75 år i dag gik Operation Overlord i gang. Operationen blev til det, der i dag kaldes
D-Dag, den dag de allierede styrker vendte tilbage til det europæiske kontinent
og startede befrielsen fra Nazitysklands besættelse. Den amerikanske general
Dwight D. Eisenhower kommanderede det man kaldte the Supreme Headquarters
Allied Expeditionary Force, mens hans britiske pendant Bernard Montgomery blev
kommandant for the 21st Army Group. De to fik således ansvaret for 39 allierede
divisioner – mere en million tropper – der satte ind mod det nazistisk besatte
Frankrig. Mens de første allierede i Frankrig var faldskærmstropper, blev det
den enorme matchbox fleet, der landede de fleste tropper på fem strande i det
nordlige Normandiet den 6. juni 1944: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, og Sword, der
alle var solidt forsvaret af tyske soldater.
blev en dag i helvede, der 11 måneder senere skulle føre til den ”morgen som
tusinde andre og ingen morgen i tusinde år” da Danmark, sammen med Norge,
Belgien og Nordvesttyskland var befriet. Kampene på de fem strande var
uhyggeligt hårde, og mange forfattere og filmskabere har siden forsøgt at
genskabe noget af den afsindige dag. Steven Spielbergs første 20 minutter af
hans Saving Private
Ryan giver et indtryk af, hvad de allierede styrker var igennem, ligesom
of Brothers fangede både rædslen, vanviddet, og den dybere mening meget
Få har dog sagt det så klart som USA’s præsident Ronald Reagan ved 40-årsdagen for D-Dag. Reagans nu berømte Boys of Pointe du Hoc-tale – skrevet af den uforlignelige Peggy Noonan – opsummerede den morgen for nu 75 år siden: “Luften var fuld af røg og mænds skrig… og luften var fuld af riflers knitren og kanoners brøl.”
ignorerer derfor det danske valg fuldstændigt i dag for at minde om noget langt
vigtigere: Dagen, da den vestlige civilisation begyndte en tilbageerobring af fred,
frihed og retten til at leve sit eget liv. I en tid hvor mange mennesker har
glemt, hvad kommunisme og diktatur i alle dets afskygninger er, er det værd at
mindes Reagans ord om de faldne ved Pointe du Hoc for 35 år siden: ”Let us show
them by our actions that we understand what they died for.”
Jeg er ikke overraskende meget enig i det Altmann og Arzrouni skriver, omend denne uges weekendklumme i 180grader, “Den demokratiske illusion” er skrevet med en anden indgangsvinkel, og hvis nogle sporer en hvis irritation i klummen, så er det helt korrekt.
Jeg skal blankt erkende, at jeg til tider har haft meget svært ved at finde ud af hvad Søren Pind egentlig mener og står for, måske fordi jeg i min vildfarelse troede at han var liberal, men har jeg ikke fattet det før, så gør jeg det nu. Hr. Pind er først og fremmest nationalkonservativ og så forstås glæden ved kollektivistisk begrænsning af det frie valg og den elitære væmmmelse ved konsekvenserne af almindelige menneskers “vulgære” preferencer. Der står dog så tilbage, at det undrer mig, at han fortsat gladeligt citerer Ronald Reagan. For et par år siden luftede Søren Pind at han ville skrive en biografi om Ronald Reagan, mon ikke sandsynligheden nu er større for at den bliver om Søren Krarup? Hvis Søren Pinds udlægning af venstres “guddommelige” rolle i dansk politik er udtryk for en bred selvforståelse hos partiet, vil jeg da også foreslå at man skifter navn til “Venstre – Danmarks nationalkonservative parti”, måske med sloganet “Din garanti for fortsat at blive behandlet som et pattebarn ”
Som jeg skriver i klummen er jeg ikke ude på at ligestille præstestyret i Iran med vores eget repræsentative demokrati. Men efter at have set og hørt Ayatollah Ali Khameneis fredagsbøn i dag, at så adskiller demokratiske valg her i landet sig ikke meget fra et valg mellem Mousavi og Ahmadinejad, bortset fra den helt afgørende forskel (og tak og lov for det), at de fastsatte rammer for magtspillet er nogle helt andre.
FN anslår at det globale marked for illegal narkotika har en værdi på omkring 320 mia. USD., mens de amerikanske myndigheder anslår at der omsættes for omkring 60 mia. USD på det amerikanske marked alene. Herhjemme har myndighederne estimeret, at der omsættes for omkring 3 mia. danske kroner om året, hvilket er mere end værdien af den årlige omsætning for kaffe.
Nu er det af indlysende grunde vanskeligt at sige noget præcist om omsætningen på et illegalt marked, og måske er FNs lige en tak i overkanten. Til gengæld kan vi være sikker på at profitmargen er ganske betragtelig, hvorfor der er tale om et yderst lukrativt marked.
Jeg har tidligere her på bloggen argumenteret for, at den nuværende forbudspolitik – ikke kun i Danmark – men globalt bør afskaffes. Det er jeg bestemt ikke ene om. Fremtrædende internationale aviser og tidsskrifter, som bl.a. Finansial Times og The Economist har i årtier argumenteret for en afkriminalisering af narkotikamarkedet. I USA og Canada findes flere organisationer der aktivt arbejder for legalisering, bl.a. LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), bestående af nuværende og tidligere politifolk, som f.eks. Seatles tidligere politchef, Norm Stamper, se interview med ham her.
Den mest fremtrædende organisation der arbejder for en legalisering er nok Drug Policy Alliance, hvor bl.a. Paul Volker, nuværende økonomisk rådgiver for Obama og tidligere nationalbankdirektør, og George P. Shultz, tidligere finans- og udenrigsminister under henholdsvis Nixon og Reagan, for blot at nævne et par stykker, gerne lægger deres gode navn og rygte til en bevægelse hvis endemål som sagt er en eller anden form for legalisering af narkotika.
I Latinamerika, står bl.a. de tidligere præsidenter for henholdsvis Colombia, Brasilien og Meksiko; César Gaviria, Fernando Henrique Cardoso og Ernesto Zedillo bag en opfordring til et paradigmeskifte fra aggressiv indsats mod udbudet af narkotika (der ikke har været i stand til at mindske dette alligevel) til at fokusere på at mindske efterspørgslen via oplysningskampanger osv. Og omend den senere tids skyderier er ubehagelige for borgerne i København, er det intet at regne for, sammenlignet med konsekvenserne i netop bl.a. Meksiko, Colombia og Brasilien.
Tragedien, som den udfolder sig i Mexiko i disse år, og har fået nogle til at tale om Mexiko som en failed state, er drevet dels af narkobandernes indbyrdes rivaliseren og dels kampen mellem myndighederne og de pågældende bander.
For Colombias vedkommende ville FARC formentlig have været besejret for mange år siden, hvis ikke det havde været for den FN sanktionerede og amerikansk ledede ”War On Drugs”, mens Brasilien i årtier har lidt under, at store områder i storbyer som f.eks. Sao Paulo og Rio de Janeiro fuldstændig kontrolleres af kriminelle organisationer, hvis hovedindtægt stammer fra narkotika. Kontrollen er så total, at enhver politiaktion i de pågældende slumkvarterer mest af alt minder om borgerkrig, hvor de kriminelle ofte er edre bevæbnet end politiet.
Fælles for de tre lande er selvfølgelig også den medfølgende korruption - ikke mindst indenfor politiet (et problem der formentlig også eksisterer i mindre udstrækning i Danmark).
Nu er det som antydet næppe de nuværende kampe mellem rivaliserende kriminelle bander og deres kamp om det danske marked, der skaber overskrifter internationalt. Ej heller er det årsagen til, at hovedhistorien i denne uges Economist var How to stop the drug wars. Ikke desto mindre er også det blodige opgør herhjemme led i en udvikling, som man ser over hele verden.
Lad mig her med det samme erkende, at det for mig er en forudsætning som liberal, at man frasiger sig retten til at afgøre og bestemme over hvad andre mennesker vil gøre med sig selv og deres krop. Men det er selvfølgelig kun en problemstilling for de, der gerne vil se sig selv som liberal, eller som The Economist skriver:
“There are two main reasons for arguing that prohibition should be scrapped all the same. The first is one of liberal principle. Although some illegal drugs are extremely dangerous to some people, most are not especially harmful. (Tobacco is more addictive than virtually all of them.) Most consumers of illegal drugs, including cocaine and even heroin, take them only occasionally. They do so because they derive enjoyment from them (as they do from whisky or a Marlboro Light). It is not the states job to stop them from doing so.“
I denne uge mødes ministre fra hele verden i Wien for at diskutere den internationale narkotikapolitik i årene fremover. Som The Economist bemærker, vil mange af dem, som generaler fra første verdenskrig, hævde at der blot er brug for mere af det samme.
