November 20, 2013

On The Presidents George Bush

I will talk loudly and late into the evening about my personal disappointments and philosophical differences with both Presidents Bush.

But I believe GHWB41 to be perhaps the finest man to ever hold the office. After I read a sequence of presidential biographies a few years ago, it was my conclusion that there were no better persons -- there were certainly better presidents. But read his All the Best, My Life in Letters and you will be swept away by his integrity and decency.

I ache at the policy differences that have grown between me and GWB43. Yet I remain proud of my efforts to elect him in 2000 and 2004 and hold no illusion that VP Gore or Senator Kerry would have been half as good as W, with all his failings.

And -- as far as integrity and decency. Prof. Mankiw links to this and says "Students often ask me what George W. Bush is like as a person. This story from Dana Perino gives a great sense of what I saw and experienced as well."

He spent too much and trusted Executive power -- and government in general -- too much. But. yes, I miss ol' W.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:14 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Don't know who sees the embed -- I see more white than the divinity stand at a Pat Boone concert in Duluth. You can click the link to view it on RCP.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2013 7:01 PM
But jk thinks:

... and it is really loud -- turn your speakers waaaay down.

... and it is a virus of sorts. It will reopen when you try to close it. It's the ObamaCare® website of Conservative thought!

... but I would still recommend it.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2013 7:09 PM

May 31, 2013

These are the End Times, Baby!

CNBC's John Harwood @JohnJHarwood tweets of "nice piece by @jonward11 on GWB post-presidency."

It is. Like FOX News Sunday's affectionate portrayal of Sen. Bob Dole on Memorial Day Weekend, one can appreciate the man even if one has come to doubt some of his policies.

Is this, however, a sign of how far President Obama has fallen? There are flattering stories in HuffPo? And John Harwood tweets about them? Anything else I missed -- water still flows downhill?

Posted by John Kranz at 9:06 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

All previous attempts to distract from IRSgate have failed, including one headline I saw that read, "Lipstick on Obama's Collar." But you're right, it must have required some seriously hard swallowing for them to write anything except vitreol about GWB.

Posted by: johngalt at May 31, 2013 5:00 PM

April 26, 2013

Quote of the Day

This week something changed. George W. Bush is back, for the unveiling of his presidential library. His numbers are dramatically up. You know why? Because he's the farthest thing from Barack Obama. -- "Our Margaret"
Hat-tip: blog friend Terri
Posted by John Kranz at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2011

Toolbooths to the Middle Class

I don't wish to rekindle the Quantum Theory debate, but it is interesting to speculate on counterfactuals and how the world would have been if... The BBC Show Red Dwarf suggested that if Quantum Theory holds true, there would be a universe "where Ringo was a really good drummer."

And there might be one where President George Bush pursued his domestic agenda without the exigencies of 9/11. This, admittedly, could be a utopian or dystopian tale...

But lost for all time was the campaign coinage "tollbooths to the middle class." I don't know if a domestic W would have fixed them, but it is an important concept that is ignored in progressive politics. It is swell to give $1,000 to everybody who makes less than 10,000, but the marginal rate on a worker making 9,999 is roughly, negative-eleven-billiondy-one per cent. Which is what economists call "a lot."

Professor Daniel P. Kessler details the effects of ObamaCare® on this:

Fixing the notch is not so easy. To phase out the subsidy smoothly for families with incomes of 134% to 400% of poverty, the law would have to take away $22,700 in subsidies as a family's income rose to $93,700 from $31,389. In other words, for every dollar earned in this income range, a family's subsidy would have to decline by 36 cents. On top of 25% federal income taxes, 5% state income taxes, and 15% Social Security taxes, this implies a reward to work of less than 20 cents on the dollar--in economists' language, an implicit marginal tax rate of over 80%. Although economists may differ on the effect of taxes on work effort, it is hard to fathom how anyone could argue that this will not reduce economic activity.

It gets worse. There are also subsidies to cover the deductibles and copayments of insurance policies purchased through an exchange--and like the premium subsidies, these subsidies also phase out with income. There is also the likelihood that federal and state income taxes on upper-middle income families will have to be raised above current levels to finance the cost of the subsidy, the Medicaid expansion, and other provisions of the new law. Both of these effects exacerbate the law's negative work incentives.


And this is just new legislation. These pernicious effects are layered on top of welfare, food support, housing subsidies, and all the other tollbooths Governor Bush highlighted in 1999.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:43 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

You and President "miss-me-yet?" call them toll booths. Democrats and the current POTUS call them "iron curtain" social safety nets. Like their namesake, whether these nets keep citizens inside or out (or both) has no bearing on their egaliatarian "goodness."

Posted by: johngalt at April 25, 2011 2:34 PM

November 22, 2010

Review Corner

I think all ThreeSourcers will enjoy President Bush's Decision Points.

No doubt we differ in our opinion of 43 (who also liked to refer to presidents by ordinal), but Decision Points offers Bush's own view on many of the issues we have beat up on these very pages. You want to hate him for TARP or Medicare Part D, it is certainly your prerogative. I found I could go along with about any of his explanations -- you've heard me make most of them -- but I cannot join him on "when people hurt, government must act." He never questions that. He's essentially a market guy, but lacks Reagan's (and our) skepticism of government. For all of Senator McCain's blather, George W. Bush is the modern day's Theodore Roosevelt. And I do not mean that in the nicest way.

But after two years of his successor, it is hard not to feel nostalgia for his decency, probity, and patriotism. Without saying the present occupant of 1600 Penn lacks these, a few hundred pages of President Bush (and Laura's which I read right before) refreshes because he wears his love of country, freedom and our nation's military on his sleeve.

A mixed bag indeed. Of the 14 chapters, the one I found most difficult to accept was the penultimate on "The Financial Crisis." "Wall Street had a party and we all got the hangover" not only lacks nuance, but also connection to reality. He spins around and expresses cogent thoughts on Fannie and Freddie and comes close to questioning whether Federal largesse should subsidize minority home ownership, but he won't say a word against Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and one is left -- at the very end of the book -- with the thought that he doesn't get it.

I quibble, and you will too. But it is a fun, interesting, and informative read. ThreeSourcers will know the policy but will enjoy the anecdotes. Four solid stars -- plus a quarter for pissing off Jacques Chirac again. One last time.

UPDATE: Shelfari invites users to create "Ridiculously Simplified Synopses." Someone submits:

"Red State: Texas hero arrives in Washington making brilliant decisions that save the world from terrorism."

"Blue State: Texas warmonger water-boards the US into hurricanes and economic doom."

Posted by John Kranz at 3:29 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2010

I Hear You. The Rest of the World Hears You

Keith Hennessey shares his recollections of the President and people he knew:

Nine years ago today President Bush visited Ground Zero in New York City. One lasting image is of the President, standing on a pile of rubble with his hand on the shoulder of a firefighter named Bob Beckwith, talking to the rescue workers with a bullhorn.

Awesome. Hat-tip: Terri

Posted by John Kranz at 8:01 PM | Comments (2)
But AlexC thinks:

That speech, and that moment, still gives me chills to this day.

That's the George Bush I will always remember.

Posted by: AlexC at September 14, 2010 8:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And that's the George Bush that was re-elected in 2004. You know, "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists?" Who knew that even the President's State Department wasn't with us?

Posted by: johngalt at September 15, 2010 2:24 PM

September 3, 2010

Quote of the Day

The media tried to paint Bush as the privileged yuppie, masquerading as the Texas rancher, idly chain-sawing on his spread. But at least Bush went to the Texas outback for vacation and got his hands dirty. Obama’s problem is that Axelrod and Emanuel could not stage a chain-sawing task for Obama if they tried — severe injury would surely follow. -- VDH
Posted by John Kranz at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

September 2, 2010

You Got Belgians Running Europe?

Miss Him Yet?

Posted by John Kranz at 1:46 PM | Comments (1)
But Lisa M thinks:

Oh my God. This made me spray water all over my keyboard when I read it.

Posted by: Lisa M at September 2, 2010 5:59 PM

August 23, 2010

Surprising Jump in Tax Revenues Is Curbing Deficit

According to the NYTimes, the President's policies seem to be working better than expected:

WASHINGTON — An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year, even though spending has climbed sharply because of the war and the cost of [Gulf States] relief.

On Tuesday, White House officials are expected to announce that the tax receipts will be about $250 billion above last year's levels and that the deficit will be about $100 billion less than what they projected six months ago.


You smart kids are way in front of me, aren't you: the date is July 9, 2006. Mister Laffer, Mister Art Laffer, Please call your office!

HT: Insty, showing a startling graph which attributes spending to the Iraq War (Dr. Deepak Lal, please call your office) although Afghanistan seems to be conveniently omitted.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:52 PM | Comments (3)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Before you mentioned the date, I thought, "Geez, $100 billion down, $1.2 trillion to go."

Two years ago, some of us knew what we were in for. We knew we'd look back on "mere" $400 billion deficits as when things weren't so bad.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 23, 2010 2:54 PM
But jk thinks:

Thems was the days, eh!

On a more serious note, the slope of the curve was a lot better back then. Even with war specnding (and A LOT of Republican domestic excesses) it was coming down.

