good for Ameica? Sure. Just long as what right and good pertained to his political life, and not his leetcherous personal life. Just so long as right and good involved advancing a partisan liberal agenda. No Kennedy was all about making rules for others and putting himself above the rules.

  • “Ted Kennedy did what he believed was right and good for America.”

    {spit} And Hitler did what he thought was good for Germany.

    I don’t understand the point. Sincerity is not a valid political standard.

  • When debating the health care/insurance reform debacle that’s going on with my friends, I always tell them that the reason the town halls have gotten so intense is not because of any “misinformation” or “racism” or “astroturfing”.
    It’s because a lot of people no longer have any faith in government to pull off these types of social welfare programs anymore. They’ve been burned one too many times.

    Welfare didn’t end poverty, the Department of Education hasn’t closed the test gaps, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are about flat broke, and now they want to shove this down out throats?
    We’re all just supposed to sit back and think “ah yes, this will take care of out health care problems”.
    “This time it will surely work!”

    Sorry, some of my friends my still believe, but I no longer have any faith in Government to pull these types of programs off.

    • I’d have a lot more respect for the angry people at town halls decrying government intervention in health care if they weren’t generally supportive of medicare.

      • The flaw in your logic is this: they’ve already paid into Medicare, and they weren’t given a choice in the matter. They want what they already paid for, but don’t want to pay more for something they don’t want.

        • I agree with Steverino. I think they know that Medicare’s a bust, but feel that since they’ve been paying into it for so long, they deserve a piece of the action.
          I think they also know that as screwed up financially as it already is, it could actually get worse.
          It’s a tough spot to be in for both the politicians and the public.

  • I think that what the American people are tired of is a poor economy. If it picks up in the short term, there would be a slight but noticeable swing in the President’s approval ratings (including for such items as his handling of the economy). A lot of people don’t want to understand the nuts and bolts of the economy because they believe that it’s over their heads. They just want to hear good economic news and they’ll be content.

    That’s what leads to economic bubbles and happy voters, and to burst bubbles and angry voters. I don’t think we’ll see an end to the government method of mismanaging the economy until the current system collapses under the weight of the bad accounting that has driven it for so long.

    • TonusI think that what the American people are tired of is a poor economy… They just want to hear good economic news and they’ll be content.

      Sadly, I have to agree. While there is a very vocal minority who are against health care takeover because they understand that it will utterly bust the budget and lead to a lousy government health care system like the British NHS, I think that most Americans who oppose the takeover do so mostly because the economy NOW is bad. If the economy was as good as it was during most of the Bush administration, health care takeover would sail through the Congress with hardly a whisper of opposition from anybody outside a handful of diehard fiscal conservatives. I suggest that we’ve all seen the same phenomenon in everyday life: when people have plenty of disposable income, they don’t balk at spending it – wasting it – on even the most absurd things. When money’s tight, however, they try to hang on to every cent like it’s their last.

      This is the catch-22 that confronts the democrats: for them to get elected, things have to be bad for the country. However, when things are bad for the country, there isn’t a lot of spare cash around to bankroll their outrageous schemes.

  • “Ted Kennedy did what he believed was right and good for America.”

    ***

    Sorry, I have to disagree. Teddy Kennedy did what he believed was right and good………for Ted Kennedy and his party.

    Any good it may have done for America was always a secondary concept. Just because he’s dead is no reason to allow flowery prose get in the way of the truth.

    At any rate, this is going to truly be the fight over his legacy- if this bloated monstrosity of a bill (just like he was a bloated monstrosity in real life) passes because “he would’ve wanted it” or not.

    I look forward to one final kick to the shins being delivered to Teddy’s legacy, which is most certainly not going to be “Dry, sober and home with his wife”

  • I honestly don’t think that Ted Kennedy believed in anything. He was a clot of sentiments amputated from their meaning. He was also a reckless impulse, drunk with money and infantile needs. If he had any ideas, and that’s questionable, they were staler than Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’s lobster bib. The Left built a chamber of rodeo clowns around him and he became one of their reliable greeters at the big casino in D.C.

    Without too much trouble, they convinced him to drink sloppily from the cup of his own family’s blood and let it drip down his chin so that everyone knew how terribly tragic he was. That was the source of his moral authority, how famously he let that blood drip down on himself. It was an atavistic ceremony out of a barbarian cult or some mystery religion, splashed down in the media a million times by squashed acolytes like the aforesaid Schlesinger and more recent practitioners like the Kennedy harem eunuch Chris Matthews.

    It’s not the end of an era, symbolically or otherwise. The Kennedy’s were wrung dry by the Left, that’s all. The cult has already moved on.

  • Yes, as my own blog today notes, this is the end of an era.

    But it’s a bipartisan end. The town hall meetings are attended by tiny minorities, and these issues will swift quickly, since the political winds shift. After all, Obama just got elected, along with Democratic majorities. A few late summer town hall meetings won’t alter the real demographic and political tendencies in the US. Before Kennedy died he got a glimpse of the liberal promised land with Obama’s election and the invigorated youth. He certainly died confident that the country was on the right path, and even to the end he helped put us there.

