Tag: Peggy Noonan

Thatcher vs. Hillary

 Som bekendt er en af denne punditokrats favorit-klummeskribenter Peggy Noonan.  Hendes seneste Wall Street Journal klumme er en sammenligning af Margaret Thatcher og Hillary Clinton, og den begynder sådan:

The story as I was told it is that in the early years of her prime ministership, Margaret Thatcher held a meeting with her aides and staff, all of whom were dominated by her, even awed. When it was over she invited her cabinet chiefs to join her at dinner in a nearby restaurant. They went, arrayed themselves around the table, jockeyed for her attention. A young waiter came and asked if they’d like to hear the specials. Mrs. Thatcher said, “I will have beef.”

Yes, said the waiter. “And the vegetables?”

“They will have beef too.”

Og lidt af sammenligningen af de to kvinder:

A word on toughness. Mrs. Clinton is certainly tough, to the point of hard. But toughness should have a purpose. In Mrs. Thatcher’s case, its purpose was to push through a program she thought would make life better in her country. Mrs. Clinton’s toughness seems to have no purpose beyond the personal accrual of power. What will she do with the power? Still unclear. It happens to be unclear in the case of several candidates, but with Mrs. Clinton there is a unique chasm between the ferocity and the purpose of the ferocity. There is something deeply unattractive in this, and it would be equally so if she were a man.

Læs resten her.

Sommerferielæsning

Hermed et par korte noter om bøger, jeg har bestilt fra Amazon, og som jeg håber at kunne få sat tænderne i, når jeg snarligt prøver et hidtil ukendt eksperiment for Homo Stressus: Jeg sætter auto-reply på e-mailen, leverer mobilen til reparation/update og melder mig så iøvrigt helt og aldeles ud af samfundet (inkl. denne blog) i adskillige uger.

Jeg har bestilt:

  • Peggy Noonan: Why I Am Still A Conservative (2007). Læsere af denne blog ved, at jeg synes, at Noonan er en ret fantastisk tale- og klummeskriver, og denne bog er vistnok en Reaganistas f***-finger lige i hovedet på GOP og Bush-administrationen. Desværre bliver Amazon ved med at flytte udgivelsesdatoen, så jeg ved ikke, om jeg faktisk når at få den inden ferien.
  • Robert Novak: The Prince of Darkness (2007): Min gode ven, Politiken-journalisten og bibel-bloggeren Marcus Rubin, har engang kaldt mig “Mørkets Fyrste”, og selvom jeg egentlig ikke er helt sikker på, at det var ment som en kompliment, så tog jeg det faktisk ganske stolt som sådan, for Marcus er en af de få danskere, der ved, at dette er øge-/kælenavnet for en af de bedste amerikanske, konservative journalister/kommentatorer, Robert Novak–og at denne er én, som jeg faktisk godt kan lide. Novak–som jeg første gang bemærkede primo 1990erne, da han var med-vært på CNN’s “Crossfire”–har nu begået en bog om sine 50 år som journalist, herunder en politisk odysse fra venstrefløjen til … ja, der et sted, hvor nogle af os slår vore folder. Novak–der har været meget kritisk overfor Irak-krigen–er vel nærmest en slags paleo-konservativ med et undertiden kraftigt libertært islæt–om end han for postmoderne læsere vil være mere kendt for sin ikke-rolle i den såkaldte Plame-affære .
  • Jeg har på det seneste fået genopfrisket en historisk interesse for “The Glorious Revolution” (1688), som jo med en vis ret kan stå som en af de vigtigste politiske begivenheder i den vestlige verdens nyere historie (bemærk hvor jeg lægger snittet for “nyere” …). Jeg er derfor ved at kæmpe mig gennem Edward Greggs biografi af den dansk-gifte Dronning Anne (der var datter af kong James II & VII, som hun og søsteren Mary var med til at afsætte i en sammensværgelse, der bl.a. involverede John Locke og andre liberale Whigs)–og den kan jeg ikke anbefale: Meget seriøs og meget kedelig. Til gengæld ser jeg frem til at skulle læse den velskrivende og seriøse amerikanske konservative journalist Michael Barones bog, Our First Revolution (2007), som prøver at vise, hvor meget amerikanerne (og europæerne) lod sig inspirere af John Locke m.fl.
  •  Med mig skal jeg også have den formidable, libertære satiriker P.J. O’Rourkes nye bog om Adam Smith, On the Wealth of Nations (2006). Jeg købte den allerede for et halvt år siden, men har simpelthen ikke haft tid til at læse den endnu. Årsag? Jeg elsker P.J., men efter at have bladret lidt i den, har jeg på fornemmelsen, at den ikke er helt så sjov, som de fleste af hans andre bøger (særligt de ældre). På den anden side er manden gudsbenådet, og når man selv har skrevet en bog om Smith, er det vel nærmest obligatorisk (og fradragsberettiget?).

