Friday, September 27, 2013

What's Wrong with this Headline?

What’s wrong with this headline?

In this week’s New York Magazine the headline above Frank Rich’s essay reads: It’s Hard to Hate Rand Paul.

The subheading reads:

The junior senator from Kentucky would be an appalling right-wing president, and yet he is a valuable politician: a man of conviction, and a visitation from a post-Obama political future.

Let’s stipulate that writers do not always write their own headlines. Be that as it may, New York Magazine seems to believe that intelligent, sophisticated, deep-thinking New Yorkers need to know who to hate. They do not form their political views on policy analysis, not on deliberation, not on reflection… but on raw hate.

And I thought it was bad to hate. Don’t we have laws against hate crimes? What happened to civility?

Apparently, New Yorkers do not need to engage in civil dialogue with Republicans. It suffices to hate them.

Frank Rich knows his audience. Apparently, he believes that they are most comfortable with their political beliefs when they can hate their opponents.

Beyond that, the Rich profile of Rand Paul is interesting and fairly even-handed.
On Rand Paul’s response to the White House’s bumbling of Syria policy, Rich writes:

…after a chaotic week of White House feints and fumbles accompanied by vamping and vacillation among leaders in both parties, the odd duck from Kentucky emerged as an anchor of principle, the signal amid the noise.

Naturally, Rich raises alarms about the horrors that would befall “the majority of Americans” by a Paul presidency.

A Paul presidency would be a misfortune for the majority of Americans who would be devastated by his regime of minimalist government. But as we begin to imagine a post-Obama national politics where the Democratic presidential front-runners may be of Social Security age and the Republicans lack a presumptive leader or a coherent path forward, he can hardly be dismissed. Nature abhors a vacuum, and Paul doesn’t hide his ambitions to fill it.

One assumes that Rich is saying that a “majority” of Americans depends so thoroughly on maximalist government that it would be devastated by cutbacks on government programs.

Isn’t there something strange about the idea that a “majority” of Americans depends on government? 

For the record, and in the interest of being fair and balanced, a large number of Americans are also suffering from the anemic Obama recovery.

The Economist, hardly an Obama-hating rag explained it this week:

IN THE early 1980s the distressing persistence of high unemployment in Europe was labelled “Eurosclerosis”. Some now wonder whether “Amerisclerosis” is the right word to describe America’s labour market. It is true that unemployment has slowly dropped from a peak of 10% in late 2009, to 7.3% at present. But this decline overstates the health of the jobs market.

The labour-force participation rate, the share of the working-age population either working or looking for work, has plunged from 66% in 2007 to 63.2% in August, a 35-year low. If those people who have simply dropped out of the labour force were classified as unemployed, the headline jobless rate would be much higher.

This drop in the participation rate is striking by international standards, too. Among 34 (mainly rich-country) OECD countries, only in Ireland and Iceland did participation rates fall farther between 2007 and 2012. In Italy and Britain, where unemployment rates have risen by a roughly similar amount as in America, labour-force participation rose ….

If a Republican administration produced a less than pathetic economic recovery perhaps a “majority” of Americans would not have to rely on government assistance.

Still, Frank Rich is intrigued by Rand Paul. All things considered, it’s a step forward:

This leaves Paul—for the moment at least—a man with a future. If in the end he and his ideas are too out-there to be a majority taste anytime soon, he is nonetheless performing an invaluable service. Whatever else may come from it, his speedy rise illuminates just how big an opening there might be for other independent and iconoclastic politicians willing to challenge the sclerosis of both parties in the post-Obama age.

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

Frank knows his audience. As does NYM.