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2010 3:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The graph is indeed startling, and illuminating. This is a good time to mention another idea I briefly discussed with brother and sister KA: That Obama-Reid-Pelosi budgets are so unprecedentedly overblown that a massively expensive entitlement and Social Security reform plan could still cost less.

Dagny and I had just read Milton and Rose Friedman's idea of a negative income tax (below a set income level) that replaces ALL other welfare programs. "Gee, that would slash the budget," thought I. But the point is, no matter what the plan, the silver lining of the Obama spending era may be that substantive entitlement reform could actually be politically feasible in the near future.

Posted by: johngalt at August 24, 2010 12:41 AM

August 13, 2010

Dear Sir McCartney: You're a Git! Love, jk

Sir Paul quipped to President Obama at the Library of Congress show that "after eight years, we are Happy to have a President who knows what a library is."

This cheesed me off for several reasons. Umm, he married a librarian. But more importantly, he really was an avid reader. Michael Powell shares a quote from Perfesser Obama with the Columbia Journalism Review:

'Yeah, you have very little chance to really read. I basically floss my teeth and watch Sports Center.'"

Posted by John Kranz at 2:56 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2009

Stay Classy

Stay Classy, National Mall!

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 3:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2008

Bush On Capitalism

I understand Jesse Jackson is not too big on the 20th Amendment:

"All of that talk of bipartisanship begins now," Jackson said. "And the new president deserves his vision to be implemented immediately."

But I will close the last weeks of his administration with a few kind words and thoughts. Here’s Larry Kudlow, with a laudatory review of W's G-20 speech:
Here’s another uplifting passage from Mr. Bush: “Free-market capitalism is far more than an economic theory. It is the engine of social mobility — the highway to the American Dream. And it is what transformed America from a rugged frontier to the greatest economic power in history — a nation that gave the world the steamboat and the airplane, the computer and the CAT scan, the Internet and the iPod.”

Capping all this off, Bush said, “The triumph of free-market capitalism has been proven across time, geography, culture, and faith. And it would be a terrible mistake to allow a few months of crisis to undermine 60 years of success.”


I don't think that sentiment is shared by the 44th -- or, to be fair, his opponent.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:42 PM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Or the 43rd president. Now only if Dubya practiced what he preached, other than a tax cut? (Tax rebates don't count.)

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 18, 2008 1:38 PM

November 6, 2008

I [Heart] W

He's taken his lumps on these pages, but I have agreed with Jay Nordlinger for some time that we are going to miss President Bush, whoever wins the election. We know now, and I am even more certain.

Terri at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err brings us I Love George W Bush Day. It's full of linkedy goodness, but here's a quote I like from former Speechwriter Michael Gerson:

But that humanity is precisely what I will remember. I have seen President Bush show more loyalty than he has been given, more generosity than he has received. I have seen his buoyancy under the weight of malice and his forgiveness of faithless friends. Again and again, I have seen the natural tug of his pride swiftly overcome by a deeper decency — a decency that is privately engaging and publicly consequential.

I'm guessing that a few ThreeSourcers will not be too anxious to participate in I Love George W. Bush Day, but the Gerson quote sums up an appreciation I will keep that goes beyond politics or polity.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:20 PM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Please send the party invitation, via courier, to The Refugee. While he has had his differences with 'W', (i.e., domestic spending and too much willingness to go-along-to-get-along with Republicans and Democrats alike), The Refugee believes that Bush/Cheney are good and decent people trying to do the right thing. The Refugee would be pleased to accompany either on a hunting trip in their retirement.

Bush/Cheney have been the targets of extraordinary bile and vitriol from the left ("stupid," "worst in history," "stole the election", "illegitimate," "Nazis," "murderers," "dictators", etc. etc.). And this from the people who decry a lack of civility in politics. If the left wants a "new tone" in politics, all they have to do is shut up.

As The Refugee has previously stated, he thinks that McCain's eagerness to throw GWB under the bus, good and bad, was unseemly to voters and simply valided Obama's message. However, there appears to be a genuine animus from McCain toward GWB. On the plus side, the Republicans never have to deal with McCain ever again as a national candidate. He can walk off into the sunset hand-in-hand with Ted Kennedy.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 6, 2008 3:20 PM

June 20, 2008

Tax Cuts For The Rich!

Maybe President Bush really is a moron -- his signature Taxcutsfortherich® have been a complete failure.

Investors' Business Daily

Using 2008 Internal Revenue Service statistics, the 2001 cuts shifted the income tax burden up the economic ladder.

In 2000, the top 1% paid 37.4% of all income taxes vs. 39.4% in 2005. The top 2% went from 56.5% to 60%, the top 10% from 67.3% to 70.3%, the top 25% from 84% to 86%, and the top 50% from 96% to 97%.

tax_rates.gif


Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw

Posted by John Kranz at 5:09 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2008

Quote of the Night

"Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm, and I am pleased to report that the IRS accepts both checks and money orders."

-- George W. Bush, SOTU

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:10 PM | Comments (3)
But AlexC thinks:

Good to hear the President is finally using my material.

I drop that bomb on the "tax cuts for the rich" douchers.

Posted by: AlexC at January 28, 2008 10:42 PM
But Terri thinks:

Looks like I snagged your instalaunche! Thanks.....

Posted by: Terri at January 28, 2008 10:57 PM
But jk thinks:

Maybe I am completely in the bag for this guy, but I thought the speech was very good. I didn't hear any kind words from the TV pundits, but I felt that he put up a credible defense of the tax cuts and the War on Terror. Jay Nordlinger is right -- we will miss this guy.

I'm sure it was lameduckness and not religion, but it was good to hear fewer initiatives.

Posted by: jk at January 29, 2008 11:04 AM

October 26, 2007

Nordlinger on Bush

Jay Nordlinger makes a good point on one of our President's virtues:

Conservatives are down on President Bush, often unreasonably, I believe. I also think they’re a little ungrateful — ungrateful, spoiled, and smug. They will miss him sorely when he’s gone, I feel sure. This is true whether a Republican or a Democrat succeeds him.

One thing they will miss, I predict, is his truth-telling. I don’t believe they realize how rare it is to have a man in the highest office who over and over again tells the truth — boldly and unapologetically. I thought of this, not for the first time, when reading the speech Bush gave about Cuba yesterday. I hope you will want to read it all (here). But let me offer a couple of snippets:

Cuba’s rulers promised individual liberty. Instead they denied their citizens basic rights that the free world takes for granted. In Cuba it is illegal to change jobs, to change houses, to travel abroad, and to read books or magazines without the express approval of the state. It is against the law for more than three Cubans to meet without permission. Neighborhood Watch programs do not look out for criminals. Instead, they monitor their fellow citizens — keeping track of neighbors’ comings and goings, who visits them, and what radio stations they listen to. The sense of community and the simple trust between human beings is gone.

[...]
To say once more: The president has told the truth. He has said things about Cuba that you will never hear from the major university faculties, or the major newspapers, or the major movie studios. And I, for one, will not forget it.

Yes, he spent too much in his first term; yes, he had steel tariffs in place for about two seconds; yes, the prescription-drug benefit is sketchy; yes, there have been mistakes on the war; yes, Harriet Miers — etc., etc. But do you realize how rare this president is? If you don’t now — I have a feeling you will later.


I see some truth tellers in the GOP field. Mayor Giuliani and Senator Thompson seem well qualified to continue truth telling (my leftist friends all call it arrogance). I'm not so sure about Governor Romney.

The President does indeed deserve more points for this than he gets. From Conservatives or Libertarians..

Posted by John Kranz at 12:27 PM

July 20, 2007

Dick!

For a couple hours tomorrow, you can say "President Dick Cheney" and not be wrong.

Jeff Emanuel as an idea.

It's just a thought -- but, via the 25th Amendment, Acting President Cheney would be within his Constitutional bounds to issue a full pardon of his Chief of Staff Scooter Libby tomorrow...wouldn't he?

Just for the piss off potential. I'm in.

Posted by AlexC at 6:24 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Yesssss!

Posted by: jk at July 20, 2007 7:50 PM
But Harrison Bergeron thinks:

Gateway Pundit has a poll.

Posted by: Harrison Bergeron at July 20, 2007 9:19 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I was thinking the same thing last night, jk!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at July 21, 2007 11:52 AM
But jk thinks:

Two hours is just not enough time...

Posted by: jk at July 21, 2007 11:52 AM

July 19, 2007

President Bush: No SCHIP!

President Bush has taken some licks on these pages of late. I offer heartfelt support for his "philosophical" objections to expanding SCIHP. WaPo:

President Bush yesterday rejected entreaties by his Republican allies that he compromise with Democrats on legislation to renew a popular program that provides health coverage to poor children, saying that expanding the program would enlarge the role of the federal government at the expense of private insurance.

The president said he objects on philosophical grounds to a bipartisan Senate proposal to boost the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years. Bush has proposed $5 billion in increased funding and has threatened to veto the Senate compromise and a more costly expansion being contemplated in the House.


GOP legislators are willing to sell any principles they have left at pennies on the dollar and the President is bucking them up. Well done.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:19 AM

July 15, 2007

A Successful Presidency

William Kristol "invites ridicule" on the pages of the WaPo today with a guest editorial titled "Why Bush Will be a Winner." Wow. Give the man contrarian points.