Hvad skal vore læsere læse?

The Boys from Pointe du Hoc

Denne Punditokrat er en gammel sentimentalist, og jeg kan godt lide mindedage–mestendels de glade og symbolsk højstemte. Jeg bliver glad, når de markeres, og ærgerlig når de glemmes–og forbandet på mig selv, når jeg f.eks. glemmer at tænde lys i vinduet 4. maj.

I den forbindelse tænkte jeg i dag en del over, at jeg (der i disse dage befinder mig i smukke Cambridge) reelt havde overset, at det i går var Grundlovsdag derhjemme i Danmark. Men så blev jeg mindet om, at i dag sådan set også er en anden, værdig mindedag: D-Dag. Det er i dag 63 år siden, at De Allierede gik i land i Normandiet, og i det store billede er det en af de dage, der klart må regnes som ikke bare en af de vigtigste i det 20. århundrede men en af de afgørende i frihedens historie.

Men det betyder også, at det i dag er 23 år siden, at præsident Ronald W. Reagan holdt en af sine bedste taler. Måske ikke den mest ideologiske, men klart en af de smukkeste, mest sentimentale (i ordets bedste betydning) og mest velskrevne–og selvfølgelig skrevet af Peggy Noonan. Talen, kendt som “The Boys from Pointe du Hoc”, blev holdt foran rækker med overlevende “Rangers” fra D-Dag, og den findes hér på audio (under datoen June 6, 1984) og hér som tekst. Her er et par uddrag:

“We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

… The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

… [But not] all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They’re still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost forty years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as forty years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose: to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

… Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for.”

It's the government, stupid!

Mens næsten alle er ved at falde over hinanden for at beskæftige sig med, hvad Jack Abramoffs fald som super-lobbyist mon kan betyde for Bush og Republikanerne, synes der at være få, der husker på, hvad det egentlig drejer sig om: At en pris, der er værd at have, er en pris, som det er værd at investere i at få.  Det er dét, som Gordon Tullock og public choice skolen kalder “rent-seeking”, men som den irske 1800-tals historiker Lord Acton egentlig beskrev mere filosofisk med ordene: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.  Jo større og mere regulerende den offentlige sektor er, og jo mere magten til at træffe beslutningerne er koncentrerede på nogle få, desto mere er det sandsynligt, at særinteressegrupper vil forsøge at påvirke beslutningerne på en måde, der gavner de få på bekostning af de mange.

Problemet er jo ikke, at Abramoff og de (mestendels) Republikanere, han har været i “business” med, er specielt meget mere korrupte eller kedelige typer end Demokraterne eller end politikere og lobbyister i det hele taget er flest.  Næ, Abramoff var bare bedre til det; hans “K-Street Strategy” var blot det seneste og det mest innovative forsøg, og man skal være meget naiv for ikke at tro, at en kraftig ekspansion af den offentlige sektor, ikke medfører stigende lobbyisme og mere innovative metoder for at sikre sig de “rents”, der kan gafles.  Ville Demokraterne have været mindre plagede af lignende sager, hvis de havde kontrolleret kongressen?  Det skal man være endog meget naiv for at tro—eller også have en meget kort hukommelse.