Men fakta er, at den førte politik har været en fiasko af gigantiske dimensioner, Udbuddet af narkotika har aldrig været større, priserne er faldet og forbruget er stort set det samme.
Med Economist ord fra denne uges leder;
Nowadays the UN Office on Drugs and Crime no longer talks about a drug-free world. Its boast is that the drug market has stabilised, meaning that more than 200m people, or almost 5% of the worlds adult population, still take illegal drugsroughly the same proportion as a decade ago. (Like most purported drug facts, this one is just an educated guess: evidential rigour is another casualty of illegality.) The production of cocaine and opium is probably about the same as it was a decade ago; that of cannabis is higher. Consumption of cocaine has declined gradually in the United States from its peak in the early 1980s, but the path is uneven (it remains higher than in the mid-1990s), and it is rising in many places, including Europe.
Og målt på menneskelige og økonomiske omkostninger, har den førte politik været langt langt værre end de negative konsekvenser en legalisering eventuelt måtte have.
Mens dele af FN ufortrødent fortsat støtter en videreførelse af den nuværende politik (der er jo også en del der får deres daglige udkomme af at udføre den meningsløse politik), kommer andre dele af organisationen frem til et helt andet resultat.
Sundhedsminister Jakob Axel Nielsen understreger således overfor Ritzaus sin og regeringens modstand mod fixerum, og spørger retorisk om hvordan vi undgår, at børn og unge bliver narkomaner sådan nogle steder, og hvordan vi undgår, at banderne udnytter fixerummene til at sælge narko og hverve prostituerede?
Tilsyneladende lider han under under den vrangforestilling at lovgivning – i den udstrækning af fixerum kan anses for en afkriminalisering – har nogen nævneværdig indflydelse på befolkningens brug af narkotika. Det til trods for, at der ikke eksisterer imperisk bevis for denne holdning. Tværtimod. Sammenligner man f.eks. Norge og Sverige, har de nogenlunde samme forbrug af narkotika, på trods af at man i Sverige fører en langt mere restriktiv politik.
En undersøgelse af WHO konkluderede sidste år, at “Globally, drug use is not distributed evenly and is not simply related to drug policy, since countries with stringent user-level illegal drug policies did not have lower levels of use than countries with liberal ones. Sex differences were consistently documented, but are decreasing in more recent cohorts, who also have higher levels of illegal drug use and extensions in the period of risk for initiation.
F.eks. var andelen i USA der havde prøvet cocain ca. 8 gange større i USA end i Holland på trods af, at USA er et af de lande hvor man fører den mest restriktive narkotikapolitik og Holland er berømt/berygtet for det modsatte.
En legalisering af handel med hash er kun et skridt i den rigtige retning.
Det er væsentligt at skelne mellem de forskellige typer af kriminalitet, som den gældende narkotikalovgivning afstedkommer. Ét er kampen om at kontrollere markedet, som den manifesterer sig for tiden med knivstikkerier og skyderier Københavnsområdet. Noget andet er den kriminalitet, som narkomaners jagt på penge til stoffer er skyld i. Sidstnævnte problem vil næppe påvirkes nævneværdigt af en legalisering af hashhandlen.
Hvad angår det første problem, vil en legalisering af handlen med hash være en del af løsningen, fordi hashhandlen i sig selv står for en meget betydelig del af omsætning og profit (Københavns politi anslår at omsætningen i hovedstadsregionen alene er op mod 1 mia. kroner om året). Men selv om man legaliserer hash, vil der fortsat være et yderst lukrativt marked for andre former for illegale rusmidler, som der selvfølgelig fortsat vil blive kæmpet om.
På langt sigt vil det gøre markedet mindre attraktivt, omend det på kort sigt muligvis vil øge konflikten mellem markedsdeltagerne, i og med at de nu skal kæmpe om et mindre marked. Dog er det en pris, der uden tvivl er værd at betale for at opnå de langsigtede gevinster.
Forskellen på legale og illegale markeder og effekten af regeringens tiltag.
Lad mig starte med et lille spørgsmål; Hvor mange mon ville holde op med at drikke kaffe, hvis det blev forbudt? Nej vel. Hvis vi nogenlunde let kan få fat i det til en pris vi er villige til at betale, fortsætter vi med at drikke kaffe. Det afgørende er ikke lovgivningen, men tilgængelighed og pris samt muligvis konsekvenserne ved at blive taget med det nu forbudte stof. Men vil forbuddet betydemindre for vores for, vil selve markedet til gengæld ændre sig dramatisk. Herunder hvem der udbyder kaffe. Det afgørende i denne sammenhæng er ikke hvilket produkt der sælges, men hvorvidt det er illegalt at sælge og hvor stor avancen er.
Når konkurrence på pris og kvalitet afløses af konkurrence på brutalitet.
Vi er vant til at producenterne konkurrerer på pris og kvalitet. Hvis en eller flere sælgere skulle finde på at bruge ufine metoder overfor deres konkurrenter, kan de normalt gå til politiet. På et legalt marked præget af konkurrence vil der derfor primært konkurreres på pris og kvalitet.
Helt anderles forholder det sig med illegale markeder. Det anslås at ca. 5% af jordens befolkning jævnligt indtager et eller flere illegale stoffer, og naturligvis vil der altid være udbydere, som mod den rette pris gerne tilfredsstiller denne efterspørgsel. Til gengæld kan man glemme alt om konkurrence på pris og kvalitet og beskyttelse mod “ufine” konkurrenter. Det er jo vanskeligt at gå til politiet uden selv at komme i fedtefadet, hvis man som pusher bliver jagtet af andre pushere.
Og jo højere gevinst og risiko der er involveret, jo mere brutalitet og afstumpethed være de afgørende konkurrenceparametre, hvilket den historiske udvikling af det danske narkotikamarked (ligesom andre lande) demonstrerer.
Udviklingen fra 1960erne og frem til nu har været en konstant forråelse, hvor vinderen af kampen om markedsandelene er den som er mest brutal. Og sådan vil det formentlig fortsat være.
Jeg tillader mig at bryde min lange stilhed & emeritus status her på bloggen–i dagens anledning. Jeg har hurtigt skrevet en klumme til onsdagens Berlingske om Obamas indsættelsestale. Skulle nogen være i tvivl, så foretrækker jeg fortsat denne–fra dengang Republikanere endnu talte om lavere offentlige udgifter og mindre statsstyring:
“We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.
Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery, and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.
But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.
You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we’re not bound by that same limitation? We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding: We are going to begin to act, beginning today.
The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we’ve had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.
In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.
We hear much of special interest groups. Well, our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we’re sick–professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truck drivers. They are, in short, “we the people,” this breed called Americans.
Well, this administration’s objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunities for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of this “new beginning,” and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America, at peace with itself and the world.
So, as we begin, let us take inventory. We are a nation that has a government–not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.
It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the federal government and those reserved to the states or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states; the states created the federal government.
Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it’s not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work–work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.
If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay the price.
It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We’re not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope.”
Når USA på tirsdag vælger sin næste konservative præsident, kan vi være sikre på, at det bliver en af de mere økonomisk interventionistiske af slagsen, og som overskriften antyder, vil jeg i lighed med de fleste, blive temmelig overrasket, hvis ikke det bliver Barack Obama (i modsætning til hvad jeg troede i foråret).
Men ligesom det monetaristiske paradigmeskifte og afreguleringen af amerikansk økonomi, ovenpå 1960ernes og 1970ernes fejlslagne keynesianske økonomiforståelse i forhold til pengepolitik og reguleringer med rødder endnu længere tilbage i tiden, der i dag er knyttet til Ronald Reagans navn, startede allerede under Jimmy Carter, kan man vist ikke mindst med de seneste måneders begivenheder in mente med rette anføre, at paradigmeskiftet til en mere interventionistisk økonomisk politik skete under George Bush.
Godt nok præsenteredes redningen af den finansielle sektor med beklagelse, men allerede inden den (åbenlyse) finansielle krise, var man parat til at hjælpe f.eks. den skrantende amerikanske bilindustri, ligesom støtten til amerikansk landbrug er steget.
Ud over at være konservativ i europæisk forstand (i grove træk lidt i retning af at vælge mellem Connie Hedegaard og Lene Espersen) har begge kandidater ført en populistisk valgkamp, der ikke står tilbage for en typisk europæisk statscentreret valgkamp.
Som skrevet i et indlæg tidligere på året, har undertegnede meget svært ved at se det nye i Obamas politik. Det minder mest af alt om demokratisk hyldevare, hvilket hans fremtoning dog bestemt ikke kan siges at være. Det er næppe for meget at sige, at han har kørt den måske mest imponerende valgkampange i USA’s historie.
