Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Republican paternity suit

Sackcloth and ashes

David Seaton's News Links
(Before going any farther, at the bottom of this post, I've put down a short manifesto of what my objectives are, because the paths I take in following them may seem a bit tortuous to my readers.)

One of my favorite bloggers, James Wolcott, over at Vanity Fair, has written a good piece about a lament-filled article by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal, yesterday I riffed on it, today I'd like to riff a little bit more.

I think that, through an understandable lack of empathy for Republicans, Mr. Wolcott perhaps missed the significance of the most important phrase in Ms. Noonan's ashes and sackcloth aria. This was the phrase:
Mr. Bush has squandered the hard-built paternity of 40 years.
What Ms. Noonan -- with a broken heart -- is saying is that the Republican Party of Goldwater and Reagan (Ms Noonan's life's work) has been destroyed by feckless Bushism. That John McCain might very well win the presidency is no consolation to Peggy Noonan, because to win it, he will have to drive a stake through Barry Goldwater's and Ronald Reagan's hearts.

This is an election that McCain can win but which Noonan's Republican Party cannot. Dick Morris, former adviser to Bill Clinton and political analyst for Fox News sums the situation up brilliantly in the Washington Post:
A candidate who cannot get elected is being nominated by a party that cannot be defeated, while a candidate who is eminently electable is running as the nominee of a party doomed to defeat.
Morris then goes on to plausibly map out McCain's possible path to victory in November. It isn't pretty, but it sure isn't Reagan redux. here are some points:
McCain needs to go after the swing voters:

Lash out at the corporate greed that landed us in the subprime mortgage crisis. Attack the golden-parachute pensions, the ill-gotten commissions and the maddening lending fees.

Go after credit card companies' interest rates, late fees and consumer gouging.

Demand action on global warming (as McCain began doing last week, including hawking "eco-friendly" campaign T-shirts).

Call for a ban on all congressional earmarks, with their inevitable waste and pork, and insist that Congress appoint a permanent ethics special prosecutor to police itself.

Attack big tobacco, and blast the movie industry for helping sell its poison.

Pledge to make hedge-fund managers pay full earned-income taxes on their incomes, rather than the undeserved capital-gains treatment they currently get.(...)

McCain need not depart from long-held principles to wage any of these battles. He has always embraced these causes as a senator, and he needs to do so ever more forcefully as a candidate for president. The danger for McCain is that he will forget that he has already won the Republican nomination and retreat to safe GOP positions, which will alienate precisely the Democrats and independents whom he is uniquely positioned to attract.
I would add that only other Republican that could sell this convincingly with McCain is the populist, Mike Huckabee.

It is easy to see why Ms. Noonan, like Job, is sitting in the ashes scraping her sores with a pottery shard, but where I differ from James Wolcott is to think that Peggy Noonan's discomfort holds any comfort for Barack Obama or the Democrats this year. DS

Full disclosure (a declaration of principals)
I want to make it clear, where I am coming from so that what I say from now on can be correctly interpreted.

What I would like for the USA is first: a federal, universal, obligatory, public health system that would be so good that the private system would be reduced to preforming silicon breast implants on precocious 12 year old Valley girls. This would mean that a little black girl in Tupelo Mississippi would have the same medical care as a rich little white boy in Lake Forest Illinois.

Next I would like a free, federal, universal, public education system, from cradle through post graduate, that would be so good that only people belonging to strange sects, would think it worth the money to send their kids to a private school. Like the French Lycée system: the same all over the country, same courses, same exams, same standards for all students, so that the little black girl in Tupelo Mississippi would get exactly the same, quality education, as the rich little white boy in Lake Forest Illinois. All of this with a free public university system, so good that Harvard, Yale and Princeton would be reduced to diploma mills for rich kids that didn't want to study hard.

And a good pension system, of course. This what I consider the minimum a "progressive" should demand from the state.

You might have a few questions.

Does this mean big government?

You bet. It would mean a huge, unionized, bureaucracy.

Wouldn't that be very expensive?

Horribly expensive.

How would you pay for it?

To start with I would reduce US military spending to make it only more powerful than the combination of China and Russia and not more powerful than the next 19 countries on the list all together. I would be grateful to see the numbers, but I imagine that setting up my version of America would cost a lot less than the war in Iraq.

Now it is easy to understand that from my viewpoint the Democratic Party of the USA is the greatest bunch of wankers since Tommy Chong's
definitive, "Harry Palms". I am not sure that the Democrats are a path to the kind of America I would like, in fact they might be the greatest obstacle standing in the way. So while generally feeling more comfortable traveling in the company of Democrats, I am not rooting for them.

Having read and understood this, you may understand why I am often crueler to Democrats than to Republicans. With them, what you see is what you get, while with the Democrats we may be looking at nothing more than a Judas goat to neutralize the appearance of any social movement in America that might bring about social justice.

