Friday, March 06, 2009


Michael Gerson opens a column with these astonishing observations:
American conservatism - intellectually ascendant during three decades in which relatively low taxes and a stable money supply produced the greatest accumulation of national wealth in history - is now staring into an abyss.
It's amazing what happens when you generate a lot of "wealth on paper", isn't it - how quickly that "accumulation of national wealth" can go up in smoke. Might that have something to do with the abyss?
It has been voted to the edge of political irrelevance....
Including by many people who consider themselves to be conservatives, but were appalled by the Bush Administration's spendthrift ways, contempt for the Constitution, contempt for the people of this country... a contemptuousness Gerson backed, from start to finish.
... assaulted by a European-style budget ...
What's a "European-style budget"? One that introduces a massive new health insurance program? Let's call it... a Medicare prescription drug benefit? One that usurps control over matters historically considered to be state issues - particularly by federalists and conservatives - such as education? One that massively subsidizes profitable companies such as energy companies, or bails out faltering industries such as the nation's airlines? One that vastly increases spending without regard to how much money is being raised in taxes? Let's call it... every single Bush budget? Pray tell....
...and overshadowed by a new president of colossal skills and unexpected ambition
Unexpected ambition? Unexpected? Maybe Gerson suffers some cognitive distortion from having served G.W. Bush, a guy who seems to view everything in life as an entitlement, but it seems to me that anybody with even a tiny brain in his head would look at Obama and see tremendous ambition. If you randomly picked only half of the accomplishments listed on Obama's résumé, it would still scream of ambition.

Gerson explains the economy,
When monetary policy is responsible and federal spending restraint is credible, a continental economy can roll through many obstacles, including a moderate rise in tax rates.
Right. But as Gerson notes, that's Clinton's legacy, not the gift we received from his incompetent, profligate ex-boss.

Gerson sees three possible "conservative futures". In the first, conservatives turn out to be "hyperventilating as they did in 1993", and everything comes up roses. Perhaps he thinks that's a good future for conservatives, as his boss nonetheless won the 2000 election, then perpetuated and expanded upon the problems that ultimately led to the financial industry crisis.

The second, Gerson calls "vindication". Obama fixes the banking system, but the resultant debt causes the economy to struggle. Hm. I wonder what would have happened had his ex-boss not engaged in wild deficit spending, and had instead perpetuated Clinton's budget surpluses? Would we still be in the potential position for which Gerson years, where Obama's administration is left "beg[ging] China, Japan and others to buy American bonds", perhaps followed by stagflation? Some vindication.

The third, and apparently only the third, is the future "conservatives do not want to consider". The first two may be bad for America, but it seems all that matters to Gerson is that they're good for the Republican Party. That third? Obama has the success of FDR, pulls us through a financial crisis, and reinvents government in a way supported by most Americans.

The horror.

Gerson concludes,
Obama is not likely to be a Roosevelt. But conservatives remain in a difficult position. Since they favor economic success, they must root for Obama to be a Clinton - even as they suspect and predict he will be a Carter.
That's something of a stretch of Gerson's internal consistency, given that he just got through telling us that Obama's being "a Carter" would somehow vindicate conservatism. Is this the hapless form he desires for his professed ideology - where conservative "thinkers" demonstrate their confidence in their political and economic theories by turning away from the outcome that those theories supposedly predict, the outcome that vindicates them, in favor of a namby-pamby "Gawrsh, I hope I'm wrong"?

Gerson had his "wet dream" government for at east four of the past eight years, and his "wet dream" President for the past eight. Why are we still waiting for his political and economic theories to be vindicated? In fact, could it not be said that the product of Bush's policies merits an unambiguous "FAIL!"

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