Som mærkevare betragtet er Obama fuldt på højde med både Apple, Nike og BMW – omend jeg tvivler på at holdbarheden kan gøre de nævnte mærker det efter. At indholdet, hvis vi blive i bilsproget, så mere minder om Peugeot (der har stort held med at iklæde standardkomponenter et flot design) end om BMW (der er en noget mere innovativ bilfabrikant), er en anden sag.
I et andet indlæg i foråret skrev jeg om hvad jeg som europæer var bekymret for hos Barack Obama, nemlig først og fremmest at han i sine valgløfter lægger op til en mere restriktiv handelspolitik. Den skepsis og frygt synes jeg kun er blevet forstærket under valgkampen. Det være sig, når han taler om at bevare arbejdspladser i USA, eller når man ser på den styrkelse af fagbevægelsen der lægges op til.
Dette i modsætning til John McCain, der til gengæld, til stor beklagelse, valgte at sælge sig selv til det religiøse højre i en efter min opfattelse fatal fejlsatsning.
På trods af, at Mitt Romney som mormon er problematisk i visse vælgeres øjne, havde det nok været en fordel med tanke på hvor vigtig økonomien er blevet i slutfasen af valgkampen, hvis han var blevet vicepræsidentkandidat.
Eller som The Economist skriver om forskellen på senateren McCain og præsidentkandidaten McCain i denne uges leder :
The selection of Mr McCain as the Republicans candidate was a powerful reason to reconsider. Mr McCain has his faults: he is an instinctive politician, quick to judge and with a sharp temper. And his age has long been a concern (how many global companies in distress would bring in a new 72-year-old boss?). Yet he has bravely taken unpopular positionsfor free trade, immigration reform, the surge in Iraq, tackling climate change and campaign-finance reform. A western Republican in the Reagan mould, he has a long record of working with both Democrats and Americas allies.
Og med beklagelse fortsætter under overskriften If only the real John McCain had been running
That, however, was Senator McCain; the Candidate McCain of the past six months has too often seemed the victim of political sorcery, his good features magically inverted, his bad ones exaggerated. The fiscal conservative who once tackled Mr Bush over his unaffordable tax cuts now proposes not just to keep the cuts, but to deepen them. The man who denounced the religious right as agents of intolerance now embraces theocratic culture warriors. The campaigner against ethanol subsidies (who had a better record on global warming than most Democrats) came out in favour of a petrol-tax holiday. It has not all disappeared: his support for free trade has never wavered. Yet rather than heading towards the centre after he won the nomination, Mr McCain moved to the right.
Og The Economist endorsement af Obama er bestemt ikke uden sine betænkligheder:
Our main doubts about Mr Obama have to do with the damage a muddle-headed Democratic Congress might try to do to the economy. Despite the protectionist rhetoric that still sometimes seeps into his speeches, Mr Obama would not sponsor a China-bashing bill. But what happens if one appears out of Congress? Worryingly, he has a poor record of defying his partys baronies, especially the unions. His advisers insist that Mr Obama is too clever to usher in a new age of over-regulation, that he will stop such nonsense getting out of Congress, that he is a political chameleon who would move to the centre in Washington. But the risk remains that on economic matters the centre that Mr Obama moves to would be that of his party, not that of the country as a whole.
Et par af mine elever spurgte mig for et par dage siden, hvem jeg troede der ville vinde valget, hvor til jeg svarede, at uanset hvem der vandt håbede jeg på, at de ikke ville opfylde deres valgønsker, og det gælder ikke mindst Barack Obama.
Hvis han gør det, eller føjer en demokratisk domineret kongres i ønsket om at beskytte amerikanske arbejdspladser, vil den magi der står om ham ikke mindst i Europa og Latinamerika nok hurtigt fordufte omend det selvfølgelig hurtigt kan ske under alle omstændigheder, når verden opdager, at Barack Obama først og fremmest er…… amerikaner.
Da jeg i sin tid først stødte på Buckleys navn, var jeg til at begynde med ikke imponeret–men det skyldtes nok, at jeg alene havde Murray Rothbards meget negative vurdering af manden, som var meget præget af deres modsætninger i 1960erne og uenighed om sikkerheds- og udenrigspolitik. Som tiden gik, blev jeg mere og mere imponeret over Buckley, som trods hans lidt specielle taleform uden sammenligning var USA’s mest velartikulerede–og morsomme–konservative tænker i det 20. århundredes anden halvdel. Han blev “verdensberømt” i USA som 22-årig med bogen God and Man at Yale, og han var som skribent, stilistisk og intellektuelt set, milevidt over niveauet fra mange af de mere højlydte, nyere konservative kommentatorer såsom Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham og Michelle Malkin, for nu blot at nævne nogle oplagte, eller tågehorn som Mike Huckabee. Hos Buckley var der–selv når man var uenig med ham–altid en vis (høj) standard, selv når han var morsom og perfid.
Samtidigt var Buckley, både intellektuelt og organisatorisk (ikke mindst som grundlægger og redaktør af National Review og initiativtager til “Young Americans for Freedom”), en person af måske større betydning for formningen af amerikansk konservatisme end nogen anden amerikansk konservativ i det 20. århundrede, ihvertfald et par præsidenter inkluderet. Som WSJ skriver:
“Buckley and his talented stable of editors and contributors gave coherence and shape to what he called “a fusion” of traditionalism, anti-Communist internationalism and free-market economics. Equally important, the magazine worked to discredit fringe elements like the John Birchers, the Jew-haters and the Lindbergh isolationists.”
Det er ikke helt ved siden af at sige, at uden Buckley, Goldwater og Reagan, ville der ikke have været nogen amerikansk konservativ “revolution” i 1980erne. Han var en ener, og som NYT skriver én, der “marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse”.
Vi har tidligere skrevet om ham her. National Review selv gør det her.
Q: In what sense, if any, would you describe Mr. Buckley as a libertarian?
A: He supported the legalization of drugs, was an utter devotee of Milton Friedmans economic principles and said African Americans had every right to boycott industries that discriminated against them. Those are just a few examples, and I think its safe to say his traditionalism was in dialog with his libertarianism throughout his life.
Her er så Wall Street Journals lederskribents sammenfatning af sit syn på de to vindere fra partiafstemningerne i Iowa:
“Mr. Obama’s other potential weakness in November is his orthodox policy liberalism. We can’t recall a single issue on which he has broken with a Democratic interest group. On taxes, he is to the left even of Mrs. Clinton in that he wants to raise the income limit on payroll taxes above its current ceiling of $102,000. Combined with his vow to repeal the Bush tax rates, this would be the biggest tax increase in history by far. Sooner or later this liberal agenda, assuming Mr. Obama believes it, will have to be squared with his rhetoric of “bipartisanship” and national reconciliation.
As for Mr. Huckabee, he shares at least one trait with Mr. Obama–both come across as likable men with an easy charm. But we have our doubts that the former Arkansas Governor’s victory will have the same political impact. He won in a caucus where his fellow evangelicals were 60% of the vote, and this won’t be true in other states. Mr. Huckabee is also only now being discovered by most Republican voters. His innocence (or ignorance) on foreign policy, penchant for borrowing liberal economic attack lines, and even his rejection of Darwin’s theory of evolution deserve to be understood by voters before they make him their standard bearer.”
Så er det sagt både pænt og relativt klart …
Personligt er det min vurdering, at man skal passe på med at lægge for meget i selve de to Iowa vindere: Det er kun sket én gang siden 1972, at den, der blev valgt til præsident, også havde vundet ved Iowas noget mærkelige partiafstemninger. Det var i 2000, hvor George W. Bush vandt. Det betyder selvfølgelig ikke, at det er en naturlov, der ikke kan brydes, men det betyder, at Iowa-valgene ikke er det bedste sted at forudsige resten af primærvalgssæsonen.
Jeg tror selv, at Obama har en vis mulighed for at vinde. Hvis han vinder i New Hampshire, er Clinton i alvorlige problemer. Men hvis hun vinder dér? Så er hun bare “the comeback kid II”, og så er dét historien i alle medier, og så ruller hun videre, som så mange andre, der har tabt i Iowa–men med flere penge og højere navnegenkendelse end nogen før hende (omend tillige med et mere ramponeret image). Uanset hvem af dem, der vinder i New Hampshire, vil kampen mellem dem givetvis fortsætte indtil én af dem har et klart flertal af delegerede bag sig–og det kan tage lidt tid, når Clinton har vundet Michigan og formodentlig vinder i Californien og New York.
