September 27, 2003

Where Are the Grownups in the Republican Party?

At last night's very pleasant event, where a substantial chunk of Berkeley economics faculty (plus one sociologist) took Robin Wells and Paul Krugman out to dinner, one of the main topics of conversation was: "Where are the grownups in the Republican Party?"

And where are they? Where are the grownups? Where are even the semi-grownups?

On the economic policy side, Marty Feldstein and Mike Boskin and company did not campaign for Bush thinking they were electing a guy who would blow open the federal budget and send our domestic politics on a trajectory that--unless reversed--will indeed land us in the neighborhood of Argentina. "It's amazing what they've done," says one senior Federal Reserve official. "It's like being up 8 runs at the start of the ninth inning, and then down 12 halfway through the ninth." Larry Lindsey and John Taylor did not join the federal government to impose tariffs on steel imports and blow up the Doha Round of the WTO. Greg Mankiw and Glenn Hubbard did not join the administration to stammer that there was a plan to reduce the budget deficit by half (even though nobody can say what it is without evoking laughter). Yet they are all very silent: hardly a peep, and certainly not a resignation on principle.

On the security side, Henry Kissinger, James Baker, and Brent Scowcroft did try to draw a line in the sand in favor of the containment rather than the invasion of Iraq. They did not think that they had campaigned for an administration that would tie down our combat brigades--the most modern, powerful, and mechanized combat brigades ever seen--as military police in the Iraqi desert, and in the process strain our powerful, useful, and just alliances with Europe to the breaking point. But their line in the sand was weakly drawn. And since last winter they too have fallen awfully silent.

Assistant Secretaries of State, Directors at the National Security Council, fellow-traveling outside ideologues--they did not sign up for an administration in which not one but two senior White House officials (with the approval and knowledge of God knows how many others in George W. Bush's inner circle) would dial reporter after reporter (in the end, six reporters) trying to find somebody who would help them blow the cover of covert American intelligence officers. Yet they too are awfully silent.

The only theory peddled around the dinner table that made even one quarter sense is that all the Republican grownup insiders fear loss of White House mess privileges and cherish the illusion that by quietly working on the inside they keep things from being much worse, and all the Republican grownup outsiders fear that putting themselves in opposition to the administration will mean that a number of phone calls will be made to K-Street lobbyists and right-wing foundations and that they will find their incomes in a free fall. But that only makes a quarter-sense--not even half-sense. First, the older ones have nothing to fear from the administration's retaliation: they have long since made their f*** you money. Second, such people are always much more into the influence than the big-pile-of-consumption-goods game, and to be a tireless advocate for this administration's economic or security policy seems to be a good way to blow your reputation and credibility for life.

Where are the grownups of the Republican Party?

Posted by DeLong at September 27, 2003 10:57 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Looking at the larger picture, the administration's mistakes in economic policy are small potatoes in comparison with the utter cluelessness of the Democrats in foreign policy. The Democrats now, with some honorable exceptions, are channeling the America Firsters of 1940 and the Henry Wallace pro-Soviet "progressives" of 1948.

If we lose World War IV the deficit will be the least of our worries.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on September 27, 2003 11:52 PM

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WWIV? I'm more worried about the War between Man and Machine. It's imperative that we win that one.

Oh, wait. We're not playing a sci-fi role-playing game? You're....you're serious, aren't you? You should check and see if your health plan covers a "sense of proportion" translplant. Medical science can do amazing things these days.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on September 28, 2003 12:01 AM

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What would it take to change your mind? Another 9-11 scale attack? A smuggled nuke going off in Washington or New York City?

What you don't seem to realize is that freedom comes at a price. Tyranny is the default, and freedom comes only as the result of a militant revolutionary struggle and continues only at the expense of the willingness of brave men and women to die in its defense. The world was not designed by the Peace and Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Church.

To be a starry-eyed idealist is to be a friend of tyrants. We saw that in the Stalin era, and we see it now.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on September 28, 2003 01:36 AM

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And a smuggled nuke is more likely to go off in New York if Wesley Clark or Howard Dean is elected, because...?

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer on September 28, 2003 01:41 AM

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Who knows what will happen if Howard Dean or Wesley Clark is elected. Howard Dean has called for more American troops in Iraq, and yet at other times he has given the impression that he is willing to cede the battle to the enemy. On May 11, 2002 General Clark gave a speech in Little Rock Arkansas in which he warmly endorsed the Bush administration's foreign policy. Since then he seems to have changed his mind.

If either of those gentlemen comes out with a clear and consistent position in favor of completing the liberation of Iraq and winning the war on terrorism then he will be a serious contender for my vote. Otherwise there is no choice but the man from Crawford.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on September 28, 2003 02:07 AM

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..., because... like with the anthrax the most probable culprit will be some republican that feel his way is better. Dr Strangelove has some variants that are still possible.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on September 28, 2003 02:10 AM

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Joe, which part of "imperial overstretch" don't you understand? Suppose we British, embroiled in Northern Ireland, had bombed Boston on the prefectly reasonable grounds that it was full of IRA fundraisers and sympathisers, and the US government was doing nothing to suppress them? Would that have really helped us win the war?