Det er ikke en undskyldning af Abramoff, men det er en uundværlig diagnose, som man skal være opmærksom på, hvis man ønsker at gøre noget ved problemet.  Og problemet er her, at man bliver nødt til at have en fundamental mistillid til, hvad staten og den politiske proces repræsenterer.

En af mine absolutte favoritter blandt klummeskribenter, Peggy Noonan, havde torsdag i Wall Street Journals OpinionJournal en virkelig god klumme over netop dén læst:

“The problem with government is that it is run by people, and people are flawed. They are not virtue machines. We are all of us, even the best of us, vulnerable to the call of the low: to greed, conceit, insensitivity, ruthlessness, the desire to show you’re in control, in charge, in command.

If the problem with government is that it is run by people and not, as James Madison put it, angels, the problem with big government is that it is run by a lot of people who are not angels. They can, together and in the aggregate, do much mischief. They can and inevitably will produce a great deal of injustice, corruption and heartlessness.

People in government–people in a huge, sprawling government–often get carried away. And they don’t always even mean to. But they are little tiny parts of a large and overwhelming thing. If government is a steamroller, and that is in good part how I see it, the individuals who work in it are the atoms in the steel. The force of forward motion carries them along. There is inevitably an unaccountability, and in time often an indifference about what the steamroller rolls over. All the busy little atoms are watching each other, competing with each other, winning one for their little cluster. And no one is looking out and being protective of what the steamroller is rolling over–traditions, shared beliefs, individual rights, old assumptions, whatever is being rolled over today.

This is essentially why conservatives of my generation and earlier generations don’t like big government. They don’t even like government. We know we have to have one, that it is necessary, that it can and must do good, that it has real responsibilities that must be met. Madison again, in Federalist 51: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.”

These are wise words.

But conservatives are not supposed to like big government. It’s not our job. We’re supposed to like freedom and the rights of the individual. (Individuals aren’t virtue machines either, but they’re less powerful than governments and so generally less damaging.) We’re supposed to be on the side of the grass the steamroller flattens.”

Mon ikke.  Og her er så videre en Reaganistas hilsen og “reminder” til Abramoff og K-Street klanen:

“Twenty-five years ago this month the conservative movement came to Washington, and much good came of its arrival. The argument against big government–its big taxing and big regulating, its bias toward a kind of enforced cultural conformity–was made again and again. The growth of government slowed, its demands to some degree beaten back.

The leadership of the Republican Party was now, in its avowed aims if not its daily practices, antigovernment. …  The steamroller slowed.

Eleven years ago this month came the Gingrich revolution and the Contract With America. That contract could be boiled down to these words: Stop the Steamroller. Take away its gas, make it smaller, term-limit it. Be on the side of the grass. This movement too did good work–it actually forced upon the federal government a balanced budget–but in the end results were mixed, as political results tend to be. The steamroller rolled on. …

And yet. All other parts of the government grew. The size and force of it grew in ways that were not at all necessary or crucial.
And learning to accept the steamroller, learning to direct the steamroller, learning in fact to love the steamroller, can get you to some bad places. It can get you to Jack Abramoff. To more size, more action, more corruption. To flawed people who are essentially unaccountable and busy winning their own victories for their own cluster. “I got mine. You got yours?”

Political corruption is always more likely when you fall in love with the steamroller. Or if not loving it accepting it, being “realistic” about it, embracing it. … [But it] isn’t good to love the steamroller. In the end it can roll right over you, and all you stand for, or stood for.”