Jeg kan ikke se Huckabee vinde i New Hampshire–omend jeg godt lige vil se de første post-Iowa meningsmålinger. Og vinder han ikke dér, vil han hurtigt gå over i historien som en af dem, der vandt i Iowa og så ikke vandt noget (eller meget) derefter. Pudsigt nok har Huckabees sejr over Romney gjort, at en helt tredje (eller fjerde eller femte) reelt er dukket op som ny favorit, nemlig selveste den genfødte John McCain. McCain lå længe til at vinde i New Hampshire, hvor han er kendt og vellidt, men da nabostatens eks-guvernør, Romney, tæppebombede med reklamer, faldt McCain. Men hvad sker der så nu, hvor Romney taber terræn relativt til Huckabee? Så stiger McCain, så man decideret kan tale om en genfødsel. Hvis McCain vinder i New Hampshire–hvilket jeg tror er ganske sandsynligt–så dropper hans gode ven, Fred Thompson, formodentlig ud (idet hans kampagne har været en katastrofe og han er ved at løbe tør for penge), og peger han på McCain, vil denne have en solid position til at vinde de næste primærvalg. Og Giuliani? Han kan næppe regne med at vinde noget før Florida sidst i januar, og hvis det går som den forudgående analyse sandsynliggør, vil McCain til den tid have vundet stort set alle primærvalg.
Så står vi overfor et McCain-Giuliani slagsmål de kommende måneder, og i et sådant er det svært for denne punditokrat at forudse, hvem f.eks. de evangelske protestanter i det såkaldte “kristne højre”, eller de mere klassisk Reagan-Goldwater konservative, vil støtte. Både Giuliani og McCain (der, som vi tidligere har påpeget, nærmest er en big government Roosevelt-Republikaner) er begge på flere punkter stort set lige langt fra disse to indbyrdes forskellige, men dog centrale grupperinger indenfor partiet. Hvis ikke en af eller begge disse grupper kaster sig markant bag den ene eller den anden, kan det blive langvarigt.
Og Ron Paul? Han vil formodentlig blive ved hele vejen, længe efter at slaget er endegyldigt tabt. Han har ikke en jordisk chance for at vinde hverken nominering eller valg–men politik kan jo også handle om principper, selvom Pauls egne langt fra altid er lige klare eller velartikulerede. Det altid læsværdige Reason Magazine havde en interessant artikel om hans kampagne forleden.
Ann Coulter er ikke en kommentator, der skriver særligt godt, eller generelt er til at holde ud at høre på i mere end et par sekunder. Men selv blinde høns kan vel finde enkelte frø, og denne karakteristik af Huckabee er da lidt morsom: “Huckabee opposes school choice, earning him the coveted endorsement of the National Education Association of New Hampshire, which is like the sheriff being endorsed by the local whorehouse. … Huckabee wants to get kids involved in music at an early age because he believes it leads to a more balanced and developed brain. You know, as we saw with the Jackson family. Maybe someone should tell him the Osmonds are voting for Romney. He supports a nationwide smoking ban anyplace where people work, constitutional protection for sodomy, big government, higher taxes and government benefits for illegal aliens. According to my calculations, that puts him about three earmarks away from being Nancy Pelosi. Liberals take a perverse pleasure in touting Huckabee because they know he will give them everything they want — big government and a Christian they can roll. “
En af USA’s mest respekterede, uafhængige valganalytikere, Stuart Rothenberg, har denne analyse af et muligt Obama-Huckabee match-up: “But one thing does seem pretty clear: If it’s Obama versus Huckabee in November, Republicans might want to prepare a bomb shelter and store plenty of food, water and reading material. That general election would more likely than not be a massive blowout for Democrats. … For Huckabee, Obama is a true nightmare. For Obama, Huckabee is a godsend.”
Da der nu kun er en måned til de første primærvalg afholdes i USA, vil jeg hermed begynde en lille serie af småklip & -kommentarer om løst og fast i den forbindelse.
Vi begynder med min nærmest-elskede Peggy Noonan, som i WSJ’s OpinionJournal skriver om Mitt Romney (R)’s nylige tale om religion, og dét at han selv er mormon, altimens mange af dem han skal have til at støtte sig er evangelske-protestanter af den mere eller mindre bogstavelige karakter. Noonan synes, at det var klogt at gøre, men unødvendigt for hendes eget vedkommende:
“Did Mitt Romney have to give a speech on religion? Yes. When you’re in a race so close you could lose due to one issue, your Mormonism, you must address the issue of your Mormonism.
… He had nothing to prove to me regarding his faith or his church, which apparently makes me your basic Catholic. Catholics are not his problem. His problem, a Romney aide told me, had more to do with a particular fundamentalist strain within evangelical Protestantism. Bill Buckley once said he’d rather be governed by the first thousand names in the Boston phone book than the Harvard faculty. I’d rather be governed by Donny and Marie than the Washington establishment. Mormons have been, in American history, hardworking, family-loving citizens whose civic impulses have tended toward the constructive. Good enough for me. He’s running for president, not pastor. In any case his faith is one thing about Mr. Romney I haven’t questioned.”
Det er nogenlunde også min egen personlige vurdering. Men det er ikke godt nok for mig. Jeg tror ikke, at Romney–trods en pengekasse større end Joakim von Ands–er troværdig nok til at få nomineringen, eller til at vinde hvis han fik den. Demokraterne ville elske at købe restlageret af de sandaler, som Republikanerne i 2004 svingede i luften foran John Kerry, mens de i kor råbte “flip-flop, flip-flop …”.
Noonan kunne som sagt godt lide hans tale, men hun har en sjov kritik–sjov i den forstand, at den både er rigtig og spydig:
“At the end, he told a story he had inserted just before Thanksgiving. During the dark days of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, someone suggested the delegates pray. But there were objections: They all held different faiths. “Then Sam Adams rose, and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot. And so together they prayed.” At this point in Mr. Romney’s speech, the roused audience stood and applauded, and the candidate looked moved.
There was one significant mistake in the speech. I do not know why Romney did not include nonbelievers in his moving portrait of the great American family. We were founded by believing Christians, but soon enough Jeremiah Johnson, and the old proud agnostic mountain men, and the village atheist, and the Brahmin doubter, were there, and they too are part of us, part of this wonderful thing we have. Why did Mr. Romney not do the obvious thing and include them? My guess: It would have been reported, and some idiots would have seen it and been offended that this Romney character likes to laud atheists. And he would have lost the idiot vote.
My feeling is we’ve bowed too far to the idiots. This is true in politics, journalism, and just about everything else.”
Min egen elskede Berlingske Tidende har dd. et nærmest savlende portræt af en anden præsidentkandidat, Mike Huckabee (R), der kalder denne en “logisk favorit”, der har et budskab “som selv liberale amerikanere måske endda vil acceptere, når det kommer fra en person, de i bund og grund synes godt om”. Det er skrevet af avisens korrespondent, Karl Erik Stougaard, og det er vel i sig selv grund nok til at være skeptisk. Jeg bliver ihvertfald mindet om, hvordan danske medier ofte både ukritisk og omklamrende bygger enhver “udfordrer” indenfor det Republikanske parti op, for blot derefter–hvis det går vedkommende godt–at skyde vedkommende ned igen af lige præcis de årsager, de ikke nævnte til at begynde med.
“DES MOINES, Iowa–Stepping out for a press conference here Monday, Mike Huckabee fielded the ultimate question. Just how conservative are you?
“I’m as conservative as anyone could hope to be, or want to be, or needs to be,” replied the smiling former Arkansas governor, never missing a beat, and following up with a boilerplate summary of his belief in “lower taxes,” the “sanctity of human life” and a “strong military”–before moving ever so swiftly on to the next question.
It was trademark Huckabee: Sounds great, explains little. It’s a strategy that has so far served him well, rocketing his campaign in recent weeks to the top ranks of the Republican presidential field. The question is whether he can continue to pull off that trick …”
Og hvad mener han så mere specifikt?
“A populist at heart, Mr. Huckabee claims he’s “no protectionist,” but over and over this week he complained about the U.S. trade deficit with China and vowed, in the best Democratic tradition, to only sign “fair trade” deals. To bring up big companies is to invite a Huckabee lecture on the “greed” of corporate executives who tower over “average employees.”
Mr. Huckabee likes to say he cut taxes in Arkansas 94 times, and has collected devotees around his promise for sweeping tax reform via the “fair tax.” He promises to abolish the IRS, and along with it all current income, corporate, payroll and other taxes–to be replaced with a 23% national sales, or consumption, tax. He’s also promised repeal of the 16th amendment–which established the income tax–to ensure Americans don’t get double-taxation.