Of course, the USA is very much richer and more powerful than Britain. But that does not make it omnipotent. Not even a hyperpower can win every fight it picks, so it needs to pick its fights wisely. In the case of Iraq, it picked a fucking stupid fight, where an improbable victory will not make it more secure, and a suprisingly probable defeat will make it (and the rest of us) less secure.

None of us now how many well-trained troops would be required to restore order to Iraq. the Shinseki estimate, before the war, of 250,000 looks a reasonable starting point. You haven't got them. We (brits) haven't got them. I doubt that there an extra 100,000 troops to be shaken out of Europe even if there were the diplomatic will to supply them. In any case, there isn't the good will, and there won't be until Bush has gone and a stake has been driven through his heart.

If there aren't enough troops to "complete the liberation of Iraq", then it's not going to happen, however desirable it would be if it did happen. If it's not going to happen, we're all up the shit, and the guys who are going to get blamed for it are those who started this needless war.

As far as anyone can see, the best parallels to the current mess in Iraq are the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the French war in Algeria. Both of those lasted more than 15 years. Both were very expensive, as wars tend to be. So if Bush were serious about the threat of global terrorism, he would not have been gutting the finances of future governments as he has been.


Posted by: Andrew Brown on September 28, 2003 04:06 AM

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Foreign policy?

Has anyone noticed that the administration is not spending very much at all on homeland security? Ports, nuclear power plants, state and local police, etc., etc. are not getting the funding they need.

Invading Iraq and alienating our allies has not made us safer. A good argument can be made that the administration's foreign policy has made us less safe. I'm hard pressed to think of a coherent argument that its domestic policy has made us any safer.

Posted by: richard on September 28, 2003 05:25 AM

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Joe, probably one of the worst possible words to describe my foreign policy stance is "idealist". I'm a realist. In spite of myself, I find myself sometimes admiring Kissinger. I'm an interventionist.

I suggest you review the number of people killed in WWI, and especially the number of civilians killed in WWII.

Really, you should look into the sense of proportion transplant. It'll do wonders for your reasoning, as well as your peace of mind.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on September 28, 2003 05:50 AM

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Joe, which part of "imperial overstretch" don't you understand? Suppose we British, embroiled in Northern Ireland, had bombed Boston on the prefectly reasonable grounds that it was full of IRA fundraisers and sympathisers, and the US government was doing nothing to suppress them? Would that have really helped us win the war?

Of course, the USA is very much richer and more powerful than Britain. But that does not make it omnipotent. Not even a hyperpower can win every fight it picks, so it needs to pick its fights wisely. In the case of Iraq, it picked a fucking stupid fight, where an improbable victory will not make it more secure, and a suprisingly probable defeat will make it (and the rest of us) less secure.

None of us now how many well-trained troops would be required to restore order to Iraq. the Shinseki estimate, before the war, of 250,000 looks a reasonable starting point. You haven't got them. We (brits) haven't got them. I doubt that there an extra 100,000 troops to be shaken out of Europe even if there were the diplomatic will to supply them. In any case, there isn't the good will, and there won't be until Bush has gone and a stake has been driven through his heart.

If there aren't enough troops to "complete the liberation of Iraq", then it's not going to happen, however desirable it would be if it did happen. If it's not going to happen, we're all up the shit, and the guys who are going to get blamed for it are those who started this needless war.

As far as anyone can see, the best parallels to the current mess in Iraq are the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the French war in Algeria. Both of those lasted more than 15 years. Both were very expensive, as wars tend to be. So if Bush were serious about the threat of global terrorism, he would not have been gutting the finances of future governments as he has been.


Posted by: Andrew Brown on September 28, 2003 06:39 AM

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Jesus Christ, Joe Willingham, how does Democratic weakness on Communism decades ago justify Bush's inept economic policies? Is that the best a conservative can do these days? Point out that there have, in fact, been worse leaders, in some ways, than Bush, sometime in history?

How is that even slightly relevant to the discussion at hand?

Posted by: rps on September 28, 2003 07:12 AM

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Joe Willingham writes:

> Looking at the larger picture, the administration's mistakes
> in economic policy are small potatoes in comparison with
> the utter cluelessness of the Democrats in foreign policy.

and also:

> What would it take to change your mind? Another 9-11
> scale attack? A smuggled nuke going off in Washington or
> New York City?

And therefore identifies himself as somebody either who is not a grown-up in the Republican Party, or at least does not recognize grown-up behavior. On the first point, a foreign policy premised on blowing off one's allies despite detailed calculations that you will need them is not a grown-up policy. (And neither is tossing aside the grown-ups who point out that you need them.) On the second point, an adult viewing the situation would spend what it took to secure our ports and make sure local police forces had what it took to perform their usual activities and contribute to the extraordinary new risk. Adults might do other things as well, and might even disagree about what the best plan to enact was. But adults would not call their loyal opposition disloyal and leak the identity of intelligence agents whose spouses happened to make findings of fact against the administration policy.

