Back in the old days reading the Sunday New York Times was almost a religious ritual. It was like praying at the Church of the Liberal Pieties.
Today, when you open the Sunday Times opinion pages to read at the line-up of liberal columnists, you feel like you have suddenly come upon a bunch of superannuated thinkers, a meeting of the over-the-hill gang.
Maybe there’s something about modern leftist politics that stifles serious thought, but Thomas Friedman, Maureen Dowd and Nicholas Kristof have nothing to say any more and they don’t even say it well.
Tom Friedman seems unwilling to do his own research so he echoes Democratic Party boilerplate about the Republican convention.
His big new idea: lunar exploration, or something like it… a big, bold idea… the likes of which Friedman has not had since the Kennedy administration.
It is not a bad idea to give the nation a new mission, a new sense of purpose.
Yet, before blaming the Republicans for not wanting to meet Friedman on the moon, the columnist might have noticed that the Obama administration is far more likely to spend money on women’s jobs than on something as phallic as launching rockets into space.
When you think of big scientific and construction projects, keep in mind that the environmental wing of the Democratic Party is trying to sue us back to the Stone Age.
The Obama campaign will tout the fact that it has created new jobs in health care, hospitality and education… all fields that are dominated by women. It does not much care about all the jobs it could have spurred by having a pro-growth energy policy.
In the meantime Maureen Dowd channels her eighth grade self and declares that Republicans are a bunch of meanies.
If she doesn’t up her game I predict that she will soon be retired.
Then the hapless Nicholas Kristof informs his readers that Republicans are opposed to abortion rights. Can you imagine that anyone who reads Kristof does not know that Obama has made a campaign issue out of the supposed Republican war against women?
Naturally, Kristof has no interest in the differences of opinion within the Republican ranks or the nuances that inform these views.
If a columnist does not tell you something you did not know or provide you with a new way to analyze the information you possess he or she has descended to the level of political hack.
For that reason it was refreshing to read George Will’s column in the Washington Post this morning.
Will begins by fact-checking, in detail, one of Obama’s campaign promises:
After a delusional proclamation — General Motors “has come roaring back” — Obama said: “Now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.” We have been warned.
Obama’s supposed rescue of “the auto industry” — note the definite article, “the” — is a pedal on the political organ he pumps energetically in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and elsewhere. Concerning which:
He intervened to succor one of two of the U.S. auto industries. One, located in the South and elsewhere, does not have a long history of subservience to the United Auto Workers and for that reason has not needed Obama’s ministrations. He showered public money on two of three parts of the mostly Northern auto industry, the one long entangled with the UAW. He socialized the losses of GM and Chrysler. Ford was not a mendicant because it was not mismanaged.
Today, “I am GM, hear me roar” is again losing market share, and its stock, of which taxpayers own 26 percent, was trading Thursday morning at $21, below the $33 price our investor in chief paid for it and below the $53 price it would have to reach to enable taxpayers to recover the entire $49.5 billion bailout. Roaring GM’s growth is in China.
Of course, Will is a Republican. Yet, he does not rely on campaign rhetoric and slogans. He analyzes Obama’s statement by offering the facts about the “rescue” of the automobile industry.
Will’s theme today is what has happened to modern liberal thinking. He begins with the fact that liberals today are no longer willing to call themselves liberals. They label themselves progressives.
The point has been made in the past. If I don’t miss my guess, it has been made on this blog.
Will is right to say that jettisoning the word “liberal” showed respect for the language. Today's liberals are really not liberal.
In Will’s words:
Jettisoning the label “liberal” was an act not just of self-preservation, considering the damage liberals had done to the word, but also of semantic candor: The noble liberal tradition was about liberty — from oppressive kings, established churches and aristocracies.
Unfortunately, the replacement-term, progressive, has increasingly become a misnomer.
Speaking of misnomers, progressives have gotten themselves involved in other forms of verbal deceit. The most obvious example: they no longer talk about spending money; they prefer the notion of infrastructure investments.
The substitution of “invest” for “spend” (e.g., “We must invest more in food stamps,” and in this and that) is prudent but risky. People think there has been quite enough of (in Mitt Romney’s words) “throwing more borrowed money at bad ideas.” But should progressives call attention to their record as investors of other people’s money (GM, Solyndra, etc.)?
Ironically, the Republican nominee for president is a master investor while Barack Obama has failed as an investor.
More importantly, today’s progressives are really what I would call regressives, or reactionaries.
Will waxes slightly nostalgic for the time when Bill Clinton looked fearlessly into the future and promised to end welfare as we know it.
Clinton did not fear the future, but today’s so-called progressive are peddling fear. They are saying, Will reports, that a Romney/Ryan administration will end Medicare as we know it.
As it happens, and as Erskine Bowles freely admitted, the Ryan budget and the Republican plans to reform entitlement spending are far more bold and audacious than the plan to put a man on the moon.
It will be lot more difficult to make progress reforming entitlement spending than it was to rally the nation toward space travel. No one had to sacrifice anything to go to the moon.