THE last couple days I've been trying desperately to catch or keep up with political news while expending the minimum effort possible, which sounds like I'm auditioning for a slot on local news, but is actually due to Spring Break and Other Obligations. So I have absolutely no excuse for having clicked over to Slate.
Spitzer, you probably know, has made his post-Public Disgrace career on Telling It Like It Is, the Disgracee's secular version of the Finding Jesus ploy, which, similarly, tends to raise the question What Was Holding You Back When You Were On The Taxpayer's Dime? But Truth Telling is such a seller's market at this point we'll snort whatever's offered, no matter how many times it's been stepped on. Nothing new for a seasoned campaigner like myself, and I'm ready to embrace anything even remotely critical of the Mitch "Friend of the Taxpayer" Daniels partial funding of this bit of political street mime. But then we get this:
There are several aspects of this lawsuit that deserve more attention. First, the attorneys' actions represent a last-gasp effort to retain a remnant of the Reagan revolution. The congressional and executive branches of the federal government have squarely turned away from the Reagan worldview of a minimalist government. Expansive new federal statutes, or sweeping new powers granted to executive agencies, already have or are about to redefine the health care, financial services, environmental, educational, and energy sectors. Having lost in the overtly political and democratic branches of government, opponents of health care reform are turning to the one remaining branch of government—the courts.
Now, Spitzer is what we might call an early Reagantot: he's twenty when the Great Prevaricator takes the Oath, a whiz-kid at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School; by the time the Iran/Contra and S&L scandals cap eight years of insane tax policy, income disparity, ballooning budgets, and incontinently-funded military fetishism--or what Norman Podhoretz says we all agree now was "Greatness"--Spitzer has his J.D. from Hahvahd, is working for the Manhattan DA, and appears to've set his sights on a political career. And yet he describes the Reagan "revolution" as the "belief" in "minimal" government.
Is there any hope, whatsoever, or is it best just to write all these people off and pray for Sense to come unexpectedly into fashion? It's one fucking thing when Douthat blames the Free Love 70s (!) for corrupting young Catholic seminarians; it's quite another when someone who presumably paid attention in college, and who has every reason to expose, if not denigrate, the Reagan legacy instead starts gumming that "Revolution" porridge. Jesus, it doesn't require a newly-retrendified belief in Big Gubmint to believe in things like proper regulation of commerce, progressive income tax, or the wisdom, ethics, and self-interest of a social safety net; it takes an ideology based on a self-absorption approaching clinical levels to oppose them under any and all circumstances. If Warren Buffett made a point of tossing an unwanted sandwich into a furnace rather than give it to a starving man, he'd be rightly considered an enemy of mankind. How is it that Republicans are instead considered "people with a different philosophy of governing"? It would be one thing if they'd propose, enacted, or even maintained balanced budgets when they've held the power. But they did precisely the opposite. The question isn't "Whose governing principles?" It's "Why aren't all these fuckers in prison?"
*Oscar Levant's reply to Bernard Herrmann, who asked Levant how he'd handle the first four bars of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.