Let's step back from the unnecessary mistakes and the self-inflicted wounds that have characterized the Bush administration. Let's look at the broad forest rather than the often unlovely trees. What do we see? First, no second terrorist attack on U.S. soil -- not something we could have taken for granted. Second, a strong economy -- also something that wasn't inevitable.

And third, and most important, a war in Iraq that has been very difficult, but where -- despite some confusion engendered by an almost meaningless "benchmark" report last week -- we now seem to be on course to a successful outcome.


I'll surprise no one around here by agreeing. He lists accomplishments quite a bit like I did. SCOTUS picks, Tax Cuts, Medicare Part D. On his most visible legislative failures, Kristol asserts "And with respect to the two second-term proposals that failed -- private Social Security accounts and immigration -- I suspect that something similar to what Bush proposed will end up as law over the next several years."

Plucked from the wide ranging philosophical discussion around here of late, I still see it as a win. We were spared four years of President Gore (I just watched "An Inconvenient Truth." Score that as a bullet dodged!), and four years of President Kerry (how would the Court look with two of his picks replacing Rehnquist and O'Connor?)

Even with President Bush's abysmal poll numbers, he does not seem to be dragging down the likely GOP nominees. I'll happily debate whether this administration has been good for the cause of liberty (and I'll happily take the affirmative) but I cannot believe anybody 'round these parts would have been happier if he had lost either election.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:25 PM | Comments (4)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Bush isn't dragging down the GOP nominee because none of them was his VP, Cabinet member, etc. Such an affiliation would doom a candidate before he even got started. The nominees, in their own individual ways, are distancing themselves from Bush and his policies. It should be enough, because Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Romney carry the Republican label but are very different from Bush.

Has the administration been bad for freedom? Absolutely. Economic freedom is my first choice, but it isn't everything. That Bush cut taxes, even significantly, does not excuse everything else. The Patriot Act and NSA wiretapping are outright rape of the Fourth Amendment. Just like FDR's New Deal was only an extention and amplification of Hoover's public works projects, Bush took Clinton's surveillance a step further. Remember, Bush thinks the Constitution is just "a goddamn piece of paper."

And the truly sad part is, the Bush Administration wouldn't have been as bad as Gore's or Kerry's. We deserve better.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 17, 2007 1:00 PM
But jk thinks:

I haven't wanted to rile the FredHeads around here, but I worry that Democrats would most easily tie Senator Thompson to President Bush. Both are Southern Conservatives and have a jocular style. Fair or not, this has been one of my concerns about Thompson. Mayor Giuliani can credibly run as the anti-Bush.

I have not seen the GOP Presidential candidates running away from the President as Congress has. Senator McCain attacked the President on global warming and I think it hurt him. All but Paul are onboard for Iraq. Giuliani praised his SCOTUS picks. I can't remember a lot of anti-Bush rhetoric in the primaries.

Posted by: jk at July 17, 2007 6:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fred will deflect every opportunity to paint him as a Bush clone simply by firing a standard issue one-liner. It'll be hard to make the bumbling simpleton label stick to him because, unlike Bush, he's r-TIK-yew-lat.

Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2007 11:50 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Giuliani has been the one GOP candidate all along who can beat Hillary, or even a Hillary-Obama ticket. With Hillary looking stronger and stronger, a lot of conservatives and liberals are thinking like you, jk, that it's more important to defeat Hillary than get the best GOP candidate. He'd win NY's crucial electoral votes, and he's centrist enough with his pro-choice, lukewarm RKBA stand.

Meanwhile, he's trying to win over the GOP core. He's supporting the conservatives on the SCOTUS, and he's talking very well on real fiscal conservatism, which is about cutting taxes AND spending. The Democrats' notion of "fiscal conservatism" is about hiking taxes anytime they want more programs, like a spend-happy wife who tells her husband to work more overtime so she can go shopping. Giuliani's actually talking a bit like Reagan on taxes, not like Bush 41.

Doesn't mean I like him, but those are his strengths. He's appearing conservative on what matters most to conservatives, with a reputation as "America's Mayor" that evokes 9/11 without linking him to Bush. He's running a good campaign so far.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 20, 2007 11:34 AM

July 2, 2007

No Prison For Libby

Scooter Libby's prison time has been commuted:


President George W. Bush on Monday commuted the 30-month prison sentence handed to Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to vice president Dick Cheney, for lying and obstructing justice.

I do not like this decision. Perhaps Libby's punishment was a little too harsh, but I very much agree with the comments of Orin Kerr:

Nonetheless, I find Bush's action very troubling because of the obvious special treatment Libby received. President Bush has set a remarkable record in the last 6+ years for essentially never exercising his powers to commute sentences or pardon those in jail. His handful of pardons have been almost all symbolic gestures involving cases decades old, sometimes for people who are long dead. Come to think of it, I don't know if Bush has ever actually used his powers to get one single person out of jail even one day early. If there are such cases, they are certainly few and far between. So Libby's treatment was very special indeed.

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 9:40 PM | Comments (5)
But Charlie on the PA Tpk thinks:

The sentence was in response to an alleged cover-up of a non-crime.

For President Bush to pardon Mr. Libby, the latter would have to admit guilt. I was against the notion of a pardon until the appeal played out. If the appeal process goes forward, and Mr. Libby can rightfully acquit the charge, then all is well. If not, then a pardon can be considered.

Will an appeal process continue since the sentence was commuted? Hopefully so, but I have a feeling the courts may let it go by the wayside.

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Tpk at July 3, 2007 4:35 AM
But jk thinks:

I was not lobbying for this as many were, but I was pretty happy to see it.

When a prosecutor oversteps as Fitzgerald did, I think it is good for a President to use his absolute power. The WSJ Ed Page argued pretty cogently to “not leave this soldier behind." Libby was doing the administration’s work prosecuting the war and the prosecution of him was transparently political.

Bush does not have a history of pardons but he does have a history of loyalty and protection of Executive privilege. I'll take this one.

Posted by: jk at July 3, 2007 10:31 AM
But jk thinks:

I posted too soon. The WSJ Ed Page is pissed that a full pardon was not issued.

As the event unfolded, it fell to Mr. Libby to defend the Administration against Mr. Wilson's original charge, with little public assistance or support from the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell or Stephen Hadley.
In no small part because of these profiles in non-courage, it was Mr. Libby who found himself caught up in prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's hunt for the Plame leaker, which he and his masters at Justice knew from Day One to be State Department official Richard Armitage. As Mr. Fitzgerald's obsessive exercise ground forward, Mr. Libby got caught in a perjury net that we continue to believe trapped an innocent man who lost track of what he said, when he said it, and to whom.

Posted by: jk at July 3, 2007 10:38 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

FWIW, I'm glad Bush pardoned Libby. The entire affair was a witch hunt to finding ANYONE within the Bush Administration that may have done some misdeed.

The the libs were going to stage a joyous "FitzMas Party" should have been evidence enough that this was a circle jerk in search of a pivot man.

If anyone should have been convicted in this whole Plame-blame-game, someone should have gone after the editorial board of the NYT!

And remember this: Libby doesn't get off scott-free here. He's still a convicted felon, which means his license to practice law is as good as gone, and he's STILL out a quarter million dollars.


**That's my opinion and you're entitled to it!**

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at July 3, 2007 7:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Watching Libby's demeanor as he shuttled back and forth to court, it always seemed he was confident he'd do OK in the end. Trek is right, of course: Congressional democrats are, have been, and will be until at least the end of his term, out to indict Bush or Cheney or anyone as close as possible to them. Libby is being shrewdly dangled as a partisan piniata. As long as they're busy whacking him, the dems can deflect demands by the nutroots to trump up charges against someone else. It's a stalling tactic.

Commuting the prison sentence and leaving the appeal in motion was the next logical step in the strategy.

It wouldn't surprise me to learn, in some memoir years after Bush 41's administration leaves office, that Libby made misleading statements INTENTIONALLY. (Perhaps I give them too much credit.) Given the opportunity that fell into their lap, however, this is how I would have played it.

Posted by: johngalt at July 4, 2007 11:31 AM

June 20, 2007

Celebrating the Bush Presidency

I'm going to call blogger prerogative and promote a comment thread into a new post. To get the current thread, read this post or this for some superb guest commentary. What started a few posts before as a discussion of the debate contretemps between Rep. Ron Paul and Mayor Rudy Giuliani morphed into a discussion of pragmatism and what might be the great question of politics: in a Madisonian system, how far do you go to seek a candidate you truly agree with and when do you tolerate the lesser of two evils?

The newest turn questions President Bush. Perry Eidelbus parries my defense of W:

Besides, what has Bush done to deserve accolades? Tax cuts, excellent. Private health savings accounts, good. Pushing for Social Security reform, fine. But the rest of his administration has been raping the Constitution, whether it's out-Hitlering Giuliani with the "Patriot" Act, or out-Demming the Democrats with everything from NCLB to the prescription drug bill. Bruce Bartlett calls the latter the worst legislation ever passed, and he could be right.

I’ll be one of the 29% or whatever who will defend this President. I don’t claim he has aligned closely with my beliefs, but several aspects of his administration have been very positive. My list of achievements is longer than yours:

  • You left out the best, my friend: the appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito. Two inspired choices, confirmed.

  • The tax cuts are a massive achievement. The continued defense has been solid (legislatively, I think the rhetoric could be a lot better).