Do you really not see the difference between adult and child-like behavior? Do you really think an adult would try (again!) to make the same "I'm a wounded puppy and why do they hate us" speech at the UN after it didn't work before?

Posted by: Jonathan King on September 28, 2003 07:14 AM

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What's great about Joe's post is its brave defiance of all that obsolete logic and reason crap. Joe points out that the worst security failure in US history happened under W's watch and derives from this a conclusion that W is our only hope. He follows up by asserting that a second, possibly even worse security failure would strengthen his case! That's impressive. Who needs all that Aristotelean cause/effect nonsense, when one can operate in Republican Dream Logic?

Posted by: citzen k on September 28, 2003 07:22 AM

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"Tyranny is the default...."

A proposition worth debating, in deep and in candor. So why must we wait for a disgusting little provocateur to advance it in so marginal a forum as this?

Final note to whomever: there is no such thing as American foreign policy. Whoso refers to any place offshore is merely speaking in code and in puppets, jockeying for position in the forthcoming American Civil War, which is everyone's 100% preoccupation--as well it should be, I suppose, now that all of the zillions of chances to head it off have been missed. There is no Iraq, no Iran, no North Korea, no Saddam, no Osama. All of these are merely surrogates for "Blue America". If you want to watch a hundred millions put to death, then support the Republican Party. If you do not want to see a hundred millions put to death, then leave and denounce the Republican Party, and don't expect anyone's respect until you have made that choice in those terms.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on September 28, 2003 07:33 AM

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Too bad this thread has nothing whatsoever to do with the post itself and everything to do with Mr. Willingham's troll. I thought this was the Brad DeLong weblog, not the Joe Willingham weblog. Oh well...

Posted by: Tom Slee on September 28, 2003 07:52 AM

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Well Tom, Joe's post is key because it illustrates one of the three fundamental components of radical right-wing fascism. Part one, Joe's part, is a group of suckers who are immune to logic or fact. Part two is the small group of Rovian manipulators. Part three is the moral and intellectual collapse of the "conservatives" who fail to understand the economics of deals with the devil.

Posted by: citizen k on September 28, 2003 08:53 AM

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"cherish the illusion that by quietly working on the inside they keep things from being much worse"

What's scary is the realization that they may actually BE keeping things from getting much worse.

Joe W., what you need to realize is that Bush and company think YOU are a fool. They've duped you so badly that you are willing to parrot their propaganda for them. Learn this: "Just because you are on their side does not mean that they are on your side". That's from Teresa Nielsen Hayden, to give proper credit.

Posted by: Chuck Nolan on September 28, 2003 09:03 AM

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"If either of those gentlemen comes out with a clear and consistent position in favor of completing the liberation of Iraq and winning the war on terrorism then he will be a serious contender for my vote. Otherwise there is no choice but the man from Crawford."

My goodness.

What, pray tell, is George W. Bush's "clear and consistent position" on these matters?

I too would like a good analysis from a presidential candidate. I'm hoping that General Clark can provide one -- and I suspect he can and will.

But if one thing is clear to me, it's that President Bush cannot.

Posted by: Brandonimac on September 28, 2003 10:01 AM

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Joe:
Whatever "World War IV" is, if we lose it, that'll probably have something to do with the widespread proliferation of WMDs — and notice of the defeat will probably come by way of a giftwrapped nuclear weapon.

_Which makes it all the more mind-boggling that not one, but *two* White House officials would blow the cover of someone whose job it is — correction, *was* — to stop the proliferation of those kinds of weapons in the first place._

And you want us to think that these guys are _protecting_ our security?! Jesus Christ on a stick ...

Posted by: Greg Greene on September 28, 2003 10:30 AM

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"What you don't seem to realize is that freedom comes at a price. Tyranny is the default, and freedom comes only as the result of a militant revolutionary struggle and continues only at the expense of the willingness of brave men and women to die in its defense."

Or I guess in this case be sacrificied on the altar of gross incompetence. Iraq hasn't presented a danger to anyone since the early 90's and Bush 1. Those young men and women in Iraq aren't sacrificing their lives for freedom. They're dying for public relations for the RNC and to give warm fuzzies to freepers by an administration that spits in the face of Veterans and those on active duty.

Posted by: Gideon S. on September 28, 2003 10:47 AM

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Hmmm... I don't know. Do the Republican grownups somehow hoping, maybe, that after botching its first term, but maybe winning the presidential election of 2004 (against a weak Democratic candidate), but losing a lot of congressional support, that the administration might become more level-headed and flexible? That they might be waiting on the wings to step in once the more radical, warlike, deficit-spending protectionist elements of the Bush administration become discredited, as Robert Reich and Ira Magaziner fell out of favor after the early years of the Clinton administration?

Hmmm... not a very good theory, but it's the best I can come up with now.

