I wondered, when Barack Obama was re-elected, how bad you had to be to be fired. Apparently worse than Obama, if that’s possible.
Now, with the confirmation of Chuck Hagel – another politician who has never run a large or complex organization and who was abysmal in his confirmation hearings – I have to wonder how bad you have to be NOT to be hired.
Apparently, worse than Chuck Hagel, if that’s possible:
Republicans siding with Democrats, the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Chuck Hagel as President Obama’s secretary of defense, a nomination that drew strong opposition within the Republican former senator’s own party, with some troubled by past statements on Israel and Iran.
GOP Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Mike Johanns, (Nebr.) and Richard Shelby (Ala.) supported Hagel in the 58-41 vote. No Democrats opposed him.
Again, let down by the GOP (the ‘good old boy club’ just couldn’t say no to a former member).
Anyone seeing a pattern here?
Seen today on an MSN newsfeed:
What does it say? It says the GOP is more screwed than we ever understood.
The “old ladies” are still predominant and now are fighting among themselves and attacking the Tea Party, which should, if you believe GOP propaganda, be a natural ally.
As long as that condition prevails, the GOP will remain a minority party in national politics. And yes, I know, there are some new faces attempting to emerge. But between the left, the media and the old ladies, their chances of emerging anytime soon without having their character assassinated are likely slim and none.
What will the Republican Party look like when it retakes the lead in governing? I’d bet it will be a coalition that identifies more with what Alex Castellanos is laying out at NewRepublican.org.
Some of it is new messaging for old ideas. Castellanos rebrands spontaneous order and subsidiarity as “open,” “natural,” “organic,” and “bottom-up.” He tags statism, command economies and federal control as “closed,” “artificial,” and “top-down.” Those are elegant ways to tell Whole Foods shoppers and Silicon Valley what we’re about without assigning them F.A. Hayek or a history of the Soviets.
Castellanos also stresses the superiority of private compassion over state welfare, but instead of getting trapped by placing charity in a bidding war with the welfare state, or quibbling over the definition of charity, he casts the state welfare agencies as “machine-like” or “factory-like” and “archaic,” and more importantly labeling them as “social mercenaries” that allow Americans to “distance ourselves from our responsibilities as human beings,” which involve “person-to-person” compassion.
That leads into a much more substantive change: redirecting social conservative energy to where it can actually accomplish something for itself and for the party, namely local and fulfilling private action instead of trying to seize the top and push down, which outsources to politicians and bureaucrats the promotion of our values.
Several items on the list of 67 beliefs of New Republicans (67!) deal with this:
4. We believe in freedom nationally and values locally.
6. We believe that when we allow big-government to enforce our values, we legitimize it to enforce other values, as well.
7. We believe in natural and organic ways of addressing social challenges, not political and artificial controls directed by Washington.
12. We believe Washington should stay out of our wallets, and out of our bedrooms.
39. We believe we are Republican for Everybody, and Republicans Everywhere. We believe our principles are an indispensable force for good, needed now to alleviate poverty, misery, dependency, and family breakdown destroying American lives in our inner cities.
Social conservatives lost the battle to use federal levers to enforce family and religious values, and damaged the good reputation of those values in the attempt, but those beliefs are still popular in many states, towns, and households. They can still gather a majority coalition with libertarians and moderates to carve out the space to practice their values and their faith without interference from the state, with more confidence and optimism than Paul Weyrich had in the late ’90s; if they revert to using top-down power, those potential allies will be embarrassed of their association with social conservatives. That’s coalition politics.
The New Republicans will avoid being associated with Big Everything, including Big Business. What saps the Republican Party’s entrepreneurial spirit and daring to cut government and promote free markets is its reliance on forces that want the state to protect them against change and competition; Milton Friedman repeatedly observed that this makes business community a frequent enemy of free enterprise. But the GOP need not be anti-business, just suspicious to the extent of keeping anything Big at arm’s length.
Finally, Castellanos does stress a couple of times that New Republicans believe in “campaign[ing] for our solutions in the most benighted parts of America, from the barrio to the inner city.” I’ve heard noises to that effect from Republicans for years, but that will only succeed if it’s a major, sustained effort; if we have nothing to say about urban problems beyond school choice, and we don’t learn how to assertively persuade people that we are absolutely superior at addressing poverty, we’re cooked. These things require practice, trials and errors, and personal experience with the poor and with urban life. We have to be able to win at least sometimes, electing mayors and city councils in major metro areas, to show that our way of governing works for the growing portion of the country living in cities.
