Jon Stewart, The Mitch Daniels Interview. September 21
OKAY, so there ain't much to be said for the Extended Mix over the broadcast version. Not a big surprise, because Daniels has one answer, and isn't used to hearing the question it goes with.
That's his schtick, and that's the response to President Mitch Daniels? He's 62 years old, and he talks like a fairly bright high-school senior who thinks he's twice as bright as he is. And once again, this is the result of forty years, now, of American "conservatives" talking only to themselves. The thirty-years-and-counting disaster Capital-R Reagan Republicanism has wrought on Americans of Less Than Independent Wealth--thirty years of precisely his policies--lies behind the man like a tornado-blasted trailer park, and he talks This Way to Prosperity, Folks! Sure, the man is a professional liar, so it can be tough to know exactly where the line is drawn between open-mouthed credulity and sheer horseshit. (I know Jon Stewart doesn't want to hear me talking like that. Conversely, I don't want to hear Jon Stewart apologizing for lumping Mitch Daniels in with the rest of America's Pirate Class just because Daniels objects. For that matter, I don't need to hear Stewart say that "everyone basically agrees" that we have to slash "entitlements" during a fifteen-minute discussion of the Deficit which never once mentions Defense spending. We're not going to achieve national unity--assuming anybody wants to--when you can't even believe the things that come out of some people's mouths.)
Somebody at Hoover, or Hudson, or Heritage, gave Mitch his one talking point: that revenue actually increased after the Bush Tax Cuts, relative to GDP; this, not surprisingly, turns out to depend on who's counting and where they choose to start and stop, and what they choose to ignore in the interim. Tax revenues were higher in the 1990s (again, relative to GDP) than they were in the Naughts. Isn't that the end of the argument? And those tax cuts were supposed to make the GDP zoom, which…lemme look that up…they didn't. So tax cutting benefits from its own lyin' incompetence. Much like Mitch Daniels.
(In fact, revenues have plummeted every time we've enacted this miracle cure, to the extent that the new argument seems to be that Tax Cuts don't claim to increase revenues, just increase the amount of money in rich people's pockets. Thanks for clearing that up.)
Wasn't Me Who Said That! and I Don't Know How You Got that Impression! That's Daniels' Defense, too, and you can't really fault him much since, as a Republican, he's never been required to play any his adult life. He told Stewart twice that Jon was talkin' to the wrong man. Daniels, it turns out, is fully in favor of revenue enhancement. He's just metaphysically certain that none of it should come from wealthy people. Dunno how anybody misses the distinction. (I kept waiting for Stewart to push it to the point that Daniels would say, "Hell, I raised sales taxes 17%!")
This is Daniels' sole claim to "moderation", and for the life of me I can't figure out why it works. He makes amorphous statements about guaranteeing a social net for young Americans, and no one ever mentions that we have that now and that the one risk to it is Republicans with a gutting knife. He gets to pretend that "wanting to make it more economical for companies to hire Americans" doesn't mean "the working class takes it in the shorts". He gets to slip in a line about Regulation without anyone saying "You mean environmental safety and public health, right?" The "compromises" Mitch Daniels talks about--and they're all supposed to lead to the enactment of his high-school Randian vision, by the way--are the sort currently on offer from the House Republicans. Easy to be conciliatory when you get to have your way.
Where Stewart was ready for him--the Bush Tax Cuts contribution to the Deficit, the continued White Fluffy Cloud Land of the Top One Percenters--Daniels just ignored him and plowed ahead with the Randian Immoral Certitudes. We need to strengthen the Middle Class by giving it the opportunity for Advancement! This is like asking a bald man about hair tonic, or a Bush about the price of milk. The Middle Class--what's left of it--by and large prefers to stay Middle Class. It wants good jobs, decent schools, and hi-def flat screens. Striking It Rich is a silly, and an acknowledgedly silly, dream. The real constituency for The Continued Ability To Advance Ownself is the Wealthy, who know they'll stand to rake in 65% of whatever hits the table.
Stewart did a pretty good job, apart from all the apologizing. True, I had a vested interest in this one, whereas the Poor Wife and I usually skip his political interviews altogether and head straight for Colbert. I hope America--or at least that part of it I have any hope left for--truly appreciated the President it didn't get.