  • Publicly sharing the Senate’s 0-95 vote for Kyoto with the rest of the world.

  • Toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan

  • Toppling Saddam Hussein in Iraq (yup, I still score that as a plus. I’m a Sharanskyite and consider an unstable free society a step up from a stable fear society).

  • Allowing Yassir Arafat’s PA government to fall instead of propping it (and Arafat) up with White House visits, summits, extra aid and diplomacy.

  • Appointing Mark McClellan to the FDA (sadly, too short lived)

  • Appointing Paul Wolfowitz to the World Bank, then Robert Zoellick after the professional thieves chased him out. Even National Review took a break from Bush bashing this week to highlight those two exceptional choices.
  • John Bolton to UN (also, sadly, too short a tenure).

You applaud HSAs and Social Security private accounts then decry NCLB and Medicare Part D. I lump them all into his idea of an “ownership society.” He is willing (too willing perhaps but hang in there) to trade some Federal control or additional spending to infuse a free market incentive structure. This pragmatist imagines that the additional spending and regulation are coming either way. The structure might pay long term benefits.

These accomplishments have come with a narrow Congressional majority, a sharply divided electorate and the most extreme exogenous events that any President since Lincoln has encountered. To return to my Bush vs. Congress argument, I’d say that a braver, more visionary Congressional caucus could have accomplished even more.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:52 PM | Comments (12)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The thing about Miers is that it's just one example of where, as Stephen Bainbridge put it, Bush pissed away the conservative movement. Bush is the ultimate party man, let's face it, who will do anything, try to please anybody, so his party remains in power. It wasn't enough in 2006, and it may not be enough in 2008.

It's bad enough when you piss away your support to woo the middle. It's sheer stupidity to piss away your support and still botch the job so badly that you don't win the middle.

"To deny Bush credit for McClellan because he didn't abolish the FDA is unfair."

But what's happened at the FDA, despite someone supposedly qualified better more than anyone? The same thing. Nothing significant has happened, despite someone who on the surface appears significantly better than his predecessor(s).

As much as I admire John Bolton, and meeting him was a terrific evening, it's the same sort of tilting at windmills: appointing one man alone can't do anything. To change the FDA requires legislation limiting its power, properly restoring it to American individuals. To change the UN requires that the U.S. give it the finger, completely withdraw from it,a nd send dunning notices for the money THEY owe us (and I'm talking about more than parking tickets).

"Likewise, Medicare D. (Terri and) I recognize that subsidizing health care for seniors is wildly popular."

Of course it's popular. I recognize it too, but I further state that it's popular for those on the receiving end, not those who pay for it. I pull no punches and call it what it is: robbing Peter to pay for Paul.

Prison sodomy is popular for at one side, you know.

"Politicians who suggest that it should grow at 9% instead of 11% are accused of raiding granny's purse and are not re-elected. Recognizing that subsidies will be made, isn't it better to buy a bottle of Plavix instead of treating a heart attack?"

You and I know very well that government programs never confine themselves to practical expenditures of money. Now, we have no idea, and no one short of God ever will, that Plavix will have any significant preventitive value now, compared to the cost of a hospital visit later on. As a windfall for pharmaceutical companies, Part D allows them to produce as much as doctors can prescribe. And when the federal government, through Medicare and Medicaid, pays for so many people, why should doctors turn down patients who'll just be given a new prescription?

If you truly support free markets, you'll recognize that the value of an item changes over time. A bottle of a prescription drug today, based on a person's risk of a heart attack later on, could be less or more than the cost of a hospital visit. If the person never has a heart attack, then the drugs were a waste. We won't know, but in a truly free market, each individual can make his own judgment -- just not at the expense of others. Here I go from the economic to the moral argument.

Why should I be compelled to pay for someone else, against my will? People should be motivated to take care of themselves, whether financially, physically or mentally. They should not be motivated to vote for someone who will give them things at the expense of taxpayers. And if it means some heart attack victim will risk dying because he can't afford a hospital, well, he'll have to rely on the charity of others. I certainly won't have charity if it turns out he's some 300-pound walking piece of lard that didn't care about his health, figuring the taxpayers would cover him no matter what.

"Had Bush's plan not been done, do you think we'd have put that money on our pockets? We'd've gotten a Democratic plan that would not include any private insurance."

You are too willing to compromise, specifically about accepting government intervention in your life. I argued once with someone from the Manhattan Institute, which at best is semi-free market. She spoke one night this last March about why the MI supports the $20 billion project to build a major East Side subway corridor in Manhattan. Her stance came down to, "Well, we should spend the money anyway, because we'll be taxed."

As I put it, it's a massive welfare program for Upper East Side liberals to commute down to work, at the expense of state taxpayers (the New York MTA gets, what, $20 billion a year now in subsidies?). I refuse to compromise, I thundered. "We should never have to accept that because 50% of our income will be taxed, we might as well spend it this way or that. We should instead insist on 25%, 10%, and that government cut spending to match. Whatever happened to the Reagan revolution of limited government and low taxes?" I was the only person in the crowd who refused to accept her poppycock, and several after complimented me.

"Also with you on RomneyCare, enough so that I never looked at support the "Governor of the Commonwealth." Interesting to note that Part D produced lower premiums and less spending than was budgeted -- because it was based on free market principles."

There's nothing free market about it, but you did say "based on," which is not the same as functioning like the free market. On the surface it may seem similar, but once government taxes and spending come into play, the free market goes out the window.

Look at long-term costs, not today's. Now answer me, since when has a government program of indeterminate (read: infinite) life *not* grown larger and larger? I've not heard of a single one.

"NCLB is grey. I'm all for local control of the schools. But on this planet, that's not how it works."

The Constitution no longer works, and that's the only thing that counts. NCLB isn't gray at best, it's unconstitutional. None of the Articles specify such powers to the federal government, and the Tenth Amendment clearly reserves unspecified powers to the states and people.

"The AFT and NEA have effectively nationalized the schools. NCLB should not be needed, but the education system is so badly broken, Bush tried to buy accountability with Federal largesse. It's not my favorite but I do see it as part of the ownership society with the tax cuts, HSAs, private Social Security accounts, and Part D."

How is it an "ownership society" to violate the Constitution and give more power to the federal government? An "ownership society," notwithstanding the ludicrous nature of the term, is one where local people take local control of local schools -- not the other way around.

And frankly, I am baffled at how you can consider anything about Part D as part of an "ownership society," when it's merely the redistribution of wealth. But if by that you mean federal control, and begging government to let us do this and that though they're our inherent right to do in the first place, you are correct.

"I would have loved to have you on board to explain Bush's economic policies (instead of your buddy, Bruce Bartlett who failed so miserably but got a nice book deal)."

I've been meaning to post an unbiased review of Bartlett's book. He's not my friend, but Luskin is, and he and Luskin were friends. From what I understand, the book had no small part in them becoming embittered toward each other.

Bartlett said a lot of truth that needed to be said, that under Bush's watch, Congressional spending has gone unchecked at levels unseen since LBJ. Bartlett did say some unfair things, such as Bush's tax cuts not doing anything. Albeit moderate, the capital gains tax cut was critical for domestic investment.

"I have been complaining a lot lately about this administration's inability to articulate. What was cute in 2001 has become a threat to liberty in 2007. I am going to pick a great orator in 2008."

Many missed chances. When Bush and his staff pound on an issue, they did well, but that's a rarity. More often than not, they'd act spineless. Look at what happened to Mankiw when he defended outsourcing.

In Bush's place, I'd have called upon Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong to explain why outsourcing is bad. And if they started, I'd tell them on national TV to stick to the f****** point. Oh yeah, and fire the FCC head if he tried to fine me, since after all what's good for Bono (using it in a "non-sexual" way) ought to be good for anyone else. So vote for me in 2012, "The clear choice against incumbent Hillary."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 22, 2007 4:43 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Actually, Terri, I'm one of the nicest people in person that I see. However, when it comes to discussing economics, politics and religion, I'm ruthless.

I would similarly be ruthless were I in a position to "govern" others: I would govern by not governing, by being completely ruthless in preserving individual freedom.

"I happen to think that a lot of governing involves compromise not only amongst the governing bodies but amongst the people with their government itself."

There's the very problem. People accept "compromise," having been indoctrinated in public schools that wish only to turn out good, complacent citizens. They learn that "compromise" is "practical politics," which is true, but I don't want practical politics. I want righteous government that protects my life, liberty and property, not one that subsidizes my neighbors' lives and property at my expense.

Another problem is that people today think that when government functions by "the consent of the governed," it means majority rule. As the libertarian saying goes, democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding on lunch. Does "consent of the governed" mean "My neighbors consenting to make me pay for them" to you? Or does it mean as the Founding Fathers, the ultimate group of believers in freedom that history ever saw, believed, that it's MY consent to let government do away with MY property for MY benefit, and no one else's property or benefit?

"You jump right into accusing me of wanting to spend your hard earned dollars on me. I'm pretty sure I've avoided you at parties before."

I jumped in because you clearly think the redistribution of wealth is a good thing, and I want to know: are you benefiting on my tax dollars? It's a simple question. And at parties, I do tend to avoid people who I know live their lives courtesy of my money. Why would I want to associate with people who silently mug me?

"The people wanted "free drugs"."