    Moreover, its also the end of US superpower dominance. The last decade has laid bare fundamental economic, political and military weaknesses that were hid by the veneer of the Cold War. It is literally a different world for both the Left and Right. And while each side can see clearly the problems the other side has, unless they recognize that it’s time for new thinking, the future will be very violent and difficult.

    This ranges from economics (the vast maldistribution of global wealth is untenable and will give rise to revolt and terrorism if not addressed), religion (people have created local/exclusivist religions where they define their faith as ‘correct’ and others ‘wrong’ — that leads to inevitable conflict if people can’t embrace an inclusivist religion — I believe X, but Y’s faith may be a different path), and politics (reject ideological battles in favor of pragmatic problem solving).

    • Only someone hermetically sealed in an academic institution could be that stupid, Scott.

      You’re not in touch with reality, let alone public opinion surveys.

    • “Liberal promised land?”

      It’s no fun if you parody yourself.

    • Moreover, its also the end of US superpower dominance

      ***

      You keep saying that.

      Who’s the new superpower that’s going to put us into mothballs?

      • We put ourselves in mothballs. There need not be a new superpower. I was warning about this economic collapse as far back as 2005 (or earlier, really), and noting that Iraq was a strategic error showing our weakness in terms of being able to use military power to create outcomes we want. I also was noting back in 2006 that Afghanistan was starting to be lost. How far and fast we slip can be managed, but the reality of our weakened condition is pretty much undeniable.

        • “We put ourselves in mothballs”

          How? By having a bad economy? So what? It’s not like the carriers or subs or planes are being put back into storage. Even with a bad economy, we’re not slowing down activities one bit.

          “There need not be a new superpower”

          FAIL. Of COURSE there needs to be a new superpower. Nature (and world politics) abhors a vaccum. If we vacate the top dog spot, who does it? who COULD do it? Until we get replaced, we’re still the Superpower.

          “I was warning about this economic collapse as far back as 2005 (or earlier, really), and noting that Iraq was a strategic error showing our weakness in terms of being able to use military power to create outcomes we want”

          Except we won. I know it doesn’t jibe with the alternate reality espoused on your blog…

          “I also was noting back in 2006 that Afghanistan was starting to be lost. How far and fast we slip can be managed, but the reality of our weakened condition is pretty much undeniable”

          What is this weakened condition sh*t except a product of your fantasies? Even “weakened” (whatever idiocy that means) we’re still in better shape than everyone else.

          Sod off, marxist.

          • Well, I could give you a lesson on international relations theory and why there doesn’t need to be another superpower to knock us off — but I suspect you aren’t serious anyway. As many of us predicted, Iraq and Afghanistan shows the relative impotence of our military power. We have lots of high tech stuff and nuclear weapons, but we’re not really able to control political and economic events. Moreover, the world is becoming more multi-polar, and most countries realize that an indebted, over extended America isn’t really all that powerful on the world stage. The Europeans don’t feel they need the US, China is building its own global power base, and Russia is balancing the various poles, and pre-disposed to work more closely with China. That’s why world wide and in the US there are conferences and publications about what America’s decline means for world politics. This is a fact, bluster talk can’t deny it.

            Iraq is falling apart again (nobody can claim we “won” the post-war reconstruction, it was an utter failure that damaged us immensely and is an integral part of the speed of our decline — though it did get Obama elected), and Afghanistan is in even worse shape. So much for the power of the US to shape world events. We proved our weakness. But hey, if tough talk and bluster allows you to close your eyes to reality, go for it. Some of us, however, deal with truth.

    • “and these issues will swift quickly, since the political winds shift.”

      Smartest thing you’ve ever written here professor.

    • Later:

      “Obama just got elected.”

      My reading on that is that people pretty much feel like that was a million years ago.

      Here in the upstate Lefty wonderland where I live I noted to Mrs. McP today the evaporation of the Obama bumper sticker, this in an area where the embarrassing John Kerry stickers lasted all the way through until the Obama stickers.

      In large part I think that it is due to Obama being camo’d by the usual suspects in the Democratic primary field and his own centrist rhetoric. People thought that they were getting an old-fashioned Democrat who would spout the usual platitudes that the nutjob base wanted to hear but then wind up in the center.

      Now their jaws are hanging and they are WTF’ing at the situation. They got themselves a stinker and they know it.

    • Yes, as my own blog today notes, this is the end of an era. I noted there that he will be missed. And the commenter who signed on as Mary Jo Kopechne and said “I certainly missed him for the ten minutes before I drowned” is a nasty rightie for not seeing the glory and brilliance that was Ted Kennedy, and you can bet I deleted that comment immediately.

      But it’s a bipartisan end. I decree it. Everybody loved Teddy. Well, except the Kopechnes, maybe. But politically, he’s the mainstream and you dense righties are the fringe. The town hall meetings are attended by tiny minorities, and these issues will swift quickly, since the political winds shift. As I’ve told you, your tea parties will avail you not, as the mighty forces of socialism take away the last remaining freedoms, so that you can live lives of quiet, secure fulfillment under the constant guidance of wise leftists like me.

