William Katz: Urgent Agenda
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FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2008
Posted at 7:03 p.m. ET
There have been a number of stories about Republicans sniping at each other over their anticipated defeat on election day. You can find a typical one here, at The Politico.
There's nothing unusual about this. When parties go down to defeat, no one wants to take the blame, so party activists blame each other. Republicans went at it pretty intensely in the 1970s, leading the party to issue what came to be called "the 11th Commandment" - "thou shalt not speak ill of any other Republican."
The eleventh Commandment did some good, but did not entirely stop the bloodletting. Please recall that, even at the 1980 convention that nominated Ronald Reagan, the party was divided. Some in the GOP establishment had serious doubts about Reagan, and urged him to select former President Gerald R. Ford as his running mate, assuring voters that there'd be a "joint presidency." It was a ridiculous idea, and, of course, never flew. But Reagan did, with party unity in mind, select George H.W. Bush, a man with whom he shared little ideology.
The Democrats, of course, have an even more vivid history of civil war. In 1948, with Harry S. Truman running a desperate campaign to hang onto the presidency, the party split. The Southern wing, angered over civil-rights rumblings, walked off and ran Strom Thurmond against Truman. The far-left wing, in a huff over anti-Communism, similarly departed, and ran former Vice President Henry A. Wallace for president on the Progressive ticket. In subsequent years the Southerners kept drifting away, but the left returned, making the party what it is today.
The split among Democrats cost the party the presidency in 1968, when enough Democrats, angered by Vietnam, stayed home on election day to allow Richard M. Nixon to win by a narrow margin.
So don't be shocked by the internecine warfare. The idea, though, is to do what Reagan did - spend the time in the wilderness developing a coherent, powerful and workable alternative to failed liberalism. And it's equally important to identify and nurture the candidates who can bring that alternative to power.
A final note: Some of the greatest leaders in our history have been brutally ridiculed. Ridicule is often a sign of fear in the heart of the perpetrator. If you lack a winning argument, just ridicule the opposition. Never write off those who, like Sarah Palin now, and Ronald Reagan earlier, become targets of sneering and ridicule. They often are the very ones who are poised for greatness.
October 24, 2008. Permalink
"But, if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then sold the aluminum cans for recycling, you would have received $214.
"Based on the above, and given the state of today's financial world, the best current investment plan is to drink heavily and recycle. It's called the 401-KEG.
"A recent study found that the average American walks about 900 miles a year. Another study found that Americans drink, on average, 22 gallons of alcohol a year. That means that, on average, Americans get about 41 miles to the gallon.
"Makes you proud to be an American!"
UPDATE AT 9:43 A.M. ET: Dow is now down 451.
Posted at 8:34 a.m. ET
Peter Robinson, who was a speechwriter for President Reagan, paints a clear picture of what we have in store for us if, as they say, present polling trends continue. His is one of several articles I've seen in the last few days, each well written, that doesn't hesitate to show deep concern for what is ahead. Writing in Forbes, and reflecting the words and ideas of the great Thomas Sowell, Robinson says:
And the result of this?
And on foreign policy?
No mincing of the vocabulary there.
It is rare, though, to find discussions like this in the mass media, which is far more interested in Sarah Palin's clothing allowance or any signs of John McCain's age. Had the facts been explained to the American people, or even hinted at, it's quite possible we'd be going in a different political direction.
October 24, 2008. Permalink
Posted at 7:26 a.m. ET
I attended a fine talk last night by Herbert London, president of the Hudson Institute and professor emeritus at New York University. He's just written a brief and utterly readable book called "America's Secular Challenge, The Rise of a New National Religion," which I commend to you. (You can click on the Amazon link at the top of our right-hand column to order, should you wish.)
London, a prominent social critic, is concerned about the rise of secularism in America, and the historic challenge it poses to the traditional notion of a country founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic. Part of that challenge, and one that worries London greatly, is the tearing down of the idea of American exceptionalism, the belief that our values and dreams are in fact exceptional, and an inspiration to the world.
Herb London made the point that, during the Tiananmen Square riots in China in 1989, the protesters constructed a model, not of Marx or Lenin, or the Eiffel Tower, but a model of the Statue of Liberty. Of course, America's "intellectual" classes scoffed, or pretended not to notice, but the image cannot be denied.