Wrong. SOME people wanted free drugs, at OTHER people's expense.

"This prescription drug bill is a whole lot less of a give away than what you would have seen with someone other than Bush in office. (oh - unless you were there)"

Look again at future projected costs. Have you? I have, and you clearly have not. You need to know what you're talking about before you discuss it. The fact is that this giveaway will dwarf even LBJ's "War on Poverty."

I doubt you were around to see Lincoln's erosion of liberty. I wasn't, yet I don't need to have been "there" to know what happened.

"It's already less than projected."

Why not 10, or 20, or 30? Again, this is a government program of an indeterminate life span. It's going to grow and keep growing.

"Well - shall we go into the basics about being a part of society."

Just because I live near other people does not obligate me to pay for their living.

"I have no children and yet I get to pay for schools, I carry insurance and yet I get to pay for the Katrina disaster, I subsidize the railroads and the airlines and the roads and it goes on and on as you well know."

You shouldn't have to do any of those, don't you understand? Not a single one.

"(Don't bother. I'm sure you think everyone should just cover themselves and school themselves etc. I find a little benefit to having relatively educated people here and knowing there is a safety net in times of disaster)"

It's not anyone's responsibility to ensure others are competent. And btw, we keep expanding public schools yet have more and more idiot students graduating. It looks bad for government schools, you know, so they just dumb down the standards and pass students who shouldn't have been. They also don't kick out troublemakers who disrupt classes. Private schools wouldn't get away with this.

"Life is about choices. And sometimes its the voters who choose for you."

Take a principled stand. Why should others get to decide how to live your life, how to live their lives at your expense? What obligates you?

"The pharmaceutical companies, the left, the right, the hmos and the old folks all contributed to this bill. And frankly it's a good one. Perhaps not to you who would rather live in a cave and not be a part of society, but to many others it's working out. Should we even have medicare at all? Maybe not. But we do."

Of course people love to live at the expense of others. They "contribute" ideas, and I contribute dollars. And you think it's *right*?

"I don't think the money comes out of thin air."

You seem to think so. You also seem to think there's no adverse effect on the economy when government takes tax dollars that would have otherwise been invested or spent on things people deemed more efficient. It's not "efficient" just because your neighbors decide what to do with your money.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 22, 2007 5:01 PM
But jk thinks:

"I compromise too much." That's a fair cop, guv. You'll find plenty of folks around here that will agree with you on that. I'll counter that your don't-give-an-inch does not serve the cause of liberty.

I can't defend Miers's nomination, but in the end it was pulled and Bush's two picks have been stellar. Was it party loyalty? I don't know, I can't think of even a bad reason for that one. Being a Buffy fan, it has to be a spell or some demonic possession. But it wore off and we got Justice Alito.

But I will stand up for the ownership society and Part D. You refuse to admit that it is built on market principles and that is unfair. The rest of Medicare is single payer; part D has private insurers competing for subscribers. As such, it is the one government program that has surprised to the downside both in cost to the government and average premiums to its subscribers.

A future administration might build on those figures to spread market mechanisms into the rest of Medicare. The idea of the ownership society is that these mechanisms function like seed crystals. Over time, they become a larger percentage of the structure and crowd out the collectivist portion. It is a bold attempt and it may not work, but it is disingenuous not to recognize the attempt.

You applauded the try for private Social Security accounts -- that's the exact same thing. Had legislation progressed, there was much talk of increasing benefits to sell it to the Democrats. Were you being a Socialist? Perry was trying to take my money against my will and give it to seniors! What a Communist that Perry is!

McClellan did not last long enough, but there was improvement in his tenure. Fast track approvals for terminal conditions and the Pharma funded faster approval process both happened under his watch. (Sadly, I think he was pulled off to do Part D -- that was a dark day for me).

I got a kick out of your prison sodomy line, but I think you are missing the saddest fact there is. Welfare for seniors is wildly popular beyond those who accept benefits. People like the idea of a safety net for themselves, their parents, and think that it is a component of "a just society."

Nine percent libertarians according to Pew. The other 91% are, sadly, very cool with collectivist, nationalized health care and pensions for the elderly. If you will not admit that, you will not be successful in a Madisonian democracy.

Posted by: jk at June 23, 2007 11:48 AM
But Terri thinks:

Hey a fight at Three Sources and JK IS in it!

And handling my position just fine (and probably better than I).....I think I'll take the day off.

Posted by: Terri at June 24, 2007 9:01 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"I'll counter that your don't-give-an-inch does not serve the cause of liberty."

It does not work today not because it isn't the right thing to do, but because so many people prefer "the tranquility of servitude" and the peace of compromise, being too afraid of the "extreme" of full-blown God-given rights.

We fought for independence because we refused to give in, because real liberty is not won with compromise or "accepting" that certain things cannot be. As a matter of "practical politics" (a phrase I often use), sure, elections aren't won by extreme candidates. But which do you want to win, centrist candidates, or the cause of real liberty?

"Braveheart" had a couple of great lines on how far one is willing to go. The Elder Bruce maintained, "But it is exactly the ability to compromise that makes a man noble." It is easy for people to compromise when their livelihoods are based on power, whether they wield it (politicians) or derive benefits from it (welfare state recipients). When the Princess of Wales offered Wallace the king's bribe, he retorted, "Slaves are made in such ways!"

"But I will stand up for the ownership society and Part D. You refuse to admit that it is built on market principles and that is unfair."

I refuse to admit it because it's patently false. The very fact that government is intervening (i.e. taking money from some people to give to others) means it is NOT free-market. Something can be based on "market principles," but that is NOT the same as a free market where people make purely voluntarily transactions. This is not John Kerry nuance. It's plain fact.

You can keep arguing "ownership society" until you're blue in the face, but it's an absurd phrase while Social Security and Medicare taxes are coerced out of my salary.

"The rest of Medicare is single payer; part D has private insurers competing for subscribers."

Via an infrastructure that government created, thus skewing market forces. Again, not free market.

"As such, it is the one government program that has surprised to the downside both in cost to the government and average premiums to its subscribers."

Which is only so far. People think they can keep credit card under control, too, but how much will they restrain themselves when they're borrowing money in other people's names? Not much.

I will point out for the umpteenth time that even the most conservative estimates show the program has high long-term costs to make Social Security look cheap. Have you ever looked at the full projections? I have.

"A future administration might build on those figures to spread market mechanisms into the rest of Medicare."

Again, it's only the skewing of free market forces. You need to understand the difference between "market forces" that have the appearance of the free market and what is truly the free market.

"The idea of the ownership society is that these mechanisms function like seed crystals. Over time, they become a larger percentage of the structure and crowd out the collectivist portion. It is a bold attempt and it may not work, but it is disingenuous not to recognize the attempt."

That I "recognize" the attempt is a ridiculous demand when the process is just another instance of government intervention. Not recognizing the programs for their proto-socialism IS what is disingenuous.

A real ownership society is one where government butts out and allows people to function on their own. History proves, time and time again, that all the planting of seeds will do is create a larger and larger bureaucracy. Look back to FDR's New Deal, and its constantly failed attempts that kept the U.S. mired in depression. Should we have "recognized the attempt" that he was "pragmatic" in his belief that government needed to "prime the pump"?

"You applauded the try for private Social Security accounts -- that's the exact same thing. Had legislation progressed, there was much talk of increasing benefits to sell it to the Democrats. Were you being a Socialist? Perry was trying to take my money against my will and give it to seniors! What a Communist that Perry is!"

Private accounts are very different from Plan D, because you're using your own money. It's not really free market because the state forces you to save, but you're not being given someone else's money to save. The rest of Social Security is complete socialism, however, just like Plan D. It's a very simple test: is government taking money from someone to give to you?

I support real privatization, namely the abolishment of the whole thing, but I will support private accounts as a first step. It's not enough, but it's legally important: it could force the SCOTUS to recognize people's legitimate claim on what they paid in. You may recall that it ruled otherwise in 1943.

"McClellan did not last long enough, but there was improvement in his tenure. Fast track approvals for terminal conditions and the Pharma funded faster approval process both happened under his watch. (Sadly, I think he was pulled off to do Part D -- that was a dark day for me)."

Which comes down to begging government for permission to do what is our natural right in the first place.

"I got a kick out of your prison sodomy line, but I think you are missing the saddest fact there is. Welfare for seniors is wildly popular beyond those who accept benefits. People like the idea of a safety net for themselves, their parents, and think that it is a component of "a just society." "

Oh, don't think I realize that. Limousine liberals aren't the only ones who feel "good" about coercing others into charity. Liberalism is all about generosity, after all: generosity with other people's money.

"Nine percent libertarians according to Pew. The other 91% are, sadly, very cool with collectivist, nationalized health care and pensions for the elderly. If you will not admit that, you will not be successful in a Madisonian democracy."

It does depend on the question's phrasing. If you ask someone, "Do you believe that people are entitled to the fruits of their labor," they may not realize it's completely at odds with, "Do you believe government should provide a safety net?"