I said at the beginning that this is how Republicans will think when they regain the lead in governing, and I chose those words instead of “winning elections” because it’s possible the GOP can temporarily get over 50% here and there by other means, but it won’t have the initiative until it accepts the challenge to persuade all of America that its principles are relevant to them. The party could and should also make gains by modernizing the way it learns and reorganizes itself, how it encourages and channels activism, its campaign tactics and strategy, and more. But those things go naturally with a mindset that’s reflexively entrepreneurial and not only open to change but so hungry for it that we’re unafraid to stop doing what isn’t working.
If we had just bought what the establishment GOP was selling, they would have thrown in undercoating for free
I don’t visit The Corner at National Review as often as I used to. Their pop-behind ads annoy me too much. But with good stuff from Jonah Goldberg, Mark Steyn, Andrew McCarthy, and a few others of that ilk, I still go by from time to time, despite the ads.
Almost as annoying as the ads are the Gentry GOP types who are constantly providing cover for establishment Republicans. Ramesh Ponnuru leads that crew. Ponnuru had a post yesterday, with a follow-on today, that both serve as a fine illustrations.
Both are about the intricate strategerizing (as another establishment Republican might put it) around the so-called fiscal cliff. I tried to understand what he was getting at. I really did. But it all just came out as complicated blather to promote some kind of go-along-get-along viewpoint. I never did understand his argument. I’m pretty sure that he wants the Republicans who blocked the last deal to get with the program and support the establishment cohort led by Boehner, but even after reading his posts through twice I still don’t get *why*.
He ends the first piece with this paragraph:
That some Republicans are willing to see higher taxes for the sake of anti-tax purity is topsy-turvy enough. Adding to the vertigo: The Republicans (inside and outside the House) who fret about blurring the party’s definition are the ones who are doing most to blur it. They are the ones who are, in most cases, accusing Republican leaders of seeking to raise taxes when they are actually trying to cut taxes as much as they think possible—cut them, that is, from the levels the law already has in place for 2013. They’re the ones who are accusing most House Republicans of “caving” to the Democrats, even as some of them prefer that the Democrats get their way entirely. That’s where the convoluted politics of this moment have led us.
This word salad sounds like an old Dilbert cartoon to me. In it, Dilbert is asked to sign a document stating "Employee election to not rescind the opposite action of declining the reverse inclination to not discontinue employment with the company."
The Gentry GOP’s equivalent seems to be "Voting for the bill to raise taxes in order to not raise taxes while electing to stand firm on not doing anything on spending while ensuring the previous action of claiming to reduce spending." Or something like that. I’m not really sure.
On stuff like this, I am a firm believer in the Asimov principle. In an introduction to one of his books, he said (approximately) "When I read something I don’t understand, I don’t assume I’m stupid." There are plenty of reasons for something to be incomprehensible that don’t have anything to do with me:
- The author might not know what he’s talking about
- The author might be a very bad communicator, and so just can’t explain himself very well
- As in the Dilbert example, the author might be trying to obfuscate the issue
For the entire discussion over the fiscal cliff, from Democrats, the media, or establishment Republicans, I’m going with the last explanation. It’s pretty clear at this point that the whole thing simply does not matter that much in the long term. No proposal being taken seriously will do anything to alter our long term trajectory. So the entire episode is just for political maneuvering.
That’s the part Ponnuru doesn’t seem to get, or at least he doesn’t assign any real weight to it. He doesn’t understand why twenty or so Republicans just won’t go along with the gag.
I get it completely. They have the intuition that they are being gamed.
Analyzing the details doesn’t help, because those details are intentionally confusing, and leave entirely too much room for statists to make things come out the way they want later.
If you’ve ever been subjected to the car salesmen who insists that this wonderful deal he’s offering you won’t be good tomorrow, you know the dynamic here. Those in the GOP who won’t go along with the game sense that the ruling class is using the same technique, with the fiscal cliff deadline as the nominal justification.
