Friday, December 9

Shorter David Brooks: I Agree With Everything I Hate About The Republican Party. And Vice-Versa.

David Brooks, "The Gingrich Tragedy". December 8

TAKE my lunch money. Please:
Of all the major Republicans, the one who comes closest to my worldview is Newt Gingrich. Despite his erratically shifting views and odd phases, he continually returns to this core political refrain: He talks about using government in energetic but limited ways to increase growth, dynamism and social mobility.

In other words, you and Newt belong to that shrunken subset of Republican operatives who still believe it's necessary to come up with rational-sounding arguments in order to win over independent voters. Whereas the rest of the party, with good reason, settled on the irrational-outburst-with-the-emotional-content-of-a-junior-high-slumber-party-discussion method fifteen or twenty years ago.
As he said in 2007, “It’s not a point of view libertarians would embrace, but I am more in the Alexander Hamilton-Teddy Roosevelt tradition of conservatism. I recognize that there are times when you need government to help spur private enterprise and economic development.”

Y'know, bullshit. In 2007 the party was so far gone it was taking advice from Ross Douthat. And while it certainly has more than its complement of economic fire-eating snake-handlers--and whose fault is that?--they get to act that way secure in the knowledge that the party itself--and its Democratic doppelgänger--will vote every advantage to "growth, dynamism, and social mobility", aka "corporate welfare".
Look at American history, Gingrich continued,

The hell with that. Let's look at faux-American history. Stick with what ya know.
“The government provided railroad land grants to encourage widespread adoption of what was then the most modern form of transportation to develop our country. The Homestead Act essentially gave away land to those willing to live on it and develop it. We used what were in effect public-private partnerships to bring telephone service and electricity to every community in our nation. All of these are examples of government bringing about public purposes without creating massive taxpayer-funded bureaucracies.”

Well, one, it's easy to make a profit without creating much of a bureaucracy when 1) it's the 19th century and 2) you've stolen the underlying asset and put its rightful owners in internment camps. Just as it's easy to praise a program when you have no intention of looking at any negative aspects, which, in the case of the Homestead Act, was massive fraud, including corporate theft of public lands, all of it unaddressed (because there was no bureaucracy to keep people honest), and, in the case of land grants to railroad barons, was a public giveaway of hundreds of thousands of acres which were then resold for private profit, if they weren't used to blackmail localities first.

But, hey, good examples, Professor Gingrich. It's not like you get any more accurate as we approach the 20th century, unless we take "what were in effect" to mean "the following is mostly bullshit". The "public" portion of the "public-private partnership" in the development of telephone communications basically consists of the government giving Bell the right to a monopoly, for the sake of rational development (because, prior to that, unfettered capitalism had been hindered by inconvenient state laws). As for rural electrification, the government did, essentially, bribe private electric companies to provide service to rural users, which the Perfect Market was refusing to do to that point. It'd be nice if you'd acknowledge that that's some sort of evidence that your "hands off the private sector, except to give it a needed leg up" routine is, well, debatable. Or if you'd acknowledge that it was in fact accomplished as part of the biggest, most hated taxpayer-funded bureaucracy of all, the New Deal.
This was not one of Gingrich’s passing fads. It is one of the most consistent themes of his career. His 1984 book, “Window of Opportunity,” is a broadside against what he calls the “laissez-faire” conservatism — the idea that government should just get out of the way so the market can flourish. As he wrote, “The opportunity society calls not for a laissez-faire society in which the economic world is a neutral jungle of purely random individual behavior, but for forceful government intervention on behalf of growth and opportunity.”

Would that by the same 1984 book, Window of Opportunity, in which he says that "government actions, generally, are a threat to everyday life"? C'mon, Dave; the man's given us four decades of evidence about his ideas on public-private partnerships. From each side. And they both stink.
Over the years, this approach has led Gingrich to support cap-and-trade energy legislation to combat global warming. It has led him to endorse universal health care coverage. It has led him to support humane immigration reform. He enthusiastically backed Jack Kemp’s efforts to fight poverty, the precursors to compassionate conservatism.

We live in wondrous times, all right.
Though his ideas stray, his most common theme is that government should intervene in crucial ways to create a dynamic, decentralized, low-tax society.

1) Build trough. 2) Fill trough. 3) Avert your gaze from trough. 4) After a suitable time, turn back and declare the existence of a couple of enormous porkers validates your system.
So why am I not more excited by the Gingrich surge?

Oh, because, yet again, Dave, the purest expression of your "principles" come from the mouths of imbeciles (although this one's semi-literate, which is at least a step up) and you don't like how it reflects on you.
In the first place, Gingrich loves government more than I do. He has no Hayekian modesty to restrain his faith in statist endeavor. For example, he has called for “a massive new program to build a permanent lunar colony to exploit the Moon’s resources.” He has suggested that “a mirror system in space could provide the light equivalent of many full moons so that there would be no need for nighttime lighting of the highways.”