And so London worries about Barack Obama, who seems to accept the idea of a secular society pretty much on a par with other societies, and London notes that, during his recent Berlin speech, Obama proclaimed himself a citizen of the world. But he's not running for president of the world. He's running for president of the United States. We wonder how he will see his own country as he sits in the Oval Office during a crisis, or a conflict with a dictatorship. The evidence thus far is less than encouraging. We hope for a positive surprise.
October 23, 2008. Permalink
UPDATE AT 7:01 A.M. ET: Zogby, who may or may not use sound methodology, has Obama up 10 this morning, a decline from 12 yesterday.
COMMENT: The aim is to raise oil prices...for us. Let's always remember who our friends are, and aren't, if those in Washington being paid off by the Saudi lobby allow us to remember.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2008
Posted at 11:58 p.m. ET
The polls are bizarre. Some show Obama with a double-digit lead. Others show the race tightening. I have no idea which is right. An informed source told me this evening that people at Republican National Committee headquarters are gloomy, and believe that the double-digit figure is accurate. This, of course, may be spin, a way to lower expectations and whip the troops into action. On the other hand, it may be an accurate reflection of internal polling.
Charles Krauthammer feels that this is the time for conservatives to stand fast. His argument:
I especially like the part about the state dinners. I've argued many times that the party-invitation mentality is a powerful force in politics, one not to be underestimated.
You mean, the saint acted in an unsaintly way? Take this columnist's name. Report him.
I wish the McCain campaign had the literary skill to put it that way.
Well said. Well reasoned. I hope America listens.
October 23, 2008. Permalink
COMMENT: Some of these results are more encouraging than the ones out earlier today. But we have less than two weeks. If the "big lead" polls are correct, McCain is probably out of it. But if the "small lead" polls, less than a five-point deficit, are right, he has a shot. He's got to fight.
COMMENT: McCain is running out of time. The election is a week from Tuesday. The race normally tightens toward the end. If some polls are to be believed, this one is widening. Colin Powell's cynical endorsement of Obama may have had the desired impact.
Posted at 8:10 a.m. ET
There has been ample grumbling from the tut-tutting left about "hate" in the McCain campaign. Victor Davis Hanson alluded to the charge in the piece below. But now James Kirchick, an assistant editor at the liberal New Republic, joins a small but growing number of writers on the left who are clearly disgusted at the self-righteousness and double standards of some of their amigos. Writing in The New York Daily News, he says:
It's heartening to see that some on the left recognize that.
There's an old saying in show business: You're responsible to your audience. You're never responsible for your audience.
I'm so glad someone is bringing this out.
Wonderful, wonderful. One of the characteristics of the left, of course, is the tendency to accuse others of the very tactics they use themselves. They will, on college campuses, shout down speakers and bar others from visiting. But if you dare criticize them, they accuse you of "censorship." They will host the worst hatemongers, allies of Louis Farrakhan. But if you raise questions, you're accused of racism. It's an old tactic, worn thin.
Kirsten Powers spoke out yesterday. Now this column. There are sane voices in the liberal camp. We have that small ray of light.
October 23, 2008. Permalink
Posted at 7:13 a.m. ET
Victor Davis Hanson has become one of the most important conservative voices in the years since the 9-11 attacks, in large part because he's a perceptive historian. He says that not since 1976 have the American people been so eager for a political shakeup.
And that is remarkable. Many people seem to read into Obama what they wish - not the best way to pick a president.
Oh, silly. Colin Powell says this isn't important. And Colin Powell is always right, isn't he? Isn't he? Okay, he was wrong on WMD in Iraq and opposed Reagan's "tear down this wall" speech. But other times? I'll move on.
Hmm. Do we have to answer that?
Not exactly in the democratic - small "d" - tradition, was it?
Don't confuse us with complicated and relevant questions. The press doesn't. So why should a historian?
If you appear to be skeptical of Obama, any charge against you will do. And the media will go along. They'll even make the charge. Anything to bask in the halo of The One.
Pretty chilling, ay?
October 23, 2008. Permalink
COMMENT: There are several other polls that have Obama in this territory, although that figure for independent voters seems way out of line. The Powell endorsement may, for some absurd reason, have had an effect. We await the other trackers, out later today.
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THE CURRENT QUESTION
Last week we asked:
What can John McCain do to address the economic crisis in ways that will turn his campaign around?
You can view the answers here.
What is Sarah Palin's future in the Republican Party?
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