Monday, April 27, 2009

Winners, Losers -- And Power

The Rubble On The Right

The Obama juggernaut has done more damage to the country in a month than LBJ could do in five years, and Republicans seem powerless to stop it. They can’t even harness serious grass-roots opposition to the trillions of dollars that have flowed out of Washington since October. This is nothing new. The GOP has been losing credibility ever since it started backing George Bush’s “big government conservatism” years ago. Bush’s spending spree, coupled with the Iraq War, rivaled LBJ’s “guns and butter” policies during the Viet Nam War for profligacy. By last fall, when Bush bailed out the banks and bankers who (along with their political supporters) had gotten us into this mess, the Republican brand was virtually worthless.

For a while, GOP party regulars avoided that unhappy subject, but the tide is turning. One sign of candor comes from Newt Gingrich, who recently launched a salvo at “the Bush-Obama big government, big bureaucracy, politician-empowering, high-tax, high-inflation and high-interest-rate system.” Clearly, Gingrich recognizes that he risks alienating some pro-Bush stalwarts in the GOP, but two factors are on his side: first, Obama is going to keep on blaming Bush, so Gingrich may as well try lumping them together. After all, rhetoric aside, their approaches to the economic “rescue” do have a lot in common, and Newt wants to appear as the independent voice of reason. Second, in spite of the best efforts of Democratic spinmeisters, Newt knows that any alienation will fade as 2010 approaches and new faces come onto the scene (along with his old one, of course).

Gingrich is astute. As early as 2005, he privately acknowledged that 2008 would be a very tough presidential year. He told friends then that he was looking instead at a run in 2012 – seven years away. Candidate Gingrich would sound the “don’t blame me” mantra, since he had left congress long before Bush and congressional Republicans doubled the national debt by 2008. But he will have some serious explaining to do. For example, while he now insists that we turn our attention homeward from Iraq, he was once an ardent supporter of expanding the American war into Syria and Iran, in an effort to revolutionize the entire Middle East. Moreover, while his criticism of big government is appealing, he will have trouble attracting pro-family types. For one thing, every time he stages a political comeback, he seems to have a new wife. But he’s not ignoring the religious right: he just sent me an autographed copy of his “Discovering God In America.”

Sure, Newt’s trying to cover all the bases. But his frontal attack on Bush’s contributions to big government certainly confirm the widespread desperation in the GOP as it seeks new leaders and what’s left of its principles. Frankly, I wonder if any of the “old guard” Republicans can lead the GOP out of the desert where it now wanders. Only time will tell.

There Must Be Something In The Water

A Boston Globe series, oozing oceans of sympathy for the ailing senior senator from Massachusetts, sports a revealing headline: “Ted Kennedy had to weather the death of Mary Jo Kopechne,” it moans, and he thus lost an easy shot at the presidency.

Poor Teddy. All that bad weather. Tears all around, I’m sure. How thoughtless, really, of dying Mary Jo to ruin the career of a Kennedy. Imagine how much better off we’d all be if that senseless girl just hadn’t climbed into the back seat of Teddy’s car! Why, we could be enjoying five-cent Havanas, ten-cent gas, and years of peace and prosperity orchestrated by generations of benevolent Kennedys.

Instead, we’ve just had forty years of Ted’s bearing the baleful burden of bad weather, all because of that selfish Mary Jo.

So has the rest of the country, thanks in large part to liberals like John Kerry, the junior senator from Massachusetts, for whom last week was not his finest hour. The man who has serially wed increasingly wealthy women has harsh words for those who have earned their own money and want to spend it themselves:

"I've supported many tax cuts over the years, and there are tax cuts in this proposal,” Senator Kerrey reportedly said on the senate floor. “But a tax cut is non-targeted. If you put a tax cut into the hands of a business or family, there's no guarantee that they're going to invest that or invest it in America. They're free to go invest anywhere that they want if they choose to invest."

Apparently our families can be “guaranteed” that our money is being spent wisely only if we let Senator Kerry spend it for us. I can imagine him proposing to his wealthy wives…. “Let me show you how to spend your money wisely, my dear.” His approach does go a long way to explain why Massachusetts, with some of the highest taxes in the country, has one of the lowest per-capita charitable contribution rates of any state in the union.

Useful Idiots

Evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson recently observed that Obama "has the makings of a great president." When Rush Limbaugh said “I hope he fails,” Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News asked Robertson to comment.
“That was a terrible thing to say,” replied Robertson. “I mean, he's the president of all the country. If he succeeds, the country succeeds. And if he doesn't, it hurts us all. Anybody who would pull against our president is not exactly thinking rationally.”
Well, to paraphrase Bill Clinton, it depends on what your meaning of “succeed” is.
Long ago, Soviet overtures of “peaceful coexistence” appealed to many Americans in the midst of a tense Cold War. It even took some time for our own State Department to realize what that concept meant to the USSR: “be so kind as not to interfere while we continue our conquests.” The sense of urgency created around the passage of the recent “stimulus” bill invites similar scrutiny. The bill was not an emergency measure written to solve the immediate financial crisis; it was a catch-all for every crackpot initiative ever conceived by left-wing senate offices and liberal lobbying firms, unions, and the rest of the tax-consumer peanut gallery, outrageous bills that would never have passed on their own merits. All over Capitol Hill, staffers rifled through old filing cabinets, looking for last year’s losers, because this year they could be winners. The “stimulus” was Christmas in February for special interests everywhere.

Health-care rationing is there, even though Hillary’s plan could not get a single vote in 1994; gun control is there, even though it could never pass on its own, no matter what party runs the congress. There is even four billion dollars for community agitators who have pledged “civil disobedience” on behalf of the poor. It is part Juan and Evita Peron, who ruined Argentina but were loved by “the poor,” and part Salvador Allende, whose shock troops (call them “community organizers”) I watched in 1973, marching through Santiago’s streets, menacing the citizenry and threatening violence to any critics.

Gerhart Niemeyer, America’s foremost scholar on Marxism-Leninism, wrote that “what Lenin demanded was that Communists use bourgeois institutions without keeping faith with them, that they participate solely with the intent of destruction, and that they obtain the institutions’ power but deny their order.”

Obama has used the congress, our most revered constitutional institution, to seize and maintain more power. He will not give it up lightly.

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