Og netop dét advarede Wall Street Journals politiske redaktør John Fund forleden om: At hele Abramoff-affæren kan få alvorlige konsekvenser for Republikanerne ved midtvejs-valget i 2006, fordi partiet dermed ikke troværdigt vil kunne føre valgkamp på dets traditionelle mærkesager.  WSJ’s ledere har konsekvent være negative overfor lobbyisterne og “pork barrel politics”, og fredagens leder tager konsekvensen:

“This week’s plea agreement by “super-lobbyist” Jack Abramoff has Republicans either rushing to return his campaign contributions in an act of cosmetic distancing, accuse Democrats of being equally c
orrupt, or embrace some ne
w “lobbying reform” that would further insulate Members of Congress from political accountability.
Here’s a better strategy:
Banish the Abramoff crowd from polite Republican society, and start remembering why you were elected in the first place. …

What’s notable so far about this scandal is the wretchedness of the excess on display, as well as the fact that it involves self-styled “conservatives,” who claimed to want to clean up Washington instead of cleaning up themselves. That some Republicans are just as corruptible as some Democrats won’t surprise students of human nature. But it is an insult to the conservative voters who elected this class of Republicans and expected better.”

Som Noonan afsluttende skriver:

“Is there a way for Republicans to go? Stop trying to fit in. Stop being another atom in the steel. It does no good trying to run a better steamroller. It won’t work. Steamrollers are not your friend.”

Om ansvar, autoritet og staten

Som jeg nævnte forleden, er en af mine absolutte favorit-skribenter den amerikanske kommentator og taleskriver Peggy Noonan.  Hun er vittig, sentimental “på den fede måde” og ganske ideologisk hårdnæset.  Og alle med en interesse for amerikansk politik kan med fornøjelse læse hendes erindringer om at være taleskriver i Reagans administration, What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era (1990).

Vi har her på stedet tidligere kommenteret spændingerne på den amerikanske højrefløj.  I sin klumme i denne uge i Wall Street Journal er Noonans tema–—i hvert fald underliggende–—den spirende konflikt blandt amerikanske konservative.  Den amerikanske højrefløj har altid bestået af et antal ret indbyrdes forskellige fraktioner, men det er givetvis blevet endnu mere markant de seneste 30 år: moderate “Rockefeller Republikanere”, der nærmest minder om danske konservative (som George H.W. Bush); egentlige libertarianere (som det liberalistiske, Republikanske kongresmedlem Ron “Dr. No” Paul, Republican Liberty Caucus, sympatisører med Libertarian Party og klassisk-liberale udenfor partierne); kristne-religiøst “moral majority” konservative (som TV-prædikanter a la Pat Robertson); neokonservative, der er fokuserede på “national greatness”, forsvar og udenrigspolitik og godt kan lide en stor, men effektiv offentlig sektor (som f.eks. Weekly Standard og kommentatorerne William Kristol og David Brooks); paleokonservative, som taler om “states rights”, religion, yankee-nordstaternes aggression overfor Syden (og som associeres med f.eks. Chronicles Magazine), o.s.v., o.s.v.

For Noonan og nogle få andre er der særligt én konfliktlinie, der er ved at blive meget synlig.  På den ene side de amerikanske konservative, der synes, at autoritet og stærk politisk styring er et godt mål i sig selv (og især når det er de rette, der udøver den: Eller som som et kongresmedlem hånenede karrikerede det i en tale forleden: “Big government is good government if it is our government”). På den anden side de andre, der synes, at dette er selve problemet.  Man kan sige, at Noonan ser konflikten som værende specifikt mellem neokonservative a la Brooks og Kristol/”compassionate conservatives” a la Bush, og hvad man så kunne kalde Reagan/Goldwater konservative.  Her er et uddrag fra Noonans klumme, som meget godt skitserer konflikten, og som samtidigt meget velformuleret og koncist udtrykker “hendes” USA (og nærværende Punditokrats)—og er en god kritik af de politiske overfortolkninger af Katrina-katastrofen:

“David Brooks on “Meet the Press” Sunday said he thought Katrina had given rise to a greater public desire for “authority” and “order.” I found what he was saying typically thoughtful, but I differ with him. …

I don’t think Americans are or have been, by nature, lovers of authority. When we think of the old America we think of house-raisings on the prairie and teeming cities full of immigrants, but a big part of the American nature can also be found in the story of Jeremiah Johnson, the mountain man who just wanted to live off by himself, unbothered and unmolested by people and their churches and clubs and rules. He didn’t like authority. He wanted to be left alone.