The chances of actually accomplishing this are about as likely as Christmas three times a year. But the benefit of Mr. Huckabee’s dreamy tax proposal is that it has, until now, allowed him to avoid talk of his own checkered tax past in Little Rock. That tenure included sales tax hikes, strong support for Internet taxation, bills raising gas and cigarette taxes, etc. By this week, Mr. Huckabee had been slammed on this tax history so much he was no longer disputing the details. When asked if he didn’t have a “mixed” record, Mr. Huckabee shot back: “Most everyone who has ever governed does,” before insisting that even the great Reagan had raised taxes while at the helm of California.
… Voters are only now beginning to hear some of this, and Mr. Huckabee, with little money or infrastructure in other primary states, is still a long way from the nomination. But if by some chance he keeps up this surge, Republican voters need to understand they are signing up for a whole new brand of “conservatism.”
Tirsdag i P1 Debat kunne man høre Villy Søvndal debattere med Søren Pind, og blandt førstnævntes vanligt indsigtsfulde bemærkninger var bl.a. (her i parafrase), at det er forkert at give skattelettelser, fordi det kan føre til “overophedning”, og derfor skal pengene snarere bruges i den offentlige sektor med henblik på at “skaffe flere hænder”. Det lå så lige for at spørge hr. Søvndal, hvorfor det sidste ikke vil føre til mindst lige så megen “overophedning”, at den gode, Reagan-beundrende Søren vist overså, at selveste “The Gipper” allerede havde drillet hr. Søvndal–omend for et kvart århundrede siden.
Her er ihvertfald, hvad han i 1980 sagde i præsidentkandidat-debatten med daværende Præsident Carter:
“I would like to ask the President why is it inflationary to let the people keep more of their money and spend it the way they like, and it isn’t inflationary to let him take that money and spend it the way he wants?”
Tre-fire måneder før nogen danske MSM opdagede, at der blandt de Republikanske præsidentkandidater var et vist kongresmedlem, Dr. Ron Paul, skrev vi om ham her på stedet. Nu er andre medier ved at følge efter, i takt med at den libertarianske “Dr. No”‘s position som den eneste Republikanske præsidentkandidat, der er–og hele tiden har været–imod Irak-krigen, er ved at manifestere sig. Paul har ganske vist ikke en jordisk chance for at vinde hverken nominering eller præsidentembede, men han er i det mindste et interessant indslag. New York Times havde f.eks. en stor og lang portrætartikel, “The Antiwar, Anti-Abortion, Anti-Drug-Enforcement- Administration, Anti-Medicare Candidacy of Dr. Ron Paul” i søndagsudgavens magasin. Heri hed det bl.a.:
“Paul represents a different Republican Party from the one that Iraq, deficits and corruption have soured the country on. In late June, despite a life of antitax agitation and churchgoing, he was excluded from a Republican forum sponsored by Iowa antitax and Christian groups. His school of Republicanism, which had its last serious national airing in the Goldwater campaign of 1964, stands for a certain idea of the Constitution the idea that much of the power asserted by modern presidents has been usurped from Congress, and that much of the power asserted by Congress has been usurped from the states. Though Paul acknowledges flaws in both the Constitution (it included slavery) and the Bill of Rights (it doesnt go far enough), he still thinks a comprehensive array of positions can be drawn from them: Against gun control. For the sovereignty of states. And against foreign-policy adventures. Paul was the Libertarian Partys presidential candidate in 1988. … In Congress, Paul is generally admired for his fidelity to principle and lack of ego. He is one of the easiest people in Congress to work with, because he bases his positions on the merits of issues, says Barney Frank, who has worked with Paul on efforts to ease the regulation of gambling and medical marijuana. He is independent but not ornery. Paul has made a habit of objecting to things that no one else objects to. In October 2001, he was one of three House Republicans to vote against the USA Patriot Act. He was the sole House member of either party to vote against the Financial Antiterrorism Act (final tally: 412-1). In 1999, he was the only naysayer in a 424-1 vote in favor of casting a medal to honor Rosa Parks. Nothing against Rosa Parks: Paul voted against similar medals for Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. He routinely opposes resolutions that presume to advise foreign governments how to run their affairs: He has refused to condemn Robert Mugabes violence against Zimbabwean citizens (421-1), to call on Vietnam to release political prisoners (425-1) or to ask the League of Arab States to help stop the killing in Darfur (425-1).”
Ikke alle amerikanske libertarianere/liberalister er dog lige begejstrede for Ron Pauls kandidatur. En af de mest begavede akademikere, jeg nogensinde har kendt, er jura-professoren Randy E. Barnett, som i snart 30 år har været kendt som en af de mest velformulerede men også mest “hard core” liberalister i amerikansk samfundsdebat. Han havde i sidste uge et lidt overraskende frontalt angreb på Ron Pauls kandidatur, i en klumme, “Libertarians and the war”, i Wall Street Journal:
“While the number of Americans who self-identify as “libertarian” remains small, a substantial proportion agree with the core stances of limited constitutional government in both the economic and social spheres–what is sometimes called “economic conservatism” and “social liberalism.” But if they watched the Republican presidential debate on May 15, many Americans might resist the libertarian label, because they now identify it with strident opposition to the war in Iraq, and perhaps even to the war against Islamic jihadists.
During that debate, the riveting exchange between Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul about whether American foreign policy provoked the 9/11 attack raised the visibility of both candidates. … The exchange also drew attention to Mr. Paul, who until then had been a rather marginal member of the 10-man Republican field. One striking feature of Mr. Paul’s debate performance was his insistence on connecting his answer to almost every question put to him–even friendly questions about taxes, spending and personal liberty–to the war.
This raised the question: Does being a libertarian commit one to a particular stance toward the Iraq war? The simple answer is “no.”
First and foremost, llibertarians believe in robust rights of private property, freedom of contract, and restitution to victims of crime. They hold that these rights define true “liberty” and provide the boundaries within which individuals may pursue happiness by making their own free choices while living in close proximity to each other. Within these boundaries, individuals can actualize their potential while minimizing their interference with the pursuit of happiness by others.
When it comes to foreign policy, libertarians’ severe skepticism of government planning in the domestic arena carries over to the government’s ability to accomplish anything positive through foreign aid, whether economic or military–a skepticism they share with most Americans. All libertarians, I suspect, oppose military conscription on principle, considering it involuntary servitude. To a libertarian, any effort at “nation building” seems to be just another form of central planning which, however well-motivated, is fraught with unintended consequences and the danger of blowback. And, like most everyone, libertarians oppose any war of aggression. In all these regards, Mr. Paul is a mainstream libertarian.
But like all libertarians, even Mr. Paul believes in the fundamental, individual right of self-defense, which is why libertarians like him overwhelmingly support the right to keep and bear arms. And most also believe that when the territory of the U.S. is attacked militarily, the government–which claims a monopoly on providing for national defense and extracts billions of tax dollars for this purpose–is justified in using the military in self-defense. For this reason, many libertarians (though not all) who now oppose the war in Iraq supported U.S. military actions against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which had aided and harbored the al Qaeda network that organized the 9/11 attack.
But here is the rub. While all libertarians accept the principle of self-defense, and most accept the role of the U.S. government in defending U.S. territory, libertarian first principles of indiv
idual rights and the rule
of law tell us little about what constitutes appropriate and effective self-defense after an attack. Devising a military defense strategy is a matter of judgment or prudence about which reasonable libertarians may differ greatly.”
Herefter skifter Barnetts klumme til en stil, der bedst kan betegnes som “tredje-person flertal”, men som uden tvivl må læses som beskrivende hans eget synspunkt:
“[Some libertarians] supported the war in Iraq because they viewed it as part of a larger war of self-defense against Islamic jihadists who were organizationally independent of any government. They viewed radical Islamic fundamentalism as resulting in part from the corrupt dictatorial regimes that inhabit the Middle East, which have effectively repressed indigenous democratic reformers. Although opposed to nation building generally, these libertarians believed that a strategy of fomenting democratic regimes in the Middle East, as was done in Germany and Japan after World War II, might well be the best way to take the fight to the enemy rather than solely trying to ward off the next attack.
Moreover, the pro-war libertarians believed there was “legal” cause to take military action against Saddam’s regime–from its manifold violations of the ceasefire to firing on American planes legally patrolling the “no fly” zone and its persistent refusals to cooperate with weapons inspections. Saddam’s regime was left in power after its unprovoked invasion of Kuwait on these and other conditions that it repeatedly had violated, thereby legally justifying its removal by force if necessary. Better to be rid of Saddam and establish an ally in the war against Islamic jihadists in the heart of the Middle East, the argument goes, and then withdraw American troops.