Posted by: Julian Elson on September 28, 2003 10:53 AM

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The problem is Rove. The grown-ups won't deal with a gate-keeper like him. As long as Rove continues to filter the information Bush gets, he will continue to make decisions that are bad.

Rove's “triangulation” is the source of a lot of the growing conservative discontent with Bush. The idea that one can simultaneously cut taxes and grow the budget hangs on a very slippery analysis of the 1980's. One that ignores a substantive shift in the driving forces in the American economy. Triangulation is nothing more than a Machiavellian method of holding power. It is not good public policy because it does not follow a political philosophy such as liberalism, socialism or conservatism…its sole goal is to strengthen the power of the Prince.

I also think Rove is behind the Plame FUBAR. And if so, he should be tried and shot for endangering an intelligence operative.

QM

Posted by: Jody Dorsett on September 28, 2003 11:20 AM

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apologies for the triple post. I kept getting dropped connection messages when I tried to post it.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on September 28, 2003 11:25 AM

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The problem is Rove. The grown-ups won't deal with a gate-keeper like him. As long as Rove continues to filter the information Bush gets, he will continue to make decisions that are bad.

Rove's “triangulation” is the source of a lot of the growing conservative discontent with Bush. The idea that one can simultaneously cut taxes and grow the budget hangs on a very slippery analysis of the 1980's. One that ignores a substantive shift in the driving forces in the American economy. Triangulation is nothing more than a Machiavellian method of holding power. It is not good public policy because it does not follow a political philosophy such as liberalism, socialism or conservatism…its sole goal is to strengthen the power of the Prince.

I also think Rove is behind the Plame FUBAR. And if so, he should be tried and shot for endangering an intelligence operative.

QM

Posted by: Jody Dorsett on September 28, 2003 11:25 AM

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Correct me if I am wrong (I am not an economist) but recession started during Clinton's watch.Bush inherited an administration ill prepared for international terrorism because of lack of vision from the intelligence community and previous leaders.We were not prepared to confront a new enemy.9/11 and its aftermath changed the whole game.
Budget deficit:how else will you fight a war?.Did Keynes say a deficit is not important?.Compared to % of GDP, today's deficit still is below the deficit after WWII.
My only complain is that instead of going to Irak, billions should be invested in infrastructure in this country(New Deal:FTTH, the new WPA of this century).
Europe against us:when did the europeans (me included) had any vision in foreign affairs?.Should we remember Petain and Hitler?,the lack of prompt recognition of the holocaust...

Posted by: Julian Bonaval on September 28, 2003 11:45 AM

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Correct me if I am wrong (I am not an economist) but recession started during Clinton's watch.Bush inherited an administration ill prepared for international terrorism because of lack of vision from the intelligence community and previous leaders.We were not prepared to confront a new enemy.9/11 and its aftermath changed the whole game.
Budget deficit:how else will you fight a war?.Did Keynes say a deficit is not important?.Compared to % of GDP, today's deficit still is below the deficit after WWII.
My only complain is that instead of going to Irak, billions should be invested in infrastructure in this country(New Deal:FTTH, the new WPA of this century).
Europe against us:when did the europeans (me included) had any vision in foreign affairs?.Should we remember Petain and Hitler?,the lack of prompt recognition of the holocaust...

Posted by: Julian Bonaval on September 28, 2003 11:54 AM

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People: press the "post" button ONCE, then wait a minute or something, then re-open the comments page in a NEW WINDOW. If your post is there, don't press post against, even if your posting page still claims to be trying to get through, ignore it! It's lying!

Posted by: Julian Elson on September 28, 2003 11:56 AM

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Prof Delong:

I am sympathetic to your disappointment which I find classical; wondering why apparently honest men (grown-up republicans) have not abondonded a bad cause but you know the reason and have fleshed it out with your samples (some utility arguments notwithstanding)
Power corrupts in all of it forms. Who of us jepopardize our meal tickets or our chance at 15 minutes of fame.
Yes there are heroes but they are few and maybe they have the death urge. Virtue for most honest men placed in the dilemma (cooperation or loss) is to hide in the cracks rationalizing our silence as non conplictiy, waiting for the storm to pass.
But the nice thing about democracies, perhaps epitomized by blogs like this is to make hiding in those cracks very uncomfortable.

Posted by: Honza on September 28, 2003 12:05 PM

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Julian Elson - the recession actually started in March '01, 2 months after Bush took office. And besides, the main criticism of Bush is not that we had a recession, but that he has done so little to improve the situation.

As for the budget deficit, it's true that it's expensive to win a war, but we have a $450 billion dollar deficit even without the war, which is a record. Most of that is because of tax cuts for the rich.

Posted by: rps on September 28, 2003 12:35 PM

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The "grown-ups" are cashing in like bandits.

What you are seeing is the slow motion public exposure of the sheer bankruptcy of conservative economics.

They are not primarily motivated to figure out how the economy works or to improve the general welfare. They are primarily motivated by money and power.

Posted by: The Fool on September 28, 2003 12:38 PM

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"Correct me if I am wrong (I am not an economist) but recession started during Clinton's watch. Bush inherited an administration ill prepared for international terrorism because of lack of vision from the intelligence community and previous leaders."

