In just the first 30 minutes of the debate, we’ve had the candidates falling over each other to demonize what’s left of the sensible wing of the Republican party – people like Chris Dodd and Ben Bernanke. We’ve had Rick Santorum propose a 0% tax rate. And we’ve had Newt Gingrich come out with a passionate tirade against statistics. What we haven’t had is any kind of substantive debate. Either between the candidates, or between the moderators and the candidates. This has been a series of set pieces, where questions are not answered and set-piece speeches are always preferred to anything which directly addresses the subject at hand.
Most of the answers in this debate have come from an ideological cloud-cuckoo land, where we can start from scratch and create a brand-new Utopian fiscal and monetary policy simply by dint of having been elected president. Mitt Romney and John Huntsman have given hints that they live in the real world (albeit a real world where Milton Friedman can be risen from the grave), but in general this is a debate where the impossible is being fed to the fanatical, and those of us unlikely to vote in a Republican primary – including Charlie Rose and the rest of the questioners – are being studiously ignored.
Ari Fleischer thinks that this is “a wonky debate”; he’s wrong. Wonks deal in reality; these candidates are dealing in ideology. Which actually tells us nothing about how they would actually govern if elected president.
Joe Nocera attacks the WSJ today:
Within five months, Murdoch had fired the editor and installed his close friend Robert Thomson, fresh from a stint Fox-ifying The Times of London. The new publisher was Leslie Hinton, former boss of the division that published Murdoch’s British newspapers, including The News of the World…
Murdoch’s media outlets must shill for his business interests…
The dwindling handful of great journalists who remain at the paper — Mark Maremont, Alan Murray and Alix Freedman among them — must be hanging their heads in shame.
But Joe’s not on Twitter, so he didn’t see this, yesterday:
Turns out that Murray is as much of a shill as anybody else at the WSJ. This doesn’t look to me like somebody hanging his head in shame.
“Spend less money, create more jobs” is the kind of world one normally finds only in Woody Allen movies, and it’s a profoundly unserious stance for any politician to take. Spending cuts, whether they’re implemented by the public sector or the private sector, are never going to create jobs. And there’s simply no magical ju-jitsu whereby government spending cuts get reversed and amplified, becoming larger private-sector spending increases.
Boehner’s rhetoric, here, is a cynical play on our nation’s economic illiteracy. But the jobs crisis is far too big and too important to become a tactical political football. Now more than ever, it’s the job of government to come together and to do something constructive to create high-quality, long-term employment. Fast. Instead, the House majority is giving us aggressively harmful stupidity. Today’s a bad day in the annals of job statistics. But it’s equally bad in the annals of public service.
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