Naturally, the libertarians who supported the war in Iraq are disappointed, though hardly shocked, that it was so badly executed. The Bush administration might be faulted, not so much for its initial errors which occur in any war against a determined foe who adjusts creatively to any preconceived central “plan,” but for its dogged refusal to alter its approach … when it became clear that its tactics were not working. …
These libertarians are still rooting for success in Iraq because it would make Americans more safe, while defeat would greatly undermine the fight against those who declared war on the U.S. They are concerned that Americans may get the misleading impression that all libertarians oppose the Iraq war–as Ron Paul does–and even that libertarianism itself dictates opposition to this war. It would be a shame if this misinterpretation inhibited a wider acceptance of the libertarian principles that would promote the general welfare of the American people.”
Men lad mig lige begynde et andet sted. Jeg er som antydet forleden p.t. i Cambridge, og der stødte jeg forleden til en celeber middag på smukke Clare College aldeles uventet ind i min gamle, gode ven, Finn Ziegler (den piberygende økonom og liberalist og 180grader-skribent, ikke den engang cigarrygende, men nu afdøde violinist). Finn har jeg kendt i knap 25 år, og hvad jeg i sin tid først lærte om public choice teori, lærte jeg ved at ryge pibe sammen med Finn og vores fælles mentor, Otto.
Nå, men henover college-portvinen gjorde Finn og jeg, hvad man så ofte gør, når man får tyndere hår og højere humør, nemlig at mindes “gode gamle dage”. Og dér slog det mig pludselig: I disse dage for præcis 20 år siden befandt netop Finn og jeg os sammen, på vores første tur til Guds Eget Land, hvor vi var ovre sammen, for som studerende at deltage i et sommerseminar på Marymount College, arrangeret af Institute for Humane Studies. Vi var ankommet til New York, hvor vi skulle spendere et par dage, inden turen videre til Washington og Virginia. I den store by havde vi allerede første dag shoppet bøger i stor stil i den nu mere eller mindre hedengangne Laissez Faire Books, som dengang lå på Broadway. Det var før internettet–før man kunne bestille bøger fra den anden side af verden med et klik på få sekunder, og før man med e-mail kunne lære alle mulige at kende uden nogensinde at møde dem. Så nu var vi–med en upassende blandingsmetafor–i frihedens Mekka, hvor vi kunne se og købe flere interessante bøger, end vi troede eksisterede, og hvor vi kunne drikke kaffe og hyggesludre med alle mulige andre, der mente de samme gakkede ting som os selv–inkl. den navnkundige nestor blandt amerikanske libertarianere, Roy Childs. Vi boede til med i en lejlighed på Upper West Side hos LFB’s medarbejder Charlie Fowler; hvordan vi lige præcis endte hos ham, husker jeg faktisk ikke, men jeg husker, at hans “casa” var vores “casa”, fordi han skulle ud og rejse, og at han inden da arrangerede store dele af vores besøg i Washington ved at ringe rundt til frihedsorienterede venner og bekendte. (Som sagt, det var før internettet. Det var også dengang før liberaliseringerne af flytrafikken, og jeg husker endnu, at den billigste returbillet kostede ca. 7.000 kr.)
Anyway … Finn og jeg nød dagene i NYC, traskede byen tynd og stod på toppen af World Trade Center og blev fotograferet med Frihedsgudinden i baggrunden. Vi var henholdsvis 22 og 20 og følte os ganske frie i frihedens eget land. Det omfattede uvilkårligt også, at vi fik drukket nogle øl, og jeg husker klart, omend med smerte, den næste morgen. Det var hamrende varmt, som næsten kun NYC kan være om sommeren, når solen bager ned i asfaltjunglen og blandes med de fugtige rester af den caribiske strøm sydfra–og så tømmermænd. Jeg gik ind i stuen, hvor Finn havde sovet på en madras på gulvet, og hvor han nu sad og zappede på de 117 kanaler. Ret mange af dem viste det samme, nemlig en live-reportage direkte fra Brandenburger Tor. Og dér–i dag for 20 år siden, den 12. juni 1987–stod han, Ronnie-manden, “the Gipper”, og holdt talen:
“Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic, south, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same–still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state. Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.
President von Weizsacker has said, “The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed.” Today I say: As long as the gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind.
… In the 1950s, Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.” But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind–too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.
And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.
Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
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.”
Forleden var der den første offentlige debat mellem størstedelen af de Republikanere, som søger nomineringen som partiets kandidat til præsidentvalget i 2008. Debatten, der bl.a. talte John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney og Ron Paul, fandt sted på invitation af Nancy Reagan, i Ronald Reagan Presidential Library i Simi Valley.
“They stood earnestly in a row, combed, primped and prepped, as Nancy Reagan gazed up at them with courteous interest. But behind the hopeful candidates, a dwarfing shadow loomed, a shadow almost palpable in its power to remind Republicans of the days when men were men and the party was united. His power is only increased by his absence. But enough about Fred Thompson.”
I’ll admit that I have had a hard time warming to the idea that former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), whom I first saw as minority counsel during the Senate Watergate hearings and whose TV and movie credits include “Die Hard 2,” “The Hunt for Red October” and “Law & Order,” would run for president. And it seemed, at least initially, even more difficult to imagine him as the Republican nominee next year.
But try as I might to dismiss the idea of a Thompson candidacy, I no longer can do so. It isn’t that the former Senator from Tennessee is such a good fit for the role of presidential candidate. It’s simply that none of the other cast members is a perfect fit either.
As every political analyst on the planet has observed for months, all of the top-tier GOP hopefuls face serious obstacles on the road to Minneapolis, and there clearly is a vacancy in the race for a mainstream conservative who doesn’t have a reputation as a troublemaker within the party.
Thompson surely has assets both in the race for the Republican nomination and in a general election, the single most important being that he both looks and sounds like the president of the United States of America. Don’t dismiss the “he sure looks like a president” factor. It’s important.
But I’m not certain whether the former Tennessee official truly fills the vacancy in his party’s presidential field that was created when conservative Sen. George Allen’s (R-Va.) political career imploded. For now, at least, many conservatives seem to think that Thompson is acceptable, though I’m not sure how deeply they have looked into his record.
Anyway, Thompson didn’t offend conservatives when he was a Senator and he doesn’t have a pro-choice, pro-gun-control record, which makes him more acceptable to conservatives than either Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) or former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. More recently, he has substituted for longtime radio commentator Paul Harvey, where he has sounded, according to one Republican observer, “like a conservative Southerner.”
Still, Thompson’s appeal is less about who he is and more about who he isn’t.
… Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who now chairs the Virginia GOP, recently told me that criticism of Thompson is not always on the mark, and some of it is reminiscent of criticism aimed at former President Ronald Reagan.
“He is easygoing and amiable,” says Gillespie, who is offering his advice to all candidates and emphasizes that he does not now have a candidate in the Republican race and will stay neutral throughout the contest for his party’s nomination. “And he is kind of laid-back. But Fred has been successful on a number of fronts.”
… Thompson has not yet decided whether to run, though some of his allies have been sounding out consultants about their availability, should he decide to go forward.
A Thompson run would be a serious, possibly fatal, blow to the prospects of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who hopes to emerge (against either McCain or Giuliani) as the “conservative alternative.” Thompson would be a rival for that role, and the announcement of his candidacy would create at least a temporary boomlet that would eclipse Romney if the former governor had not already increased his standing in key polls.
Thompson’s announcement about whether he will make the race could come at any time, though nothing appears to be imminent. He actually may be better off delaying his entry until around the Iowa Straw Poll in August, bypassing an event that maximizes the importance of organization, which he doesn’t have and probably can’t create in a few months.
Anyway, I’m not dismissing Thompson anymore. Nature abhors a vacuum, and Fred Thompson may well have the ability to fill the one that exists in the GOP contest.”
Update: En anden London-avis, The Telegraph, har også fået øjnene op for potentialet i Thompson. I en artikel forleden hed det bl.a., at Reagans gamle støtter nu støtter Thompson:
“Ronald Reagan’s closest allies are throwing their weight behind the White House bid by the late president’s fellow actor, Fred Thompson.
The film star and former Republican senator from Tennessee will this week use a speech in the heart of Reagan country, in southern California, to woo party bigwigs in what insiders say is the next step in his coming out as a candidate.
A key figure in the Reagan inner circle has now given his seal of approval to Mr Thompson, best known as a star of the television crime drama Law and Order.
As deputy chief of staff, Michael Deaver was a key member of the “troika” of aides who kept the Reagan White House on track. With the chief of staff James Baker and special assistant Ed Meese, he was the master of image and presentation.
Mr Deaver sees the same raw material in Mr Thompson as was perceived in Ronald Reagan, describing him as someone “that could really make a difference”. He added: “He is very popular in his party. He could change this whole thing and turn this primary system upside down.
“As Ronald Reagan used to say, after he stole a line from Al Jolson, ‘Stay tuned, you ain’t seen nothing yet’.”