Correction: The recession started in March 2001 and ended in November 2001. Still, despite the dramatic lowering of interest rates by the Fed our absurd fiscal policy has given us a massive structural deficit with continuing loss of jobs. The structural deficit has been caused by the series of tax cuts, not the recession or defense needs. The current Administration from the beginning was determined to limit the surplus of the 90s. Well, so much for the surplus.

The military was in superb shape in 2000. This superb shape was shown in Afghanistan and Iraq. The attempt by the Administartion in the 90s to introduce a department of homeland security and to tighten airport security was thwarted by Congress. What intelligence weaknesses may have existed in 2001 call for thorough analysis but are not clear, at least to the public.

President Clinton appointed George Tenet as CIA Chief in July 1997, the Republican chaired Senate Select Committee on Intelligence gave unanimous support, and Bush chose to continue the appointment.

Intelligence on Iraq was gathered by this Administration from January 2001 to the war in March 2003.

Posted by: lise on September 28, 2003 01:22 PM

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A small addition to the above: Bush is possibly responsible for bin Laden getting away at Tora Bora, because he and the other incompetents decided to rely on proxy troops (benefit: fewer American casualties; cost---greater chance of bin Laden getting away, which happened in the event).

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on September 28, 2003 01:36 PM

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Hahahahaha.

Give me a break. The Bush Foreigh "policy" is the most incompetent in a generation. Only true believers think otherwise.

Thanks for the laugh Joe.

Posted by: Ian Welsh on September 28, 2003 01:44 PM

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Your remark about "where are the grownups" reminds me of a favorite quotation I've been trying to chase down for years and years. IIRC it was HL Mencken, but I've been unable to find the original source. The quote is about the election of Calvin Coolidge, and it goes something like this:
"It is as if the greatest chefs assembled a huge banquet of the most sumptuous dishes in the nation, and the guests, instead of sampling the fare, chose to turn their backs on the table and snatch at flies."

Posted by: Charles on September 28, 2003 01:51 PM

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If OBL were captured in Pakistan by american ground troops and let's say 100 soldiers were killed, I am sure we would hear that "Bush does not care for the lives of americans, will do anything to get his enemy".
Let's also blame Clinton for his scape, since he turned him down when offered by an african nation.
With regard of the Bush foreign policy being the most incompetent in a generation, I guess we either have forgotten the Carter fiasco (Iran, Nicaragua, Panama...) or suddenly a generation has decreased to 10 years.

Posted by: Julian Bonaval on September 28, 2003 02:13 PM

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rps, I think you are referring Julian Bonaval, not Elson, though you're right otherwise.

Posted by: Julian Elson on September 28, 2003 02:16 PM

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"You hear a lot of jokes every once in a while about "Silent Cal Cooloidge".The joke is on the people who makes the jokes.Look at his record.He cut the taxes four times.We had probably the greatest growth and prosperity that we've ever known.I have taken heed of that because if he did that by doing nothing, maybe that's the answer". Ronal Reagan,1981.

Posted by: Julian Bonaval on September 28, 2003 02:20 PM

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Bonaval, Carter ended his presidency in January 1980, that's 23 good years ago.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on September 28, 2003 02:28 PM

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As may have been mentioned, the one aspect I find disappointing about the "kids" (read: cranks and charlatans) running the shop is that they effectively marginalize legitimate "conservatives".

In terms of economic policy, should we not be following and contributing to debates and discussion led by Mankiw, Feldstein, Krugman, DeLong, etc.? Instead, it seems that Krugman’s “policy entrepreneurs” speak for the Administration and people like Joe take the bait; hook, line and sinker.

Posted by: Stephane on September 28, 2003 02:39 PM

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I know, so it is within a generation.Foreign policy mistakes have been the norm by any administration since the beginning of this country.In the spanish speaking countries they write about the Chile's 9/11:death of President Allende in a military coup sponsored by the CIA,on September 11, 1973.Nixon was the president.
Believe me, both parties share blame for ignoring world affairs and the voices of justice.
When Jacobo Arbenz tried to reproduce the same programs of Roosevelt in his country (Guatemala)his days were numbered.
Hopefully in the future we see all men under the same light, regardless of race, culture, credo...

Posted by: Julian Bonaval on September 28, 2003 02:40 PM

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What are the reasons for a jobless recovery?
-increased productivity?
-normal pattern?:job creation will follow
any comments?

Posted by: Julian Bonaval on September 28, 2003 04:25 PM

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I still don't understand why they did it, this iraq war thing. I can think of no coherent set of reasons and motives that combine to form a reasonable or at least arguable policy. The best i can come up with is "because they (thought) they could."