In general, I’m sick of any argument by an establishment GOP type that it’s necessary to do X to avoid being blamed for Y. Much of this fiscal cliff discussion seems to be in that vein. I’m sick of it because it pre-supposes that there is a path where the GOP won’t be blamed for the bad things that happen. That’s ridiculous.
Because we’re served by the worst political class ever:
President Obama’slead negotiator in the “fiscal cliff” talks said the administration is “absolutely” willing to allow the package of deep automatic spending cuts and across-the-board tax hikes to take effect Jan. 1, unless Republicans drop their opposition to higher income tax rates on the wealthy.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in an interview with CNBC that both sides are “making a little bit of progress” toward a deal to avert the “cliff” but remain stuck on Obama’s desired rate increase for the top U.S. income-earners.
“There’s no prospect for an agreement that doesn’t involve those rates going up on the top two percent of the wealthiest,” Geithner said.
Apparently there is no way to raise the desired revenue, at least according to Obama/Geithner, that “doesn’t involve those rates going up on the top 2%”. No way.
Oh, wait …
What we said was give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking taxes — tax rates, but could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions and engaging in a tax reform process that could have lowered rates generally while broadening the base.
Say, wasn’t that President Obama in July of 2011 at a press conference? Why yes it was. So there is a way, but he and apparently his “negotiator” refuse to pursue it (btw, no I”m not fooled by the illusion that this isn’t just as much a tax hike as what they’re proposing)? It that what is happening?
Why yes, yes it is. So there is another way to do this, apparently. Unless our President was telling a tall one about what he’d be willing to do in July? Yeah, I know, perish the thought. Lie to us? Unthinkable.
Instead according to Turbo Tax Timmy, they’d “absolutely” take us over the cliff, because, you know, raising taxes on the “rich” is now the only acceptable position. You and your life? You’re a mere pawn for these poppinjays. They’re fine with playing with your life and livelihood to score a political win. They have no problem holding your life and property ransom and using your future to force their desired resolution. But if we go over the cliff, screw you.
Meanwhile, in the House, Speaker Boehner continues to look for a comfortable place to lie down and surrender.
In the Senate the GOP actually tried to bring the President’s proposal to a vote and Majority Leader Reid denied it. Because it was, per Reid, a “stunt”.
This is all a “stunt”. A miserable stunt perpetrated by a miserable group of people who have no concept of leadership or service to their country but are long on ego and party.
It is the price of always voting for the “lesser of two evils”.
Here is a good example of what is wrong with politics today – this time from the right:
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) on Saturday defended his decision to break with conservative activist Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, telling constituents he would not be “dictated to by anybody in Washington.”
“I think that you sent me to Washington to think for myself. And I want to vote the way you want me to vote,” Chambliss said to a group of local constituents at a Cobb County Republican party event, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I don’t want to be dictated to by anybody in Washington, as to how I’m going to vote on anything.”
You see, Chambliss doesn’t seem to get the basic point: he made a pledge. HE made a pledge. Not someone else – him. He didn’t have his arm twisted behind his back when he made the pledge. He did so voluntarily. The dirty little secret, however, is he didn’t make the pledge out of principle, he made the pledge because it was politically helpful and expedient to do so at the time.
Now he wants to back out of his pledge. It is no longer expedient or helpful politically. He, like our President, is trying to blame the predicament he finds himself in – i.e. breaking a voluntary pledge – on someone else. It’s their fault he’s in this predicament. And by gosh he won’t “be dictated to by anybody”.
Well he hasn’t been dictated to by anyone. Again, he voluntarily took a pledge back when it was politically helpful and popular to do so. Now he wants to bail on it. I don’t know about you, but when I pledge something, I give my unbreakable word I’ll do what I pledge to do. I don’t enter into them lightly. And I do everything in my power to live up to the pledge.
It’s about honor.
But apparently that’s a concept that is passe in today’s political world.
Go ahead Mr. Chambliss. Break your pledge. But remember what happened when a certain president bailed on his no new taxes pledge?
I can only hope I’ll be part of the lesson teaching when your time for re-election comes. Then, by Georgia, you’ll be “dictated too” by the people of this state. And you’ll be looking for new work.
When is the GOP (and the public) going to learn?
How many times have we heard that the only thing standing in the way of a grand bargain to reduce our growing national debt is Republican intransigence on taxes? If Republicans would only agree to dump Grover Norquist, Democrats will agree to cut spending and reform entitlements. Then, we can all join hands and sing Kumbaya as we usher in a new era of compromise and fiscal responsibility.