I’m for national greatness conservatism, but this is a little too great.
Yknow, Dave, let's flip some cards over here, one of 'em being the Ad Hominem card. It's one thing for someone who was indoctrinated by the Church from the age of blastocyst to be in denial about The Great Altar Boy Buggery Cover Up; it's another for someone who supposedly had a Road to Damascus conversion when struck by Milton Friedman. It never, ever occurs to you that it's always your side which talks like this? You don't hear Democrats, or not the stereotypical Democrat you're fond of, pledging rockets to Venus and Space Defense Shields, and The Solution to All Our Energy Worries Is Right Offshore, do you? No. High speed rail and windfarms and strict emissions standards, maybe, if you catch 'em with the wind at their back, which is not a position most Democrats feel comfortable with anyway. No, indeed; Democrats at least have the decency to sound like they want to put average Joes and Jolenes to work doing something other than killing brown people, and then sell everybody out under the table. Why, in other words, do you persist in Republican idolatry? Those aren't the actions of an someone whose "conversion" happened after the age of majority. Barack Obama is going to give you everything you'd get from Newt Gingrich while appearing sane, if by "appearing sane" you include "making any number of decisions which would be wholly inexplicable in a man who truly had the convictions he claims."
Furthermore, he has an unconservative faith in his own innocence. The crossroads where government meets enterprise can be an exciting crossroads. It can also be a corrupt crossroads. It requires moral rectitude to separate public service from private gain. Gingrich was perfectly content to belly up to the Freddie Mac trough and then invent a Hamiltonian rational to justify his own greed.

So he's a Republican. Or a Democrat. And, sure, a particularly ham-fisted one, which is appropriate in the nation's most porcine politico. It's not like "right-wing sinecure" isn't on your resume.
Then there is his rhetorical style. He seems to have understood that a moderate Republican like himself can win so long as he adopts a bombastic style when taking on the liberal elites. Most people just want somebody who can articulate their hatreds, and Gingrich is demagogically happy to play the role.

C'mon, David. I know you don't really want to know about the 60s, or the 70s, but Gingrich is simply the fattest little piggy at the Post-States'-Rights trough. This is where "Newt Gingrich, Futurist" comes from. He's of an age where he saw that Ol' Jim Crow wasn't gonna fly anymore, and what was needed was a new sort of Snake Oil salesman. He may have truly believed that overt racism was dead, a decade or so before the rest of the Republican excuse-mongers caught up with the idea, but he's never quite given up the idea that it had its good points.
I’d make a slightly similar point more rudely. In the two main Republican contenders, we have one man, Romney, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1950s, and another, Gingrich, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1960s. He has every negative character trait that conservatives associate with ’60s excess: narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance. He just has those traits in Republican form.

I gotta tell ya, I really can't hear this enough. It's like theological arguments about dancing angels and pinheads, proof positive of the absolute pathology of anyone who claims transcendent truth. Narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance are supposed to describe "conservatives"' opponents?
As nearly everyone who has ever worked with him knows, he would severely damage conservatism and the Republican Party if nominated. He would severely damage the Hamilton-Theodore Roosevelt strain in American life.

That's you, and who else? Dear God, Ronald Reagan destroyed, for all fucking time, the notion of Republican fiscal responsibility, Republican intellectualism, and Republican intellectual honesty. And look where we are now.
But how you believe something is as important as what you believe. It doesn’t matter if a person shares your overall philosophy. If that person doesn’t have the right temperament and character, stay away.

Yeah. Find a convenient cocoon.


crosspalms said...

I didn't know there was a spectrum on which Newt qualifed as a moderate Republican. Interesting. Maybe it's on the dark side of the moon.

Scott said...

Maybe it's on the dark side of the moon.

That's why we need those space mirrors!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Our liberal-biased media in ackshun.

R. Porrofatto said...

Geez this is pathetic. You get the feeling that Bobo's fingers must be blistered from sticking all those pins in his Cheri Daniels doll. He's gone and he's not coming back, Davy. Get over it.

Dean Booth said...

Funny thing, the Homestead Act and the Transcontinental Railroad Act (not to mention the income tax and the Land Grant Colleges Act) were passed only after the Southerners had seceded.

KWillow said...

Of all the major Republicans, the one who comes closest to my worldview is Newt Gingrich.

World view? Do grifters have a world view, other than thinking everyone else is a chump and a mark?

bob_is_boring said...

"Gingrich Space Mirrors" is totally the name of my new prog rock band. Or its first album; I'll decide later.

jackd said...

he has an unconservative faith in his own innocence

Interesting. I can immediately recognize the form, but creating other entries is trickier than it looks:

"He has an unpriestly way of molesting altar boys"

"He has an unchristian distrust of other faiths"

"He has an unlibertarian devotion to his unearned advantages"

jackd said...

Not that any of the above apply to Newt Gingrich. Necessarily.