During the build up to the war, which began with a media drum beat more than a year before, portraying it as "inevitable", but started in earnest with the decision to go to the U.N. in Aug. 2002, I was amazed at how astonishingly weak the public case presented by the Bush administration was and how many times it seemed to come apart, culminating just before the war in Colin Powell's threadbare U.N. presentation, the second Blair dossier, and the Niger forgery. Of course, much of what is now reported in the media as belying the case for war was readily available from open public sources before the war. But it was the kaleidoscopically shifting rationales, the presentation of a series of reasons, each one seeming to replace the lack of substantiation of the previous, that most flabbergasted me: Osama, 9/11, terrorism, WMD, might go NUCLEAR, saddam oppressed his own people, used his WMD on them, he was a threat to his neighbors, liberate the Iraqi people (because we know what is best for them and what they want), greeted by flowers and kisses, not about oil, self-financing, drain the swamp, new Middle East, etc. All this was not a public presentation of an argument for a public policy and plan for war, (though for reasons of national security and strategy, of course, we need to keep these matters secret, even though we have long since been publicly proclaiming our intention to go to war), but rather a connect-the-dots puzzle. (Perhaps the war was in fact driven by their peculiar methods of interpreting intelligence, after all.) It seems as if Bush's brain operates by asseveration rather than ratiocination. Is this really the case or is it a matter of propagandistic manipulation? Or is there a difference here and how can we tell? (Undoubtedly, the most deluded man in history was Adolf Hitler: delusion and cynicism are not opposites.)

But, most of all, what strains credulity past the breaking point-(and this being America, credulity is always a bankable commodity)-, is the apparent lack of realistic post-war planning.
If this war had been a rational policy and strategy, would not this have been the paramount concern, since winning the war militarily was never in doubt, but rather well advertised in advance? (And to add to the "because the could" account, because they knew that far from being a threat, the Saddam Hussein regime was so rotted out and tenuous in its grip on power as to be easily toppled.) Of course, the State Dept. did elaborately plan for the post-war aftermath, beginning in April 2002, employing recently exiled Iraqi professionals with a working knowledge of the country. In fact, their plans anticipated virtually all the problems that eventuated from the looting to the resistance to the infrastructural difficulties; they even proposed to tow in 4 large electrical generators on barges in the immediate aftermath. (there was a very detailed article about this from Knight-Ridder that appeared in early July.) But, of course, all this was swept aside in Jan. 2003 when planning responsibility was assigned to the DoD's Office of Special Plans.
(And incidently, speaking of grown-ups, why has Colin Powell, who once was the great white hope of the Republican Party, not resigned? Is it because the word "resignation" is not in his vocabulary?) But the biggest error of them all was the precipitous decision to declare the Iraqi army "dissolved" rather than reconstructing it at least in part; it is impossible to patrol a country with an army that can not communicate with
the population, but this is the quandary we are now in, regardless of the required number of troops available. I think that the failure to have even conceived of this possibility, speaks to what the Bush administration's "vision" of the future of Iraq may be.

It is one thing to be or be called an imperialist; it is quite another thing to be and be called a completely incompetent imperialist.

Posted by: john c. halasz on September 28, 2003 04:35 PM

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I'm not sure where the responsible leaders of the Republican party (outside of John McCain) are but I am sure of this: the rest of us are crazy if we sit around and give the BushCo 4 more years to find out!

Posted by: Joe Pundit on September 28, 2003 06:49 PM

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What is the Krugman timeline on when the big economic disaster is going to take place? It wouldn’t happen to be anytime in the next few years, say, in a Democratic administration, now would it?

And if so, have all you potential Democratic economic advisors been doing something besides pissing and moaning, although, granted, there was plenty of just cause for the pissing and moaning. Say if the dollar tanks or unemployment goes to 10-20%, or the Great Equalization takes place, you have all the appropriate creative post imperialist disaster ducks lined up and ready to go into action?

I hope so. Because if you don’t, and the Democrats get blamed for it big time, you could see lots lots nastier conservatives than what you hear on talk radio and on weblogs sometimes. Some of the ones in the country are super mean, and they have lots and lots of guns.

Posted by: northernLights on September 28, 2003 06:57 PM

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"Let's also blame Clinton for his scape, since he turned him down when offered by an african nation."

I would like to point out that this is a flat-out LIE, that the Republicans have circulated. I don't like to see this kind of smear repeated without speaking up.

I think the reason we don't see any "grownups" left in The Party is that they have been taken over by something resembling a cult. (Read "Blinded By the Right" by David Brock.)

Posted by: Dave Johnson on September 28, 2003 08:41 PM

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How about the fact that Prof. DeLong got to have dinner with Krugman? Hell, I'm jealous of anyone else who was in that room.

Posted by: DavidNYC on September 28, 2003 09:12 PM

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Prof. Delong, I think the grownups are in the same place they were in Germany, Italy, and Spain in the 1930s. On the right, they are locked in a spanking machine somewhere. On the left, they are busy cutting each other off at the knees.

The moderate right let the radicals and their paranoia in because the radicals could win elections. And they could do this--if enough of a population can be made scared enough of change, radical reactionaries can win. Problem is, the fear doesn't go away after the election, and the moderates are discovering that the radicals, having won the elections, don't need them.

