Quote of the Day

“The [Republican] party has let itself become the captive of conflicting ideological bases:  anti-abortion advocates, anti-immigration activists, social conservatives worried about the sanctity of marriage, libertarians who want to shrink government, and anti-tax advocates who want to drown government in a bathtub.

“Sorry, but you can’t address the great challenges America faces today with that incoherent mix of hardened positions.”

Thomas Friedman, “We Need a Second Party,” NYT

Romney the Empty Suit v. Perry the Empty Ten-Gallon Hat

I’ve always viewed Mitt “I’m Also Unemployed” Romney as an empty suit, who was born on third-base with a mouthful of silver spoons, a pale shadow of his dad in terms of intellect and leadership ability.

But with each debate, Rick Perry is showing himself to be an empty ten-gallon hat.  If the “anybody but Romney” crowd thought he was their savior, it’s becoming obvious they were wrong.

David Brooks Doesn’t Read His Own Paper

In today’s NYT David Brooks writes “at least Republicans respect Americans enough to tell us what they really think.”  Apparently he missed yesterday’s article about Mitch Daniels headlined “Republican Calls for a More Honest Debate.”  Daniels chided his own party for not being “more candid and honest.”

Republicans tell us what they think the Tea Party wants to hear.  They pander to the lowest common denominator of that sorry bunch — the ignorant, pathetic guy with the goofiest costume and the sign with the most misspellings.

If Republicans respected us, they would show a little respect for basic economics, math, and science.


President Obama Cannot Give a Trivial Speech in a Towering Setting

A speech before a Joint Session of Congress, like the one President Obama will give on Thursday, is a huge deal.  Sometimes, as after 9/11, it is a command performance, when the American people expect to hear from their president after a major shock.  But when the president asks both for our attention and for that particular stage, he’d better live up to it.

If President Obama offers a laundry-list of minor job proposals, if the speech is not both instructive as to why we are in trouble and inspiring as to how we will triumph, he will be dwarfed by his setting and appear small and foolish, as unworthy of his office.

This is a truly awful moment to be president.  President Bush had the brilliant idea of cutting taxes while adding a new health care entitlement, the prescription drug part of Medicare, and fighting two wars.  Warnings about a Wall Street that had become Las Vegas with more tasteful decor, about an unregulated “shadow economy” of derivatives, were ignored.  The financial crisis we suffered is different from a generic recession, and takes much longer to recover from, especially with respect to job creation.

But there are larger forces at work here, aside from the domestic mess President Obama inherited.  Americans prospered because much of the rest of the world consisted of illiterate peasants.  Today, India and China are filled with young people who know math and science and know them better than many of our young people.  We prospered because we educated more of our people than other developed countries.  We didn’t force the bulk of our young people off the college track at a tender age, the way they did in Europe.

Our prosperity was based on our people, our unique American combination of a willingness to work hard and limitless opportunity for those who did.  Today, all over the world, other people are competing effectively with us.  President Obama needs to explain how these people, this rising global middle class, can become our customers rather than our competitors.

We have gone from an agricultural economy to a manufacturing economy to a service economy.  Where do we go now?  We are ready to hop in our covered wagons, metaphorically speaking, and go on to the next frontier.  But what is it, where is it, and how do we get there?

Ten years after 9/11, the president does not have to deal with our towers falling literally.  But they are falling figuratively.  We really need a national unity government to address the big picture of our current crisis and our uncertain future.  But a Republican Party obsessed with kicking President Obama out of the Oval Office will never sit down with him in that office to listen to experts and govern accordingly.  They aren’t interested in wisdom, only in winning, which is a loss for the American people, especially our unemployed.

Rubio’s Rubicon

Now the battle lines are clearly drawn for 2012.  In his speech at the Reagan Library,  Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), the most highly-touted vice presidential pick, crossed the Rubicon into the sorry land of those who would extinguish the New Deal and the Great Society.  He declared that Social Security and Medicare “actually weakened us as a people.” Whoever the Republican nominee is, this deluded thinking is what President Obama will be fighting against.

Americans have received Social Security checks since January 31, 1940, and have been signing up for Medicare since July 1, 1966.  If we’re so “weakened,” how did we manage to win World War II and the Cold War, how did we manage to go to the Moon?  How did we become the world’s only superpower?  Are our extraordinary men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan “weakened” because their grandparents are receiving benefits they paid for?

I believe we are weakened by the growing inequality between those at the tippy-top and everyone else.  Marco Rubio may not agree with me, but Thomas Jefferson did.