… Mr Deaver voiced the view of many Republicans that the current crop of declared candidates is unsatisfactory. Of the front runner, the former New York mayor Rudi Giuliani, he said: “His popularity may be a mile wide and an inch deep. I’m sure that lead will shrink.”
Mr Deaver’s intervention is significant. He is very close to Mr Reagan’s widow, Nancy, and is seen as the keeper of the Reagan flame.
Clark Judge, a White House speechwriter for Mr Reagan, said: “Fred Thompson, like Ronald Reagan, is a man of tremendous substance. There is a sense in the party that none of the candidates is quite ‘it’.”
Mr Reagan, he said, had “embodied the mission of the party – entrepreneurial growth, limited government and a strong national defence. Whoever can bring that mission into this age will be the nominee. And it may be Fred Thompson.” Roger Stone, who was a Reagan campaign strategist, said: “The president Americans want is, in fact, the guy they see on Law and Order: wise, thoughtful, deliberative, confident without the cockiness of George W Bush, urba
ne yet country. Fred Thomp
son communicates all those virtues.”
… Mr Thompson has shown that he recognises the importance of assuming the Reagan mantle. He is on record as saying: “Ronald Reagan believed in something. How much we need that today. He showed what can be done if you have the will to push for tough choices, and the ability to ask the people to accept them.”
Mr Reagan himself, asked whether his training as an actor had prepared him for the presidency, once replied: “I don’t see how any fellow that wasn’t an actor could do this job.”
Americans need not wait for Mr Thompson to win next year’s election to see him in the Oval Office. He plays President Ulysses S Grant in the film, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which opens next month.”
Den tidligere taleskriver for Ronald Reagan, for George H.W. Bush og–en gang eller to–for George W. Bush, Peggy Noonan (som jeg er en stor fan af og mange gange har citeret her på stedet), giver i sin faste klumme i dagens Wall Street Journal smæk til de nuværende Republikaneres administration af Reagans parti:
"[This past week's Time magazine cover] had a picture of Ronald Reagan with a tear drawn in, to illustrate a piece on the current Republican Party. Actually it was a good piece in that it suggested a simple truth: The portion of the Republican Party that is based in and lives off the American capital has lost its way. They used to stand for conservative principles and now they stand for–well, whatever it is they stand for. I've written the past few years that the modern Democratic Party has been undone in part by its successes, that it achieved what it worked for in terms of Social Security, the safety net and civil rights, and that a great coalition has now devolved into a mere conglomeration of interest groups. I don't see why Time shouldn't similarly indict the Republicans. I think many of us would agree both parties seem like exhausted little volcanoes, and that they are driven more by hunger than belief.
The Time story turned the discussion again to Reagan and the shadow he casts, and that's what people are talking about: What would Reagan think, what would Reagan do? So let's posit the obvious. Reagan was great, a one-man hinge of history. He led and encouraged a national effort to rethink the relations of the individual and the federal establishment, to rethink what was owed to and legitimately expected of the state. He increased our security by increasing our strength and removing from the historical stage an evil ideology that had become an evil empire. "The Soviet Union fell." It didn't fall, somebody pushed it.
Here we should stop, for here things become confused. There seems to be a temperamental difference between the two parties regarding their heroes. Democrats are inspired by their greats (FDR, JFK) and spooked by their failures (McGovern, Carter). Republicans ignore their failures (who talks about Hoover?) and are spooked by their greats.
And when you're spooked by someone, or have been beaten by someone, resentment creeps in.
Democrats look back and think Reagan was magic, or rather had some strange and secret magic. The smile, the charm, the humor–that's why he looms! It was Mike Deaver and the balloons! It was his optimism! But Reagan never said he was optimistic. He wasn't "optimistic," he was faithful and practical. He said we could turn around the economy and beat communism. Then we did it. Which left everyone feeling optimistic.
Reagan should be an inspiration for every person in politics who stands for something at a cost and because it is right.
But he should inspire, he shouldn't demoralize. Republicans should stop allowing the media to spook them with his memory. Democrats should stop resenting him and dreaming up new reasons behind his success.
For Republicans especially he should be a reorienting memory. He was modern conservatism. If they are for more government, more spending, a more imposing state, what are they?
For Democrats he should function as a reminder that ideas and philosophy count, that they give politics meaning.
Republicans should take heart from his memory but not be sunk in him or spooked by him. Life moves. Reagan's meaning cannot be forgotten. But where does it get you if it's 1885, and Republicans are pulling their hair out saying, "Oh no, we're not doing well. We could win if only we had a Lincoln, but they shot him 20 years ago!" That's not how serious people talk, and it's not how serious people think. You face the challenges of your time with the brains and guts you have. You can't sit around and say, "Oh what would Lincoln do?" For one thing it is an impractical attitude. Lincolns don't come along every day. What you want to do with the memory of a great man is recognize his greatness, laud it, take succor from it, and keep moving. You can't be transfixed by a memory. Hold it close and take it into the future with you. …
Doesn't matter what you call yourself, matters who you are. Reagan wasn't magic. He was serious, farsighted and brave about the great issues of his time. Republican candidates could try that. If they did, it would have a secondary benefit. They'd start respecting themselves instead of merely being full of themselves. This would help them stop being spooked."
Siden George Allens kampagne–og politiske karriere–imploderede så ynkeligt sidste år, har den del af det Republikanske Parti, der i mangel af bedre, bedst kan betegnes som “Reagan-fløjen” stået uden en naturlig kandidat. Nej, faktisk har man stået uden nogen kandidat. Det har fået mange til at se sig rundt omkring, for om der dog ikke kunne være nogen, man kunne stille op. Én, der ikke som McCain er sådan lidt småupålidelig, når det gælder statslig indblanding i økonomien. Én der ikke, som Giuliani, reelt er så ukonservativ, at det gør noget. Én der ikke, som Mitt Romney, er mormon. Og én der ikke–øvrige kvaliteter uberørt–som Newt Gingrich har omtrent lige så høje negative “ratings” som O.J. Simpson. Nå ja, og så gerne én, der er relativt kendt, ikke er en levebrødspolitiker, og er udbredt velllidt. En slags Reagan.
Om det er dét–en CABAL eller “talent contest” organiseret af Heritage Foundation m.fl.–der er ved at manifestere sig nu, skal jeg ikke kunne sige, men lige pludselig er der ved at tegne sig billedet af en mulighed, der ihvertfald er interessant.
Og så skifter vi lige emne–et øjeblik.
Jeg har i mere end et årti (faktisk siden jeg fulgte første sæson i USA i begyndelsen af 1990erne) været en inkarneret fan af den amerikanske krimi-koncern/serie “Law & Order” (som nu er den længst kørende serie i TV-historien). Ok, ikke alle “spin-offs” er lige gode–jeg er f.eks. ikke meget begejstret for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, og “Law & Order: Trial By Jury” nåede aldrig at slå igennem. Men originalserien–også de gamle afsnit–er altid værd at se (igen og igen, som man kan næsten hver aften på Hallmark), og det samme er “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” med den fabelagtigt excentriske Vincent D’Onofrio (som Kanal 5 viser herhjemme–midt om natten). Og jeg var særligt glad for nogle sæsoner siden, da man til originalserien skulle finde en ny offentlig anklager. I et årti havde Steven Hill spillet rollen som den gamle sure District Attorney, og det havde han gjort perfekt. Derefter overtog Diane Wiest i en sæson eller to, men hun var ikke spor sej, og det lignende en gang “lad os prøve noget andet med en, der ikke er en gammel, hvid mand”. Og hvem tog de så? En erfaren skuespiller, der samtidig passede godt til rollen, fordi han er gammel advokat og ved, hvordan det er at stille op til valg: Den fhv. Republikanske senator Fred D. Thompson.
Det glædede mig særligt, fordi jeg–udover længe at have syntes, at han var en god skuespiller (bl.a. i Clint Eastwoods “In the Line of Fire” og i flere andre, hvor han typisk spiller præsident, stabschef eller efterretningsmand)–havde bemærket to ting ved ham: At han havde et klart liberalistisk islæt i sine holdninger, og at han–i modsætning til de fleste politikere–bevidst fravalgte at blive karrierepolitiker i resten af sin levetid. Han trak sig således frivilligt efter blot halvanden periode i senatet, og i de otte år han sad der, opnåede han p.b.a. sin stemmeadfærd at blive klassificeret som “libertarian” af Republican Liberty Caucus, som “ratede” ham 70 af 100 på personlig frihed og 87 af 100 på økonomisk frihed. Meget kunne have set anderledes ud, om andre medlemmer af kongressen stemte på den måde–eller hvis en præsident stod for noget lignende.