The history of the 1930s is perfectly plain; I've been talking about it for seven years or so. But saying "I told you so" isn't satisfying at all--how the hell do we *stop* this thing? Or at least redirect it?

Posted by: Randolph Fritz on September 28, 2003 11:08 PM

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I liked Citizen k's "Republican Dream Logic". There's a sinister side to dreams, brought out in Goya's great etching "The sleep of reason engenders monsters", see http://www.museum.cornell.edu/HFJ/handbook/hb128.html
If only the programme were just about oil supplies and buddy contracts.

Posted by: James on September 29, 2003 02:13 AM

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OK, so here's an interesting column on Karl Rove from last January that may have started the "Where are the grown-ups?" notion.

http://www.ronsuskind.com/writing/esquire/esq_rove_0103.html

Posted by: Jonathan King on September 29, 2003 05:59 AM

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I think the previous posts are exagerating when comparing today's USA with pre-WII Europe.Bush and company are Christian fundamentalists (nothing wrong with that but I do not embrace it)Franco, Hitler anmd Benito were fascists.Among "liberals" you also find fascist "Techniques" (supression of the truth through coercion instead of free exchange of ideas and ability to convice the oponent or at least make him/her see your point).
We need more debate and less preaching.

Posted by: Julian Bonaval on September 29, 2003 06:09 AM

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Is this what passes for intelligent discourse on the left? If so, for better or worse, the right will have a lock on power for a long time in this country.

Posted by: No Way on September 29, 2003 09:46 AM

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Julian--intense, conservative Catholicism was part of Spanish and Italian "fascism." That is the parallel to our current situation.

"Fascism"--a term I don't usually use except to cover the Italian movement, which called itself that--was characterized by authoritarian political ideals which reached back to an imagined past, in Spain with a rigidly authoritarian and past-looking religion, a deep hostility to individual rights, a strong pro-business stance, and a powerful control of media. These are all distressingly similar to the current US situation. Have the US crossed the line? Not, I think, quite yet--I think that would require institution of an undemocratic government and--though US democracy is doing poorly, it is not yet entirely gone. But we are coming to the time when we will be making the choices.

An extended discussion of fascism, with comparisons to the current US situation, can be read in Dave Neiwert's blog at http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Randolph Fritz on September 29, 2003 10:03 AM

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Joe W
The Clinton Administration informed the incoming Bush Administration that the greatest threat was Osama Bin Laden and provided a plan of action for taking him out - The Bushies backburnered the idea until nearly 3000 civilians were killed.

Julian
As David J pointed out, the "Clinton let OBL escape" is a fabrication.
Regarding the jobloss recovery, the Bush economic policies have not been directed to create jobs, but rather enrich the wealthy, empower the powerful and create an indentured middle class (real class warfare). This is definitely NOT a normal recovery pattern in terms of job growth. The wealthy experience only the upside to outsourcing labor to low cost countries. Retraining is the workers problem. (You're point about productivity is apparantly part of the explantion.)

Posted by: apav on September 29, 2003 11:16 AM

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OK, so here's an interesting column on Karl Rove from last January that may have started the "Where are the grown-ups?" notion.

Jonathon, the administration started that meme upon taking office. All the talk about the grown-ups being back in charge upon the Bush inaugural had me asking, "In what country?" That dates to Jan. 2001.

As for Joe (What would it take to change your mind? Another 9-11 scale attack? A smuggled nuke going off in Washington or New York City?), he seems to still be convinced that Bush saved us from Iraqi nukes. Sorry, Joe, but the nukes are elsewhere, but our troops are too tied down in Mr. Bush's war to do anything about them.

As for the original question, where are the grownups on the right? Well, we're becoming conservative democrats thanks to GWB.

Posted by: exgop on September 29, 2003 02:29 PM

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The question "where are the grownups in the Republican Party?" is itself infantile. 1992-2000 (and 1976-1980 and 1963-1968) proved the Republicans have no monopoly on bad decisions.

Posted by: Lugo on September 29, 2003 03:30 PM

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The question "where are the grownups in the Republican Party?" is itself infantile. 1992-2000 (and 1976-1980 and 1963-1968) proved the Republicans have no monopoly on bad decisions.

Posted by: Lugo on September 29, 2003 03:35 PM

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Randolph Fritz's formulation has it down pat, but I think Neiwert pussyfoots around fascism in his essay (and on his note on the Bush family's "trading with the enemy" WW2 links).

What gets forgotten is that WW1 and WW2 were to a great extent, if not entirely, actions against the collective social response to capital. WW1 arises when the German chancellor, Bethmann-Hollweg, sees war as "the only means of staving off wide scale civil unrest at home" (www.firstworldwar.com). WW2 is a war against Russia (20m dead).

Given the "nearly complete collapse of the prevailing economic theory" (Jamie Galbraith, TAP, 14 Feb 2000), is K's "great revulsion" going to be enough?