Ask people if they're willing to support Part D to help seniors, then ask them if they're willing to pay massive tax hikes to fund it. Or ask them if they're willing to tax "the top 1% of taxpayers," notwithstanding it's that 1% that provide the business management, savings and investment to create jobs for the rest of us.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 26, 2007 5:58 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I forgot to comment further on Roberts and Alito. I'm not saying Bush nominated a pair of Souters. They're actually not bad, but they've disappointed me with past and present rulings. A while back, Professor Bainbridge had a great entry on why "originalist," "textualist" and "strict constructionist," which are often used interchangeably, are really different. So I really wasn't concerned if they were like Scalia and Thomas, who themselves have disappointed me. I don't care if someone's conservative, libertarian or liberal: my single test is how faithfully he will defend the Constitution.

Originally I said on my blog that Alito would be a good choice, and he could well be in the end, but I have a feeling his dispositions might be a problem for our freedom at some point in the future. For example, his dissent in Doe v. Groody was inexcusable. Granted it was when he was a federal appeals court justice, but it shows he's too willing to give police the benefit of the doubt. As my friend Billy Beck charged, the police are a part of government that has no right of presumptive innocence when charged with wrongdoing, by the very fact that they are pre-authorized to use force on behalf of the people.

Now, getting specific with Roberts, his ruling in Hedgepeth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority was completely inexcusable. That sets the tone for what will happen in the future, I'm afraid. Also, is he consistent? It bothered me during his testimony to the Sente Judiciary Committee that he said he'd be obliged to respect SCOTUS precedent. That doesn't jive at all when he said the Court was correct to rule as it did in Brown v. Board. As you may recall, it was a reversal of Plessy v. Ferguson. So which one does Roberts really believe? Did he say what he did before the committee just to placate abortion litmus test liberals, or will he rule as a matter of convenience for the politics of the president who nominated him?

Pretty good nominees overall, but it's that fraction that may come back to bite us.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 26, 2007 10:36 PM

June 1, 2007

Andrew Sullivan With Better Hair

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

If I may borrow Mr. Jefferson's words, it is time that I dissolve my political bands with Peggy Noonan.

WHEREAS, Ms. Noonan is a gifted writer and is herein recognized as an eloquent voice for the Reagan Wing of the Republican Party,

WHEREAS, Ms, Noonan has written several exceptional books. "What I Saw at the Revolution" being jk's favorite book to explain Republican ideas to moderates, "A Cross, A Heart and a Flag" being a touching look at post-9/11 America, and "The Case Against Hillary Clinton" being perhaps the best book about the Clinton Years and impeachment,

NEVERTHELESS, Ms. Noonan has now completely descended into the overly personal, hectoring style of punditry that she has flirted with for several years. Her elitist views have come further out on display and she has resorted to personal attacks against those with whom she differs.

I introduce into evidence Noonan's column of Friday, June 1, 2007. After berating the White House for "name-calling," she calls then all hacks.

The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.

What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom--a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don't need hacks.


Pundits need not preserve fealty or obeisance to the administration, but the public "I separated with them on this date, because of ..." is too personal, and should be used cautiously because of the ammunition it provides to political opponents.

Ms. Noonan lunches at trendy restaurants with other Manhattenites. Like Sullivan, I do not see it as courageous to stop defending your principles and to assume the views of others in your peer group. This has been a long time coming, but I declare my Independence from the bands of Ms. Noonan. I wish her well.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

As I started reading this I thought for sure the column that led you to "separate with [Noonan] on this date, because of..." was this one.

"We should close our borders. We should do whatever it takes to close them tight and solid. Will that take the Army? Then send the Army. Does it mean building a wall? Then build a wall, but the wall must have doors, which can be opened a little or a lot down the road once we know where we are."

Posted by: johngalt at June 1, 2007 4:15 PM
But jk thinks:

It wasn't just he Stamp Act...

There have been hundreds of columns which disturb me. The one you cite I disagree with but it is honest punditry. She whacks the White House a little hard for my tastes, but she voices an idea I disagree with, with her characteristic eloquence.

The traits that have worn me like running water on stone are her elitism, which disturbed me even as I admired her highly, and a more recent enmity with her opponents that I find to be just like Andrew Sullivan. Pop psychology is not my beat but it seems that both feel betrayed by former allies and have chosen to lash out irrationally.

What also inspired this post -- but it was getting too long already -- was a comparison between Noonan and Kim Strassel. Strassel may not have Noonan's poetry, but she is an exceptional writer. The thesis of the post was almost that the torch was being passed from a now-frequently-unhinged Peggy Noonan to a clear voiced Strassel.

Read Strassel's piece on the immigration. It's cleaner and crisper (and removes stubborn stains from even the most delicate fabrics).

Posted by: jk at June 2, 2007 12:07 PM

December 7, 2006

Medal of Freedom Recipients

Whitehouse.gov

    President George W. Bush today announced the recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation's highest civil award. Established by Executive Order 11085 in 1963, the Medal may be awarded by the President "to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." President Bush will honor these recipients at a White House ceremony on Friday, December 15, 2006.

Among the 10 on the list?

Natan Sharansky

    Natan Sharansky was imprisoned in the gulag by the Soviet regime for his work to advance religious liberty and human rights. He remained steadfast in his defiance of tyranny and has continued to champion the principles that all people deserve to live in freedom and that the advance of liberty is critical to peace and security around the world.

and BB King

    Riley "B.B." King is one of the greatest blues singers and guitarists of all time. For more than half a century, the "King of the Blues" and his guitar "Lucille" have thrilled audiences, influenced generations of guitarists, and helped give the blues its special place in the American musical tradition.

There are eight others, but it's at least a ThreeSources two-fer.

Posted by AlexC at 6:33 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

How can anybody not like this guy? Awesome picks!

Posted by: jk at December 7, 2006 7:26 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Someone's Freudian Slip is showing at the White House:

BB King for a Medal of Freedom? What's he gonna sing, "The Thrill is Gone?"

:)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 7, 2006 8:05 PM
But jk thinks:

David McCullough and Buck O'Neil are top notch choices as well. I would have passed on William Safire and "Underperformin'" Norman Mineta, but it could have been worse.

I would have given Secretary Mineta's to NYSE Chairman Dick Grasso. He did a lot more to get us back after 9/11.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2006 4:23 PM

September 15, 2006

Blaming Bush, Again

MyDD's Chris Bowers looks at George Bush's approval ratings vs the price of gasoline.

    Bush's approval is not up because of his speeches on terrorism, or some other baseless, purely conjectural reason. Bush's approval is up because gas prices are down. This is probably related to releasing part of the strategic reserves this spring, just as in 2004 around election time it was related to making a deal with the Saudis to increase oil production. It didn't stop raining because God stopped peeing. Bush's approval is not up because he is using better talking points in his speeches.

    That gas prices are dropping around election time is no surprise at all. In fact, I predicted it would happen five weeks ago. When a power-mad administration is this marinated in the oil industry, and when it isn't exactly a state secret (except, apparently, for journalists) that Presidential approval has long been tied to the price of gas, of course the Bush administration was going to do something to lower the prices of gas around election time.


I don't think Chris has any idea about the oil supply line and market reaction times.

If releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the spring cuts prices in September, how can Saudi production increases "around election time" have an immediate affect on gas prices? Shouldn't they both be instant? or both delayed?

The post begs the question, why "a power-mad administration this marindated in the oil industry" that has enough control over the price of oil, would allow fuel prices to rise? Why not keep us all fat, dumb and filling our Hummers? It's easier for a President to get his way if he's liked.

But don't sweat the details. According to Mr Bowers, there's no need for concern about the numbers unless the Republicans can gain another three or four points.

He doesn't say what that means, but since we're in conspiracy mode, I think it means that Republicans are in Diebold range.

Update: Incidentally, lest you believe that this is a fringe liberal idea... here's a picture of Chris Bowers meeting with former President Bill Clinton the other day.

Posted by AlexC at 2:59 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

I disagree AlexC. We're not quite in Diebold range yet and I think we'll have to keep African-Americans from voting.

Posted by: jk at September 15, 2006 3:20 PM

August 30, 2006

The Shame of General Powell

Just when you thought l'Affaire Plame could not get any stranger, Michael "Spikey" Isikoff and The Nation's David Corn release a book with the miscreants finally identified. Whodunit? The State Department.

Thankfully, Christopher Hitchens and the Wall Street Journal have read the book so you don't have to. Hitch casually mentions that

What does emerge from Hubris is further confirmation of what we knew all along: the extraordinary venom of the interdepartmental rivalry that has characterized this administration. In particular, the bureaucracy at the State Department and the CIA appear to have used the indiscretion of Armitage to revenge themselves on the "neoconservatives" who had been advocating the removal of Saddam Hussein. Armitage identified himself to Colin Powell as Novak's source before the Fitzgerald inquiry had even been set on foot. The whole thing could—and should—have ended right there. But now read this and rub your eyes: William Howard Taft, the State Department's lawyer who had been told about Armitage (and who had passed on the name to the Justice Department)
also felt obligated to inform White House counsel Alberto Gonzales. But Powell and his aides feared the White House would then leak that Armitage had been Novak's source—possibly to embarrass State Department officials who had been unenthusiastic about Bush's Iraq policy. So Taft told Gonzales the bare minimum: that the State Department had passed some information about the case to Justice. He didn't mention Armitage. Taft asked if Gonzales wanted to know the details. The president's lawyer, playing the case by the book, said no, and Taft told him nothing more.

