Daniel Larison’s take on Michael Steele’s ridiculous hip hop posturing is pretty hilarious. Now Michelle Bachmann – fresh from a crash course in Ebonics circa 1997 – is trying to get in on the action:
As Steele concluded his remarks, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann — the event’s moderator — told Steele he was “da man.”
“Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man,” she said.
I look forward to Bachmann and Steel conversating on the future of the conservative movement.
Before Jonah Goldberg and the rest of the NRO crew lay into the newly-ascendant Cult of Obama, they would do well to remember the last eight years of absurd Republican hero-worship.
Post-bailout, does the public attach any significance to the dollar cost of public programs? Do you? Do I? Chris Hayes writes that Republicans will opportunistically capitulate on the stimulus package and then use its cost to justify blocking Obama’s other legislative priorities. In any other political context, this strikes me as a savvy move, but I’m beginning to think that the bailout debacle has left us numb to more deficit spending.
Buried in Mike Pence’s mindless Washington Times broadside is this foreign policy gem:
We must develop new strategies for strengthening our armed forces and homeland security, and be willing to oppose any effort to use our military for nation-building or progressive social experimentation.
You have to wade through several layers of Republican-speak to get to the real goodies – “strengthening our armed forces” is standard national security boilerplate; “progressive social experimentation” is undoubtedly a reference to gays in the military – but Pence’s explicit criticism of “nation-building” is definitely a shot at the Bush Administration. The fact that saying “invading Iraq was an absolutely disastrous idea” out loud is still political poison for any ambitious Republican is pretty disheartening, but at least Pence grasps the depth of Bush’s foreign policy failure.
The only problem with Pence’s framing is that he leaves the door open to basically any military intervention not premised on explicitly humanitarian goals. I can’t say I find this particularly surprising, but I’d venture that post-invasion Iraq minus the occupation would still be pretty horrific. So perhaps Pence should re-examine his premises.
TPM Election Central notes today that South Carolina Republican Party Chairman and recently declared candidate for RNC chairman, Katon Dawson, was formerly a member of a the 80-year-old whites-only Forest Lake country club.
In August, Dawson did indeed send a letter to the country club calling for it to open its doors to minorities. But Dawson, who had been a member for 12 years, only sent the letter after reports of the club’s racist membership rules appeared in the The State newspaper.
Somehow I doubt hosting a few more symposiums on urban vouchers is going to solve this sort of persistent image problem. We could go the direct route and kick all the racists out of the fucking party, but that’s crazy talk!
Have you read Steven Horowitz’s excellent response essay at Cato Unbound? Here’s an interesting nugget:
Libertarians like me who make arguments of the second sort can easily be accused of “vulgar libertarianism.” There might be cases where that claim is valid, but I don’t think the accusation is fair when the analyst tries her best to distinguish processes that characterize how markets work in general from the particular real-world processes that reflect the results of various government interventions. For example, if much of the claimed growth in inequality is the statistical artifact of the way in which people move through the life-cycle of income earnings and/or changes in the demographic characteristics of households, rather than a genuine increase in inequality or loss of mobility, there seems no necessary reason to reject that as being “vulgar libertarianism” and portray it as a defense of the statist status quo. This point is especially important as many of us see such arguments as crucial to heading off proposals that would, in fact, move us farther, perhaps much farther, away from freed markets based on a misinterpretation of the data. That is what I mean by playing defense, and whether or not this is “vulgar libertarianism,” it might well be an effective way to preserve real elements of freedom in the interventionist status quo.
Horowitz makes a persuasive case for pragmatic collaboration, and I think this mindset goes a long way towards explaining libertarians’ historical affinity for the GOP. Comparatively speaking, Republicans are usually a lot better on economic issues than the alternative, which makes the prospect of tactical collaboration on a wide range of domestic policies quite palatable.
The problem with this approach is that once you become closely associated with a political movement, your views are filtered through the lens of that movement’s ideological preferences. So the Cato Institute, despite its self-professed political independence, ends up relying on conventionally Right-leaning outlets for disseminating scholarship and commentary. And while National Review might publish an op-ed from Cato attacking the auto industry bailout, the magazine is a lot less likely to feature a piece that criticizes the Bush Administration’s surveillance regime or favors a less aggressive foreign policy.
Does an unreceptive political environment create a tendency within libertarian circles to downplay opposition to Republican policies? To be perfectly honest, I have no idea. But I suspect that solely relying on pragmatic cooperation has made libertarians a junior partner in an arrangement that is aimed first and foremost at advancing Republican principles.
The David Brooks column everyone is talking about is, I think, one of the best examples of the Republican Party’s unwillingness to grapple with the Iraq War and its aftermath. The impending intra-party fight Brooks describes centers on social and economic policy, with nary a mention of the war or foreign affairs. As an Iraq hawk, I suppose Brooks has something of an incentive to downplay foreign policy disagreements, but I also think this emphasis reflects a broader political reality: the failure of the Iraq War has not seriously damaged Republicans’ long-term political prospects. Which is a shame, because despite all the hemming and hawing about Bush’s domestic spending, the Iraq debacle is by far his biggest failure.