We live in the age of emergency, however, and in that age we hunger for someone to take responsibility. Not authority, but a sense of “I’ll lead you out of this.” On 9/11 the firemen took responsibility: I will go into the fire. So did the mayor: This is how we’ll get through, this is how we’ll triumph.

In New Orleans, by contrast, the mayor seemed panicked, the governor seemed medicated, and the airborne wasn’t there until it was there and peace was restored. Until then no one took responsibility. There was a vacuum. But nature abhors a vacuum, so rumors and chaos came in to fill it. Which made things worse.
No one took charge. …

No one took responsibility, but there was plenty of authority. People in authority sent the lost to the Superdome and the Convention Center. People in authority blocked the bridges out of town. People in authority tried to confiscate guns after the looting was over.
And they did things like this: The day before hurricane Rita hit Texas, last Friday, I saw on TV something that disturbed me. It was not the usual scene of crashing waves and hardy reporters being blown sideways by wind gusts. It was a fat Texas guy swimming in the waves off Galveston. He’d apparently decided the high surf was a good thing to jump into, so he went for a prehurricane swim. Two cops saw him, waded into the surf and arrested him. When I saw it the guy was standing there in orange trunks being astonished as the cops put handcuffs on him and hauled him away.

I thought: Oh no, this is isn’t good. This is authority, not responsibility.

You’d have to be crazy, in my judgment, to decide you were going to go swim in the ocean as a hurricane comes. But in the America where I grew up, you were allowed to be crazy. You had the right. Sometimes you were crazy and survived whatever you did. Sometimes you didn’t, and afterwards everyone said, “He was crazy.”

Last week I quoted Gerald Ford: “The government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” I was talking about money. But it applies also to personal freedom, to the rights of the individual, including his right to do something stupid as long as it’s legal, like swimming.

Government has real duties in disaster. Maintaining the peace is a primary one. But if we demand that our government protect us from all the weather all the time, if we demand that it protect us from rain and hail, if we make government and politicians pay a terrible price for not getting us out of every flood zone and rescuing us from every wave, we’re going to lose a lot more than we gain. If we give government all authority then we are giving them all power.

And we will not only lose the right to be crazy, we’ll lose the right to be sane. A few weeks ago when, for a few days, some level of government, it isn’t completely clear, decided no one should be allowed to live in New Orleans after the flood, law-enforcement officers went to the home of a man who had a dry
house, a month’s supp
ly of food and water, and a gun to protect himself. The police demanded that he leave. Why? He was fine. He had everything he needed. The man was enraged: It was his decision, he said, and he was staying.

It is the government’s job to warn and inform. That’s what we have the National Weather Service for. It is not government’s job to command and control and make microdecisions about the lives of people who want to do it their own way.

Governments always start out saying they’re going to help, and always wind up pushing you around. They cannot help it. They say they want to help us live healthily and they mean it, but it ends with a guy in Queens getting arrested for trying to have a Marlboro Light with his Bud at the neighborhood bar. We’re hauling the parents of obese children into court. The government has increasing authority over our health, and these children are not healthy. Smokers, the fat, drinkers of more than two drinks per night, insane swimmers in high seas …

We are losing the balance between the rights of the individual and the needs and demands of the state. Again, this is not new. It’s a long slide that’s been going on for a long time. But Katrina and Rita seemed to make the slide deeper.

It is hard for governments to be responsible, and take responsibility. It takes real talent, and guts. But authority? That’s easier. Pass the law and get the cuffs.”

You go girl! Hvorfor har vi ikke den slags kommentatorer i Danmark?

PS. I øvrigt er førnævnte kongresmedlem Mike Pences tale, citeret ovenfor, værd at læse i sin helhed.