Except that now that Republicans have agreed to raise taxes, er, revenue, as part of an agreement to avoid the looming fiscal cliff, liberals appear to have decided that there really isn’t a need to cut spending after all.
Yup, in fact they’ve taken entitlement reform “off the table”.
Senate Democratic leaders signaled Tuesday they would not agree to any entitlement reforms before the end of the year that cut spending on Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
They also said that any year-end deal to avoid the expiration of tax cuts and implementation of spending cuts — known as the fiscal cliff — must include a provision to raise the debt ceiling, which would otherwise have to be addressed early next year.
The White House and Reid have indicated they will not consider cuts to Social Security, a notable change from 2011, when President Obama said “everything is on the table,” including entitlement programs dear to his party’s base.
In other words, we’re back to “tax the rich”, raise the debt ceiling and spend, spend spend. Meanwhile, it is left up to the GOP to “compromise” by breaking the tax pledge (led by the Judas goats, Saxby Chambliss and Lindsey Graham) or be forever branded as the intransigent “bad guys” in this.
Meanwhile, low information Americans who, by over 60% approve of taxing the rich, will buy the spin by the press painting the GOP as the cause/reason for the calamity while Democrats “lament” the problem (“but, hey, that’s now the law thanks to Republicans”) and gleefully rub their hands in delight at all the new revenue they’ll have to “redistribute”.
Some things never change, do they?
Rob Port throws up a couple of graphs that show that, as most of us have been saying for quite some time, it’s not a revenue issue causing the Federal Government’s deficit problem – it’s a spending issue.
Per Port, since 2009, tax revenues are up 19%.
So how does one get the message across to government that it must live within it’s means if it gets a tax increase without spending cuts?
You don’t. You just encourage it to push for more. Already “millionaires” are defined as those making $250,000 a year.
But let’s make excuses for the GOP’s capitulation, shall we (the hapless GOP, which will get blamed if we go over the fiscal cliff or if we avoid it and everything crashes anyway)?
Apparently the new conventional wisdom, “spend till your wallet bleeds and then break out the credit cards” has repealed the laws of economics once again. Ask Paul Krugman if you don’t believe it.
Apparently when you pledge your word and you’re a politician, that pledge (and your word) has a shelf-life:
The decades-old pledge from the Americans for Tax Reform group has been signed by 238 House members and 41 senators in this Congress and has essentially become inescapable for any Republican seeking statewide or national office over recent election cycles, especially in the Republican-controlled lower chamber.
New York Rep. Peter King and Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday they would break the pledge and accept tax changes to generate more revenue to curb the trillion-dollar federal deficit.
Their statements followed a similar one Thursday by Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
“I agree entirely with Saxby Chambliss,” King said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress. … The world has changed, and the economic situation is different.”
That’s what you get for electing moral cowards (aka, “politicians”) to office.
Forget about it. It is your fault they spend more than they have so pay up and shut up. After all, voters don’t seem to hold them accountable for any of this so why should they worry or take responsiblity?
The great cave-in begins.
The good news? We won’t have to hear any moralizing by the GOP about “principles” … or at least we won’t have to take it seriously.
Charlie Cook, who is very astute politically, made this observation about the election that I think is pretty spot on, and it reinforces what we’ve been talking about here for the last few days:
Watching politics for 40 years now, I have seen the two major parties tend to leapfrog each other in terms of political sophistication. This state of the political art, when one party is firing on all eight (or, these days, six or even four) cylinders, seems to happen when the other party is in desperate need of a tune-up.
Democrats had a lousy economy, made some rather dubious policy choices in the past four years, and had an incumbent who chose to skip the first debate. But when it came to just about everything else, they handled things expertly, or developments went their way. Republicans had a bright candidate, but one who lacked the dexterity to handle a very challenging set of circumstances, and a party that was well out of touch with the demographic, generational, and ideological changes quietly transforming the electorate.
The emphasized lines make the bottom line point, in my opinion. “Tune it up” or continue to push the same tired line to an electorate that is transforming and you’ll see similar results the next time too. Deny it all you wish, “them’s the facts”.
What was it that Einstein said we should call trying the same thing over and over again while expecting different results?