washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Much of the content, on economic policies at least, of the Republican candidates’ debate in Dearborn (not Detroit, as I misrepresented it earlier today) this afternoon would have sounded perfectly normal twenty years ago. Lowering taxes, reducing regulations, and cutting public spending (in the abstract) are the eternal, divinely-established rules for growing the economy. Entitlement programs are out of control. Relentless optimism is America’s greatest economic asset. If you substitute “China” for “Japan,” even the hand-wringing of Hunter and Tancredo about trade sounded perfectly familiar. And Ron Paul’s lectures about monetary policy sounded a lot like those of Jack Kemp back in the day.
The one candidate who might have taken the debate in a different direction was Mike Huckabee, who likes to talk about economic inequality (not that he proposes to do anything about it other than a highly regressive national sales tax). But he was virtually ignored by the questioners for much of the debate, and then he strangely delivered his rap on pay disparities in the form of a warning to Republicans that people might resort to joining unions! (He also flubbed a chance to distinguish himself from the field on S-CHIP by refusing to say whether he would have vetoed the bill in Congress).
But beyond economic policy, the most alarming segment of the debate was the candidates’ answers to the question about whether a president should seek congressional authorization for military action against Iraq. With the obvious exception of Ron Paul, and the partial exception of Fred Thompson (who at least, by mentioning the War Powers Act, seemed to recognize there are some legal restrictions of executive military powers), the candidates all treated congressional authorization of military action as purely a matter of political expediency. Mitt Romney appeared to dismiss the constitutional issues by saying he’d “refer it to the lawyers.”
They are giving us all fair warning, folks.

2 comments on “Anachronisms

  1. Keith Roberts on

    My most serious issue with the Republican debate is that these candidates don’t seem to inhabit the same country or the same century that my friends and I do. Political discourse, during my forty-odd adult years, generally addressed “the public interest.” No matter how stupid or selfish the policy really was, its sponsors tried to justify it as contributing to the general welfare of our society, and if they could not make such a case the policy was often rejected. The “public interest” has no meaning for these Republican candidates today. Instead, they seem to be imitating the old, failed Democratic approach of cobbling together a bunch of special interests. I suppose that, since I despise their views, I should be happy to see them adopt such a bad strategy. But since elections can turn on anything, down to the fate of a butterfly over the south Pacific, their approach is rather terrifying.

  2. Tiparillo on

    Wow – that comment by Romney should disqualify him from being a dogcatcher.
    Its ironic that the seriously loony Paul – ever looked at his web site? – sounds so clear headed on Iraq and war.
    I didn’t see the debate, but I take it from reports that Thompson actually did well – and at least he ackowledged that Congress has some role before the country goes to war.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.