Noonan om Bush, barbecue-sovs & "the Bridge to Nowhere"

En af mine absolut mest yndede skribenter er den fænomenale amerikanske taleskriver, Peggy Noonan, som over de sidste +20 år har skrevet nogle af de mest velformulerede taler i amerikansk politik nogensinde.  Og det siger ikke så lidt.  Blandt talerne er Reagans farveltale, hans VE-Day tale og Bush Srs. “Read My Lips, No New Taxes”, og til Republikanernes konvent sidste år havde hun skrevet en tale til guvernør George Pataki, der næsten fik ham til at lyde interessant.

Damen skriver også som kommentator ved Wall Street Journal, og her er lidt af hendes kommentar til George W. Bush; hun opfatter ham, modsat Berlingske Tidendes Poul Høi, ikke som repræsentant for “nulstats-konservatisme”, men kalder ham det, han er, “big spender”, og nu er mor sur på og træt af ham.  Hun skal nok ikke regne med at blive inviteret tilbage til Det Hvide Hus som skribent lige med det samme, efter den svada hun her leverer:

“In his Katrina policy the president is telling Democrats, “You can’t possibly outspend me. Go ahead, try. By the time this is over Dennis Kucinich will be crying uncle, Bernie Sanders will be screaming about pork.”

That’s what’s behind Mr. Bush’s huge, comforting and boondogglish plan to spend $200 billion or $100 billion or whatever–“whatever it takes”–on Katrina’s aftermath. And, I suppose, tomorrow’s hurricane aftermath.

George W. Bush is a big spender. He has never vetoed a spending bill. When Congress serves up a big slab of fat, crackling pork, Mr. Bush responds with one big question: Got any barbecue sauce? The great Bush spending spree is about an arguably shrewd but ultimately unhelpful reading of history, domestic politics, Iraq and, I believe, vanity.

This, I believe, is the administration’s shrewd if unhelpful reading of history: In a 50-50 nation, people expect and accept high spending. They don’t like partisan bickering, there’s nothing to gain by arguing around the edges, and arguing around the edges of spending bills is all we get to do anymore. The administration believes there’s nothing in it for the Republicans to run around whining about cost. We will spend a lot and the Democrats will spend a lot. But the White House is more competent and will not raise taxes, so they believe Republicans win on this one in the long term.”

Mere effektive til at administrere en større offentlig sektor–lyder det ikke bekendt?

“As for vanity, the president’s aides sometimes seem to see themselves as The New Conservatives, a brave band of brothers who care about the poor, unlike those nasty, crabbed, cheapskate conservatives of an older, less enlightened era.

Republicans have grown alarmed at federal spending. It has come to a head not only because of Katrina but because of the huge pork-filled highway bill the president signed last month, which comes with its own poster child for bad behavior, the Bridge to Nowhere. The famous bridge in Alaska that costs $223 million and that connects one little place with two penguins and a bear with another little place with two bears and a penguin. The Bridge to Nowhere sounds, to conservative ears, like a metaphor for where endless careless spending leaves you. From the Bridge to the 21st Century to the Bridge to Nowhere: It doesn’t feel like progress.

A lot of Bush supporters assumed the president would get serious about spending in his second term. With the highway bill he showed we misread his intentions.

The administration, in answering charges of profligate spending, has taken, interestingly, to slighting old conservative hero Ronald Reagan. This week it was the e-mail of a high White House aide informing us that Ronald Reagan spent tons of money bailing out the banks in the savings-and-loan scandal. This was startling information to Reaganites who remembered it was a fellow named George H.W. Bush who did that. …

Poor Reagan. If only he’d been strong he could have been a good president. … At any rate, Republican officials start diminishing Ronald Reagan, it is a bad sign about where they are psychologically. In the White House of George H.W. Bush they called the Reagan administration “the pre-Bush era.” See where it got them.