      After all, Obama just got elected, along with Democratic majorities. A few late summer town hall meetings won’t alter the real demographic and political tendencies in the US. Nope, those representatives know better than to pay any attention to actual constituents. The real forces are in DC. That’s who will get us a glorious new healthcare system that is better and cheaper and will ensure that everyone has above average healthcare.

      Before Kennedy died he got a glimpse of the liberal promised land with Obama’s election. Yes, the glorious salvation of socialism is upon us, our relig.., sorry, philosophy, will overpower you crazed righties with your free market hardcore ideology. But I don’t believe in ideologies. No, we wise leftists are pragmatists, and the fact that we occasionally refer to our positions in religious terms is just symbolic. Really, symbolic, I say! Stop laughing!

      Kennedy saw the invigorated youth. He certainly died confident that the country was on the right path, and even to the end he helped put us there. And the facts that the programs he championed have done no measurable good and have vastly increased the deficit are completely beside the point, so you thick righties should just stop with that, out of respect for the sainted Ted Kennedy.

      Moreover, its also the end of US superpower dominance. Thank goodness. Now the US can lie prostrate before the world and begin decades of self-effacement in punishment for our imperialist sins. The last decade has laid bare fundamental economic, political and military weaknesses that were hid by the veneer of the Cold War. It is literally a different world for both the Left and Right. And while each side can see clearly the problems the other side has, unless they recognize that it’s time for new thinking, the future will be very violent and difficult. I have no idea what any of that means, but it certainly sounds thoughtful and impressive, don’t you think? I try so hard to cover up my leftist tendencies, and I think this was one of my better efforts, don’t you?

      This affects economics – the vast maldistribution of global wealth is untenable and will give rise to revolt. And the only solution is glorious socialism to redistribute the wealth, thus curing the maldistribution. Really, it will work this time! If you dense grunts on the right just bear down and keep producing instead of whining about we wise leftists taking away “the fruits of your labor” as if you deserved to keep anything when there are people in Zaire going hungry. Selfish and mean, that’s what you are.

      It affects religion. People have created local/exclusivist religions where they define their faith as ‘correct’ and others ‘wrong’. Imagine that! Can’t they see that the only absolute is the goodness of socialism? But that’s not a faith! Stop saying that! I’m not caught up in religious fervor over the glorious future of socialism, I’m just being a wise pragmatist. Stop laughing! These exclusivist religions lead to inevitable conflict if people can’t embrace an inclusivist religion. And the fact that the only major religion that fits such a description is Islam is completely beside the point, and I don’t know why you bring it up. It might hurt someone’s feelings! Don’t you dense righties know that?

    • Preach on, brother erb! Mcquain almost had me til i read your comment lol. I agree about religions they are old. So when we make the new official america religion do we start with an old one or just make it? Because the old religions say kennedy is prob in hell and that doesnt seem right. Thanks!

  • Well, I could give you a lesson on international relations theory and why there doesn’t need to be another superpower to knock us off — but I suspect you aren’t serious anyway

    ***

    Erb, you couldn’t give me a lesson in anything. EVER. Don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m one of your captive braniwashing victims in your class.

    You say we’re not all that powerful on the world stage, and with that statement you beclown yourself. A quick check of the visuals shows otherwise.

    But hey,keep repeating it often enough and maybe it will happen. After all, Tinkerbell got better when the audience clapped real hard.

    • These would be the spiritual descendents of the “experts” who assured us WWI was the “war to end all wars”. And the League of Nations would “outlaw war”. That giving Hitler everything he asked for would keep him tame and manageable.

      And the ones who told us to just come to an accommodation with the Soviet Union because they would be around forever. Some even told us the USSR would surpass us economically by the 1990s.

      And, of course, how Sadr really won over Maliki.

      But of course, we proles are not supposed to question the analysis of these experts. After all, they’re experts!

    • Nice to know your ignorance is willful. You believe what you want to believe and ridicule anyone who tries to help you understand your errors. Oh well, you inspire me to do my job well with those who want to try to understand reality.

      • “Oh well, you inspire me to do my job well with those who want to try to understand reality.”

        Lying to your students when they get too close to reality is actually in your job description? I guess that’s a step above doing it just because of your personal preferences.

  • “economics (the vast maldistribution of global wealth is untenable and will give rise to revolt and terrorism if not addressed)”

    “I was warning about this economic collapse as far back as 2005 (or earlier, really)”

    There has been maldistribution of global wealth literally since the beginning of civilization, and neighboring groups certainly found out about it after the invetion of the wheel. Even if you warned about this waaay back in 2001, you were still 5,000 years behind.

    “He certainly died confident that the country was on the right path,and even to the end he helped put us there.
    Moreover, its also the end of US superpower dominance.”
    Evidence of the monkey/Shakespeare theory. Some slight rearrangement of the phrases….

    “He certainly died confident that the country was on the right path- the end of US superpower dominance- and even to the end he helped put us there.

    And voila, you have a coherent, defensible position that can be supported by facts.

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