Corn himself, Hitch reminds us, had portrayed the affair a little differently:
The Wilson smear was a thuggish act. Bush and his crew abused and misused intelligence to make their case for war. Now there is evidence Bushies used classified information and put the nation's counter-proliferation efforts at risk merely to settle a score. It is a sign that with this gang politics trumps national security.

The Wall Street Journal Ed page, even less a friend to the Powell State Department points out the mendacity and insubordination of the President's cabinet.
At a minimum, there appears to be a serious question of disloyalty here. By keeping silent, Messrs. Powell and Armitage let the President take political heat for the case, while also letting Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby and other White House officials twist in the wind for more than two years. We also know that it was the folks in Mr. Powell's shop--including his former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson and intelligence officer Carl Ford Jr.--who did so much to trash John Bolton's nomination to be Ambassador to the U.N. in 2005. The State Department clique that Mr. Bush tolerated for so long did tremendous damage to his Administration.

As for Justice, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the case in an act of political abdication. That left then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey in charge, and he also presumably knew about Mr. Armitage's role as the leaker who started it all. Yet if the book's account is correct, he too misled the White House with his silence. Mr. Comey is also the official who let Mr. Fitzgerald alter his mandate from its initial find-the-leaker charge to the obstruction and perjury raps against Mr. Libby that are all this case has come down to. Remind us never to get in a foxhole with either Mr. Comey or the Powell crowd.


I enjoyed Colin Powell's autobiography and have total respect for his service to country. I've always considered him a McCain-type guy who appreciates accolades from Washington society a little more than his principles.

This episode, however, places him in a different light. He sat back and watched the administration suffer a PR nightmare and key staff be subjected to expensive and grueling legal troubles. Secretary Powell was clearly out of line here. My respect has held up through many things, but not this. He is just another unprincipled politician walking the streets of our nation's capital. More disappointing that he knows the importance of freedom yet will not fight for it.

UPDATE: Investors Business Daily (Hat-tip: Insty) has some harsh words for Prosecutor Fitzgerald:

But it's hard to see anything but politics as the motivation for Fitzgerald's handling of the Plame affair. The facts indicate that Fitzgerald knew early on that the original leaker was State Department official Richard Armitage. So why did Fitzgerald let a cloud hang over White House adviser Karl Rove's head for so long? And why is Fitzgerald continuing to hound Libby, the former vice presidential chief of staff?

The answer seems to be that Armitage, who is charged with nothing and brags that he hasn't even consulted a lawyer, was former Secretary of State Colin Powell's right-hand man and a critic of pre-emptive war in Iraq. Libby, on the other hand, was an architect of that war strategy. Do doves get a pass in Fitzgerald's book, while hawks get an indictment?


Posted by John Kranz at 12:20 PM

June 13, 2006

Bush in Iraq

President Bush is/was in Iraq today.

No "fake turkeys" were served.

I wonder how many rehashes of the fake turkey story will be written by the commentariat in the next few days.

Posted by AlexC at 5:24 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The WSJ Ed page says:

"This message reminds American GIs that they're fighting in a noble cause with support on the home front. It tells the terrorists that they aren't close to the political victory they seek of driving the Coalition out of Iraq. It tells the Iraqi people that they can afford to take a risk and join the police or assist the new government with more confidence that the terrorists won't be able to exact revenge. And it gives the Maliki government more political and military options as it considers how to restore order to Baghdad, among other dangerous places."

Posted by: jk at June 14, 2006 10:08 AM

May 15, 2006

The President's Speech

I had the President's speech on, but really can't say I was riveted.

But my friend Dr Rick @ the American Checkup paid attention.

Here's what he says...

    Though I am an ardent supporter of President Bush I feel that he could have taken a more brazen position and challenged Congress to secure the borders immediatly with troops and fences. His approval would surely be catapulted into more popular opinion rather than the 29th percentile where he's recently found refuge. His base would have renewed faith in a President re-elected to pass his agenda which he has been less than stellar in furthering.

    This was truly a missed opportunity in some regards and an employment of appropriate measures in others. The President surely didn't compromise his already lack luster appeal. But he didn't capitalize on a tremendous opportunity either.


Hugh Hewitt says...
    President Bush did exactly what he had to do tonight: Hit the middle, agreeing to the fence, to a large increase in Border Patrol personnel and funding, tamper-proof identification, National Guard back-up of ICE for at least a year, the end of catch-and-release, blunt talk on the impossibility of mass deportation, an insistence on English, and a commitment to a guest worker program that will take pressure off enforcement by funneling large numbers of immigrant workers into the legal line.

In related news, CNN ran Bush's rehearsal "mistakenly."

Posted by AlexC at 9:26 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

I was riveted. I thought it was pitch perfect and that it will launch the GOP immigration win I have been looking for.

No, the enforcement-only folks are not pleased. Rep Tancredo was on Bill O'Reilly's show right after the speech. Of course he's not happy. (Though he made O'Reilly look sane and measured, everybody has a purpose in life).

Exigencies dictate that a lot of folks are not going to get exactly what they want. Compromise legislation is frequently weak and, well, compromised. The opportunity here for a good, comprehensive reform is very good.

I will gladly accept more stringent border security than I'd choose, I'd like to see some of the enforcement-only crowd accept victory-plus as well.

The President's enforcement plan is superb: National Guard troops to back up the Border Patrol while they recruit and train new staff; technology over militarization; employer enforcement without betting the whole program on it; tools to help employers comply; and guest worker program and citizenship path to allow enough workers to keep the economy going.

I give the President an A+. The grace note at the end of the young Marine and his respectful tone toward all immigrants was just right as well.

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2006 10:53 PM

April 29, 2006

Soak the Rich

So much for tax cuts for the rich.

    [N]ew IRS statistics on the taxes Americans pay show that George Bush's tax policies actually soak the rich.

    It turns out that the income tax burden has substantially shifted onto the wealthy. The percentage of federal income taxes paid by those who make more than $200,000 a year has actually risen from 41% to 47% in recent years.

    In other words, the richest 3 out of 100 Americans are now paying close to the same amount in income taxes as the other 97% of workers combined.

    It's also a common myth that the rich are hording all the wealth, while the middle class stays stuck in economic quicksand.

    The IRS data show that the share of all income earned by the wealthiest 10% of Americans has actually fallen since 2001. The rich are earning less of the total income but paying more of the total taxes.

    During this economic expansion, the middle class is growing and becoming more prosperous. About 4 out of 10 Americans now make more than $50,000 a year -- that's up from 3 out of 10 in 1990.

    There's more good news. Tax revenues over the past two years are up more than half a trillion dollars — the largest two-year increase in tax collections in history.

    Bush cut the capital gains and dividend taxes, but guess what? Now those tax receipts are through the roof in the last two years.


Laffer curve, we meet again.

Posted by AlexC at 11:37 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Yet despite the PROOF that tax these specific tax cuts are good for the economy, Democrats will demagogue when Republicans try to make them permanent.

Posted by: johngalt at April 30, 2006 10:16 AM
But jk thinks:

Amen, brother jg. Sadly they are ably aided and abetted by the Republicans who lack the wisdom or the will to fight for a win.

Posted by: jk at April 30, 2006 3:49 PM
But dagny thinks:

It is not lack of will or wisdom (although I agree that most politicians are sadly lacking those) that causes this problem but lack of a coherent consistent philosophy on which to base decisions.

Posted by: dagny at May 1, 2006 2:21 PM
But jk thinks:

May 1. 2006. Write that day down. Dagny and I agree COMPLETELY.

People consistently say they reject ideologues in politics, yet how can you anticipate a person's future votes if you cannot identify a guiding belief system? At the base of it, that is my gripe with the current congressional GOP (and frequently the President).

We elect REPUBLICANS to scuttle the Dubai ports deal, demand hearings of oil price gouging, and ponder sending everybody (who's not rich) a $100 gas tax rebate check. Then they whiff on extending the tax cuts. Gimme some ideologies!

Posted by: jk at May 1, 2006 3:59 PM

February 16, 2006

He really doesn't look like a chimp...

James Taranto has an interesting post today responding to a blogger who thinks that conservatives are smearing their opponents with the word "liberal." It's a good piece and goes beyond my description.

One comment really hit home for me:

To some extent, too, the pro-Bush sentiment on the right that so upsets Greenwald is a product of the anti-Bush fanaticism of the left. There is a sort of Newton's Third Law of politics, which was at work during the previous administration as well. People on the left who reviled Bill Clinton's policies in such areas as trade, welfare and capital punishment nonetheless backed him, and supported him fervently when Congress impeached him.
For most conservatives, Bush is not perfect but he is far better than the alternatives that were on offer in 2000 and 2004. Those on the left who look at the right and see blind loyalty for the most part are actually viewing a reflection of their own blind hate.

I certainly feel that way frequently. Perhaps less around here, where we frequently take a whack at the current administration.

But out in polite society, I feel it my job to defend President Bush -- in many ways because his attackers are so strident. Politics.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:24 PM

June 28, 2005

Good Speech

I don't know whether it won any converts but I thought the president did well tonight.[Speech text]

Don't forget to visit the www.americasupportsyou.mil website to support the troops.

My wife and I are so proud of you, your mission, and the great job you do.

We have a great life in this country, thanks to your courage, professionalism and dedication. Never forget our support. We will never forget your service!