Sometimes I think the Bush White House needs to be told: It’s good to be a revolutionary. But do you guys really need to be opening up endless new fronts? Do you need–metaphor switch–seven or eight big pots boiling on the stove all at the same time? You think the kitchen and the house might get a little too hot that way?”

Og så rejser hun et tema, som danske borgerligt-liberale også kender til: Selvretfærdiggørelsen med henvisning til, at “de andre” er langt værre:

“The Republican (as opposed to conservative) default position when faced with criticism of the Bush administration is: But Kerry would have been worse! The Democrats are worse! All too true. …  But saying The Bush administration is a lot better than having Democrats in there is not an answer to criticism, it’s a way to squelch it. Which is another Bridge to Nowhere.”

Bushs mest grundlæggende fejl er, siger Noonan, én, som danske borgerligt-liberale også vil kunne genkende:

“First and foremost Mr. Bush has abandoned all rhetorical ground. He never even speaks of high spending. He doesn’t argue against it, and he doesn’t make the moral case against it. When forced to spend, Reagan didn’t like it, and he said so. He also tried to cut. Mr. Bush seems to like it and doesn’t try to cut. He doesn’t warn that endless high spending can leave a nation tapped out and future generations hemmed in. In abandoning this ground Bush has abandoned a great deal–including a primary argument of conservatism and a primary reason for voting Republican. And who will fill this rhetorical vacuum? Hillary Clinton. She knows an opening when she sees one, and knows her base won’t believe her when she decries waste.”

Og denne strategi er kortsigtet, siger Noonan–og igen kan vi nikke fra vore hjemlige erfaringer:

“… Mr. Bush seems not to be noticing that once government spending reaches a new high level it is very hard to get it down, even a little, ever. So a decision to raise spending now is in effect a decision to raise spending forever. …

Money is power. More money for the federal government and used by the federal government is more power for the federal government. Is this good? Is this what energy in the executive is–“Here’s a check”? Are the philosophical differences between the two major parties coming down, in terms of spending, to “Who’s your daddy? He’s not your daddy, I’m your daddy.” Do we want this? Do our kids? Is it safe? Is it, in its own way, a national security issue? …

I never understood compassionate conservatism to mean, and I don’t know anyone who understood it to mean, a return to the pork-laden legislation of the 1970s. We did not understand it to mean never vetoing a spending bill. We did not understand it to mean a historic level of spending. We did not understand it to be a step back toward old ways that were bad ways.

I for one feel we need to go back to conservatism 101. We can start with a quote from Gerald Ford, if he isn’t too much of a crabbed and reactionary old Republican to quote
. He said, “A government b
ig enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” “

Og igen er der en parallel til hjemlige forhold:

“The administration knows that Republicans are becoming alarmed. Its attitude is: “We’re having some trouble with part of the base but”–smile–“we can weather that.”  Well, they probably can, short term. Long term, they’ve had bad history with weather. It can change.”

Noonan opfordrer den amerikanske højrefløj til ikke stiltiende at acceptere en så dramatisk omlægning af de idealer, man tidligere har haft:

“Here are some questions for conservative and Republicans. In answering them, they will be defining their future party.
If we are going to spend like the romantics and operators of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society; If we are going to thereby change the very meaning and nature of conservatism; If we are going to increase spending and the debt every year; If we are going to become a movement that supports big government and a party whose unspoken motto is “Whatever it takes”; If all these things, shouldn’t we perhaps at least discuss it? Shouldn’t we be talking about it? Shouldn’t our senators, congressmen and governors who wish to lead in the future come forward to take a stand?

And shouldn’t the Bush administration seriously address these questions, share more of their thinking, assumptions and philosophy?

It is possible that political history will show, in time, that those who worried about spending in 2005 were dinosaurs. If we are, we are. But we shouldn’t become extinct without a roar.”

Hvad gør dinosaurerne i de danske politiske partier?  Brøler de som løver, eller mæh’er de som lam?

© 2019 Punditokraterne

Tema af Anders NorenOp ↑