Posted by: C Lake on September 29, 2003 03:58 PM

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"What's great about Joe's post is its brave defiance of all that obsolete logic and reason crap. Joe points out that the worst security failure in US history happened under W's watch and derives from this a conclusion that W is our only hope."

Excellent.

"1992-2000 proved the Republicans have no monopoly on bad decisions."

Yeah, right. See:
http://tinyurl.com/p47b

And a similar one for jobs.

And without Bush's "off the books" Enron-style of accounting, the US does have a record, as percentage of GDP, deficit.

Lugo -- read "The Great Unravelling"?

Honor, dignity, and responsibility, baby!

Posted by: MattB on September 29, 2003 05:15 PM

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100 American casualties in Tora Bora in order to get OBL?!??! Does anybody think that is a high price? If I were Tommy Franks, and I lost 3000 soldiers to get OBL and Al-Zawahiri, I would call it mission accomplished! And I would stick my finger in the face of anyone who thought otherwise!

Posted by: econBras on September 29, 2003 07:35 PM

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What a complete waste of fucking energy.

Posted by: CHitchens on September 29, 2003 11:39 PM

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Paul Krugman seems to be the god of the liberals on this web site. But have any of you seen him on TV? He's a nervous, shifty-eyed, weak-chinned, unmanly little thing. Looking at him one comes up with a grade of "F" on the honor and integrity scale. A reading of his recent newspaper columns confirms that impression.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on September 29, 2003 11:47 PM

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Joe,
I suppose if he had man-boobs, you'd fancy him more?

Posted by: john c. halasz on September 30, 2003 03:58 AM

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I can see:
"Do you want another 9/11?" becoming as popular a saying as "Remember the Alamo!".
That said, I think Mr. Willingham, you should consider something re September 11th and all events since.
While one can insist that "Murphy Never Sleeps", I think it is impotant to ask ourselves just how much of what has happened in the almost three years since the Bush administration was installed is attributable to coincidence.
It does tend to strain credibility on a number of fronts.

Posted by: Neil Belsky on September 30, 2003 04:18 AM

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I can see:
"Do you want another 9/11?" becoming as popular a saying as "Remember the Alamo!".
That said, I think Mr. Willingham, you should consider something re September 11th and all events since.
While one can insist that "Murphy Never Sleeps", I think it is impotant to ask ourselves just how much of what has happened in the almost three years since the Bush administration was installed is attributable to coincidence.
It does tend to strain credibility on a number of fronts.

Posted by: Neil Belsky on September 30, 2003 04:21 AM

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MattB, Krugman's column is nothing but partisan lies, his book is doubtless more of the same.

Great, Clinton supposedly created a lot of jobs. Too bad few of them had decent wages or benefits. Where is the honor and dignity in schlepping away your life at a McJob that doesn't even pay a living wage, eh?

Posted by: Lugo on September 30, 2003 07:40 AM

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Joe once more proves the veracity of the original post. How pathetic.

Posted by: Joe Shillingham on September 30, 2003 03:30 PM

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Weak-chinned and unmanly? There's some cogent analysis.

Columns are partisan lies? Care to back that up?

Posted by: Stephane on September 30, 2003 03:33 PM

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C Lake, I think rather the wars were expressions of resistance to social change rather than, specifically, defenses of capital--the people in charge of Japan and Germany, especially, could not stand to be weak, or only participants in a world--they had to be the rulers. World War II was not primarily against the Soviet Union, no matter how awful it was for the Soviet Union.

Joe, Krugman doesn't have acting and speech coaches like Reagan and W. Bush. He probably doesn't know how to use television makeup, either, and I doubt he has much practice dealing sith stage fright.

Judging someone's honor and integrity on their stage presence is foolish.

Posted by: Randolph Fritz on October 1, 2003 11:26 AM

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> He's a nervous, shifty-eyed, weak-chinned, unmanly little thing.

And I'm sure you're a veritably Uebermensch, Joe. So stick your ad hominems where the sun don't shine.

Posted by: nick sweeney on October 2, 2003 09:31 AM

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I miss the good old days of bimbo politics. About a year ago I suggested a return to such politics. It was amusing. A bimbo is much prettier than some silly whistle blower in the white house. Little did I imagine that the Democrats who would resort to bimbo politics in California, very effectively using it against an inarticulate Viennese muscleman who the stooge media is pimping for governor. Let's hear it for the bimbos!

Posted by: Jerry Greenberg on October 3, 2003 04:07 PM

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"He's a nervous, shifty-eyed, weak-chinned, unmanly little thing."

It's funny...that's exactly what I think when ever I see George W. Bush!

Posted by: Anon E. Muss on October 7, 2003 08:21 AM

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"He's a nervous, shifty-eyed, weak-chinned, unmanly little thing."

It's funny...that's exactly what I think when ever I see George W. Bush!

Posted by: Anon E. Muss on October 7, 2003 08:25 AM

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If you would be unloved and forgotten, be reasonable.

Posted by: Gershbein Reid on December 10, 2003 02:13 PM

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John Bradford, Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins

Posted by: Mongin Glory on January 9, 2004 10:45 AM

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