Posted by John Kranz at 9:36 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"After September 11, 2001, I told the American people that the road ahead would be difficult — and that we would prevail. Well, it has been difficult. And we are prevailing. Our enemies are brutal — but they are no match for the United States of America — and they are no match for the men and women of the United States military."

The President's voice crackled with emotion as he recited the closing line of the preceeding quote, praising our troops. Compare that to POTUS 42's lip-biting as he feigns to "feel our pain."

Posted by: johngalt at June 29, 2005 1:16 AM

June 13, 2005

Tax Cuts Work

The Laffer Curve works.

President Bush's "tax cuts for the rich" have boosted Federal Revenue more than 15%. Lower tax rates get more revenue. Freedom pays for itself sometimes, if you let it.

The WSJ Ed page gives props to Art Laffer and his napkin illustration that launched Reaganomics and the Bush cuts in Real Tax Cuts Have Curves

Now we have overpowering confirming evidence from the Bush tax cuts of May 2003. The jewel of the Bush economic plan was the reduction in tax rates on dividends from 39.6% to 15% and on capital gains from 20% to 15%. These sharp cuts in the double tax on capital investment were intended to reverse the 2000-01 stock market crash, which had liquidated some $6 trillion in American household wealth, and to inspire a revival in business capital investment, which had also collapsed during the recession. The tax cuts were narrowly enacted despite the usual indignant primal screams from the greed and envy lobby about "tax cuts for the super rich."

Of course, our beloved legislators have just increased spending to compensate -- but that is another story and another problem.

Making the tax cuts permanent may be the most important issue under consideration today. Too many in both houses still think that you have to "pay" for tax cuts.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:30 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Someone is "paying" for the tax cuts alright - the taxpayers. Why is it that tax cuts only have to be offset by spending cuts BEFORE the cuts are enacted? Never mind... don't answer that.

Posted by: johngalt at June 14, 2005 1:10 AM

May 18, 2005

Ouch!

I've been pretty kind to the President of late -- it's time for "equal time."

Seriously, I was very impressed with the Russian trip (as was Natan Sharansky -- did you catch him on Kudlow & Co.?) but it is hard to argue with Perfesser Reynolds

[...]but this seems to me to be a purely political fight, and one I'm not terribly interested in. If I thought that Bush were likely to nominate actual small-government strict constructionists to the Supreme Court, perhaps I'd care more, but I've seen no sign that he's likely to do that.

Ouch, indeed!

Posted by John Kranz at 5:40 PM

May 10, 2005

Georgia On His Mind

Sorry to be so in the pocket of a politician, but this President continues to impress with his brave stands for freedom, and what Sharansky called "moral clarity."

Gateway Pundit sez

George and Laura Bush were treated like rock stars in the fledgling democracy of Georgia today. And, George gave one of his amazing speeches to the people of this former Soviet State.

Follow the link for pictures and quotes. This is an incredible trip. And -- I have to say -- would not have happed with Secretary of State Powell.

Let Freedom Reign!

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 1:24 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

A comment from the Gateway Pundit site:

"Denes, Hungary said...
I am from Europe, and I am strong supporter of President Bush.

Bush has many friends here in Easter Europe. Those of us who remembers oppression and value freedom, feel a special bond to Bush.

Thank you, Mr. Bush! You have a special place in all our hearts."

--

Few value liberty as much as one who has scarcely known it. -JG

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2005 3:10 PM

May 7, 2005

The Soul 6f Sharansky

His wife might be the comedienne, but President Bush bas got some serious stones, saying:

"We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations, appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability. We have learned our lesson; no one's liberty is expendable. In the long run, our security and true stability depend on the freedom of others."

Bush singled out the 1945 Yalta agreement signed by Roosevelt in a speech opening a four-day trip focused on Monday's celebration in Moscow of the 60th anniversary of Nazi Germany's defeat.


So...FDR gave away too much at Malta -- the emperor has no clothes -- the President this President has finally said it.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:57 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

It is refreshing to see a principled, philosophical President. And even more so when his first principle is individual freedom. A whole lotta shortcomings can be overlooked when lumped in with just this one virtue.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2005 10:26 AM
But jk thinks:

Yup. Steel tariffs seem pretty small in comparison...

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2005 10:32 PM

April 20, 2005

TNR Bashes Bush

Hold the presses. A Democrat magazine has a beef with a GOP President!

But wait -- I agree. TNR charges that the Bush administration cannot be trusted to put free trade over politics.

It would be one thing if Bush were acting to protect a growth industry. But domestic textile manufacturing has been on the wane for decades--not only because of competition from abroad, but because, as textile industry CEO Gary Heiman wrote in The Washington Post earlier this month, "American textile companies didn't discard failed business models and evolve when they had a chance." Unlike other sectors, the textile industry has been slow to invest in research and development and switch to higher-end products, in which it might hold a competitive advantage. Thus a supposedly principled conservative administration is willing to go to the mat for an industry that has proved unwilling to keep up with the rest of the economy. Bush has often espoused a God-helps-those-who-help-themselves economic philosophy. But, apparently, he's not above giving an undeserved handout to those who can help him politically.

The trade deficit, or as the WSJ Ed Page calls it "The Capital Surplus," will continue to scare average Americans who do not understand comparative advantage. Will W and GOP Senators stick to principles or bow to political pressure?

Yup. Smoot-Hawley II

Hat-tip: The Corner

Posted by John Kranz at 5:17 PM

March 31, 2005

Giving W his Due

If George W. Bush were to discover a cure for cancer, his critics would denounce him for having done it unilaterally, without adequate consultation, with a crude disregard for the sensibilities of others. He pursued his goal obstinately, they would say, without filtering his thoughts through the medical research establishment. And he didn't share his research with competing labs and thus caused resentment among other scientists who didn't have the resources or the bold--perhaps even somewhat reckless--instincts to pursue the task as he did. And he completely ignored the World Health Organization, showing his contempt for international institutions. Anyway, a cure for cancer is all fine and nice, but what about aids?
Weekly Standard? National Review? A new Ann Coulter Column? Nope Martin Peretz's The Politics of Churlishness in TNR. Subtitled "Giving George W. Bush his due on Democracy."

I don't know if it gets better from there, but it holds the tone throughout:

So the situation is certainly complex. But complexity is not a warrant for despair. The significant fact is that Bush's obsession with the democratization of the region is working. Have Democrats begun to wonder how it came to pass that this noble cause became the work of Republicans? They should wonder if they care to regain power. They should recall that Clinton (and the sanctimonious Jimmy Carter even more so) had absolutely no interest in trying to modify the harsh political character of the Arab world. What they aspired to do was to mollify the dictators--to prefer the furthering of the peace process to the furthering of the conditions that make peace possible. The Democrats were the ones who were always elevating Arafat. He was at the very center of their road map. After he stalked out of a meeting room in Paris during cease-fire talks in late 2000, Albright actually ran in breathless pursuit to lure him back. It was the Democrats who perpetuated Arafat's demonic sway over the Palestinians, and it was the Democrats who sustained him among the other Arabs. And so the cause of Arab democracy was left for the Republicans to pursue. After September 11, the cause became a matter also of U.S. national security.
[...]
It has been heartening, in recent months, to watch some Democratic senators searching for ways out of the politics of churlishness. Some liberals appear to have understood that history is moving swiftly and in a good direction, and that history has no time for their old and mistaken suspicion of American power in the service of American values. One does not have to admire a lot about George W. Bush to admire what he has so far wrought. One need only be a thoughtful American with an interest in proliferating liberalism around the world. And, if liberals are unwilling to proliferate liberalism, then conservatives will. Rarely has there been a sweeter irony.

Strong medicine for the Democrats again from TNR. Will they take it or will they hide the pills in the drawer?

Posted by John Kranz at 7:48 PM

February 9, 2005

W's Book Club

I read Sharansky's "The Case for Democracy" because I had heard how much the President had enjoyed it and believed in its content.

The WSJ Ed Page today gives us two more titles on the Presidential book list (paid site, sorry!): Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton, and the surprise entry of Tom Wolfe's "I Am Charlotte Simmons." While many are stunned by the last pick, my buddies at Dow Jones (and I) defend it:

Our reaction is a little different. For starters, it's hard to credit the idea that Mr. Bush is a cretin when Mr. Wolfe is a favorite author. On the contrary, both men have succeeded largely because they are in touch with the kinds of cultural currents the liberal establishment rarely notices (or considers beneath notice). Mr. Wolfe himself noted just before the election that "I would vote for Bush if for no other reason than to be at the airport waving off all the people who say they are going to London if he wins again."

I'm holding my head high because I have read and enjoyed each of these. I am learning just enough history after a life of ignoring it to become intrigued with a specific period. The rise of factionalism and party politics over Jefferson's two terms is full of interesting characters like Jefferson, Hamilton, Burr, George Clinton, &c. But it is also the time when the ideals of the revolution were put into pragmatic application.
And the Wolfe book is important because it is popular. Zeitgeist is a pretentious word even for a pedantic buffoon like me, but Wolfe has captured it in the 80'2 with Bonfire, the 90's with "Man in Full," and now the 00's.

Lastly, I am not claiming that the President is an intellectual, but I think it is time for those who claim that he is not intellectually curious to tame their attacks a bit. So, I'll just sit around and wait for that to happen...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:51 AM