I think that all of this is something that the politicians really cannot be expected to do. The civil rights movement came from the African-American community's political agitation, the politicians bowed to that pressure. I think it will require mass movements, even a classic general strike to get my agenda taken care of. Barack Obama is not going to do any of this... people are fooling themselves if they think he ever will.


RC said...

Thanks for the manifesto. One of my kids is French {dual citizenship with the US} and even though upper middle class, she enjoyed most of those benefits you describe over the last 30 years, for free, yes, free, or very close to it. She has the Sorbonne education and is in another ecology graduate program now at Sabatier in Toulouse. I don't expect Obama, McCain or Clinton {not even George Clinton} to deliver your wishlist.
Having been to the US only a few times since 1987, I found the citizenry to be remarkably complacent, my last visit was in July of 2006. Maybe the economic pain {my other kids in the US report back to me} that is ripping through the country right now will have some effect on the mobilization front. I'm removed from all of that by 1500 miles, and even though I as an anarchist won't sign up, in PR we do have nationalized medicine since 1995, however, it is a fact that "La Tarjeta" as it is called, did bankrupt Borinquen. Whatever it is we are going through here right now on the island, when that hits the US it better wake someone up, or they are just zombies. They won't have nationalized medicine to ease the pain either. Just repossessions.
Morris' Twainlike comment about the two Party contest and the dynamics is one that deserves wider dispersion, but I get the feeling it will vanish right away.
As to your proposing big government, we already have that without the benefits. Shrinking the military, as you suggest {trimming the fat, to be precise} is one thing we have to do. But it is possible to administer these health systems in a very efficient way especially using cybernetic advances, and we are already paying massive amounts for the education system at all levels either through local taxes or Federal subsidy and we are not getting any value.
The Australian Distance Learning concepts and other personnel reduction and Real Estate reduction economies should be made. Translation: move education on line.
These problems are solvable given the will. I know you think that way too.
But like you, and I give you credit for baptizing the concept, perhaps a little Leninization may have to be applied before the reactionary mobilization phase can take off. I think that is why you believe McCain should be in the Oval Office in 2009. He likes that free medical, he has it. I think he got the free education too.

zo said...

Barack is going to do something ... he is going to increase our standing in the eyes of the rest of the world not only by virtue of the fact that he is articulate, charismatic and Black ... but because the old bullshitting bellicosity is so over. As a paradigm, it stinks, as a practice, it more than stinks.

I like much of your thought, precisely because it is thought. But you mustn't fail to see past what Noonan called the Dems' busy-being-born phenomena, into the substance of what Obama has to offer. (Forget that annoying Clinton woman.) Such a simple idea: talk, not war.

Interesting times ahead.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Thanks for the compliment.
My problem with Barack Obama is that my intuition tells me he is an empty suit. He is as proud, clever and as opportunistic as Lucifer, but I don't think there is really that much human content there. Sorry, but I just can't get by my feeling on this.

You say:
"he is going to increase our standing in the eyes of the rest of the world not only by virtue of the fact that he is articulate, charismatic and Black ... but because the old bullshitting bellicosity is so over."

Well the effect of his being articulate, charismatic and Black will not last very long if he doesn't face down AIPAC and the Israeli government in his first year in office. I don't think he will ever dare do that and as for the old bullshitting bellicosity, I agree with you that it more than stinks, but Karma is Karma... what is left of America's prosperity, the dollar and influence has come to depend on America's military presence all over the world. This is one of America's greatest tragedies.

Nobody is waiting for moral lessons from America. Things have practically unraveled already; they were unraveling before Bush, but he has accelerated the process by about twenty years. Without military credibility and endless shopping, the USA is going to see its "way of life" implode.

The secret is that America was almost as badly damaged by the cold war as the Soviet Union. Is Barack Obama to be the American Gorbachev?
Think very carefully before you answer that... remember that after Gorbachev comes Yeltsin and Putin.

jackyt said...

I think the reason the (seemingly) entire Old Boy System has lined up behind Barack Obama is that Clinton is recognized as a champion of some of the causes you mention.

Hillary Clinton is widely (and wildly) castigated for FAILING to get UHC passed in 1994. She gets no credit for having tried. Her present plan, the more comprehensive of the two on offer, is dismissed as not substantially better than Obama's.

The campaign against her candidacy, both by Obama and the media is eerily reminiscent of the forces aligned against her in that earlier UHC battle. She was perceived as a threat to the status quo then, and (I believe) she's perceived as a threat to the status quo now.

It seems those Obama supporters who identify themselves as the "creative" class and pride themselves on their superior educational achievements are not so committed to "democratic (egalitarian) principles" as they are to maintaining the status quo.

So much for "Change We Can Believe In". The clothes have no emperor.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Couldn't agree more