“Thompson, who plays district attorney Arthur Branch on NBC’s drama Law & Order, said Sunday that he’s going to “leave the door open” and make a decision in the coming months.
“I’m going to wait and see what happens,” Thompson said. “I want to see my colleagues on the campaign trial, what they say, what they emphasize, whether they can carry the ball next November.”
“I think people are somewhat disillusioned. A lot of people are cynical out there. They’re looking for something different,” he said.”
Det er muligt, at det ikke er alvorligt ment. Det er muligt, at det ikke bliver til noget. Det er muligt, at det slet ikke ville være noget at råbe hurra for. Men det er ihvertfald en ganske interessant udvikling–og der er (selvfølgelig) allerede en impromptu “Draft Fred 08”-kampagne, ligesom der er TV-klip og kommentarer bl.a. her. Her er Wall Street Journals indsigtsfulde politiske redaktør, John Fund, med en historie fra dagens avis:
Lights, Camera . . . Candidacy? Fred Thompson is shaking up the GOP presidential field. And he’s not even running yet.
BY JOHN FUND Saturday, March 17, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
NEW YORK–“Expect her to recount every moment of her ordeal,” the savvy district attorney mused to his deputy. “There won’t be a dry eye in the jury.”
“That’s a take!” says a director of the hit NBC series “Law and Order.” With that, Fred Thompson, the former U.S. senator from Tennessee who has played “strict constructionist” prosecutor Arthur Branch for the past four years, walks back with me to his dressing room to talk about a new role he might soon be undertaking: surprise Republican presidential candidate.
It is a slightly surreal setting to be talking big-league politics. But not unprecedented. In 1965, Ronald Reagan held early strategy meetings on his nascent race for governor of California on the set of “Death Valley Days.” In 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped off a plane from a world-wide publicity tour for his last “Terminator” film and immediately huddled with advisers on his own campaign for governor. Both men effectively used their celebrity status to completely transform the races they entered.
So too may Fred Thompson. When we meet on Thursday night, it’s only been four days since he appeared on Fox News to merely announce he was “looking at” running. Chuck Todd, the political director of NBC News, notes in amazement how “a retired senator can show a tiny bit of interest and literally shake up the race overnight.”
And he is shaking up the race. Every GOP candidate is nervously watching the reaction to his possible entry. J.C. Watts, an Oklahoma congressman from 1995 to 2003, has endorsed him: “I define Fred Thompson as AC, what’s AC? All class.”
Fan blogs for “Law and Order”
note that since the show
is especially popular among women, a Thompson race could help close the GOP’s “gender gap.” The most pithy comment is from Craig Hammond, a former mayor of Bluefield, W.Va. He told the Bluefield News: “He’s the tall timber we’ve been waiting for. He’s the total package. He can hold the red states and pick up a few blue ones along the way.”
But Mr. Thompson appears serene about all the speculation swirling around him. “Those running are all good guys, and would be good presidents,” he says leaning back in a recliner. “But there are truly vital issues–from the looming entitlement crisis to nuclear proliferation–I’m not afraid to talk about. Lots of people have such a low regard for politicians that they’re open to a campaign that would be completely different.”
So how would a possible Thompson campaign be distinctive? “Politics is now one big 24-hour news cycle, but we seem to spend less time than ever on real substance,” he muses. “What if someone harnessed the Internet and other technologies and insisted in talking about real issues in more depth than consultants would advise? What if they took risks with their race in hopes that the risks to our children could be reduced through building a mandate for good policy?”
Bluntly put, Fred Thompson had a reputation for being lazy in wanting to do the political chores that come with office. People openly question if he has “the fire in the belly” to really make a serious race.
“They used to say I moved slowly,” he chuckles. “But I move deliberately. I won every one of my races by more than 20 points in a state Clinton carried twice.”
On issues, he addresses head-on the major complaints conservatives have about his record. He was largely stymied in his 1997 investigation of both Clinton-Gore and GOP campaign fund-raising abuses: Key witnesses declined to testify or fled the country, though evidence eventually surfaced of a Chinese plan to influence U.S. politics. He won’t argue with those who say he showed “naiveté” about how he would be stonewalled in his investigation. He says he’s wiser now.
Many on the right remain angry he supported the campaign finance law sponsored by his friend John McCain. “There are problems with people giving politicians large sums of money and then asking them to pass legislation,” Mr. Thompson says. Still, he notes he proposed the amendment to raise the $1,000 per person “hard money” federal contribution limit.
Conceding that McCain-Feingold hasn’t worked as intended, and is being riddled with new loopholes, he throws his hands open in exasperation. “I’m not prepared to go there yet, but I wonder if we shouldn’t just take off the limits and have full disclosure with harsh penalties for not reporting everything on the Internet immediately.”
Mr. Thompson has also been criticized for failing to back some comprehensive tort-reform bills because of his background as a trial lawyer. Here he insists his stance was based on grounds of federalism. “I’m consistent. I address Federalist Society meetings,” he says, noting that more issues should be left to the states. For example, he cast the lonely “nay” in 99-1 votes against a national 0.8% blood alcohol level for drivers, a federal law banning guns in schools, and a measure limiting the tort liability of Good Samaritans. “Washington overreaches, and by doing so ends up not doing well the basics people really care about.” Think Katrina and Walter Reed.
Indeed, the federal government’s inability to function effectively would likely be a major theme of any Thompson campaign. “Audits have shown we’ve lost control of the waste and mismanagement in our most important agencies. It’s getting so bad it’s affecting our national security.”
Mr. Thompson says that while a senator he was long concerned with U.S. intelligence failures. “The CIA has better politicians than it has spies,” he says, referring to the internecine turf wars that have been a feature of the Bush administration.
A key problem, Mr. Thompson notes, is a general lack of accountability in government, where no one pays any price for failure. When asked about President Bush’s awarding the Medal of Freedom to outgoing CIA Director George Tenet after U.S. intelligence failures in Iraq became apparent, he shakes his head: “I just didn’t understand that.”
The next president, according to Mr. Thompson, needs to exercise strong leadership “and get down in the weeds and fix a civil-service system that makes it too hard to hire good employees and too hard to fire bad ones.” He doesn’t offer specifics on what to do, but notes the “insanity” of the new Congress pushing for the unionization of homeland security employees only five years after it rejected the notion in the wake of 9/11. “Should we tie ourselves up in bureaucratic knots with the challenges we may have to face?” he asks in wonderment.
The challenges, he says, are numerous. On Iraq, he admits “we are left with nothing but bad choices.” However, he says the “worst choice” would be to have Osama bin Laden proven right when he predicted America wouldn’t have the stomach for a tough fight. The costs of Iraq have been high, but they could be even higher “if we have another stain on America like that infamous scene from Saigon 1975 in which our helicopters took off leaving those who supported us grabbing at the landing skids.”
Mr. Thompson is especially worried about nuclear proliferation. He serves as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, along with former Clinton CIA Director Jim Woolsey and former Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb. The board recently received an unclassified briefing that convinced him three or four countries in the Middle East are “on the cusp” of acquiring nuclear weapons should the Iranians carry through with their own weapons program.
He urges continued pressure on Iran, which he says has grave domestic problems. “Iran may fall of its own weight, and we can help that by offering vocal support to dissident groups and making effective use of the airwaves to reach its people.”
On domestic issues, Mr. Thompson says a major reason Republicans lost last November was that they aided and abetted runaway government spending. Yet Democrats, he contends, are incapable of following through on their pledges to be fiscally prudent. “Their political coalition needs more revenue like a car requires gasoline,” he laughs. “Reagan showed what can be done if you have the will to push for tough choices and the ability to ask the people to accept them.”
But Mr. Thompson says those tough choices shouldn’t include the tax increases contemplated in the new budget released by Senate Democrats this week. “The phony static accounting the government uses has obscured just how successful the 2003 tax cuts have been in boosting the economy,” he says. “Lower marginal tax rates have proven to be a key to prosperity now by Kennedy, Reagan and Bush. It’s time millionaires serving in the Senate learned not to overly tax other people trying to get wealthy.”
Mr. Thompson says he can compete with Democrats in talking plainly about the anxiety many Americans have about the economy, despite good macro numbers. “Someone who is 18 today may well have 10 employers in their career,” he says. “That’s completely different from how their parents lived. I would address that insecurity and help people adapt without shooting ourselves in the foot with protectionism and income redistribution. I had 10 employers before I finished law school.”
Fred Thompson clearly hasn’t decided whether to run for president; and he underestimates just how much the traditional fund-raising he disdains may be necessary for his long-shot campaign. But he has assets that add up to an impressive portfolio.
As Republican counsel in the Watergate hearings, he began building a reputation as a straight-shooter. It was he who asked the question that forced a White House deputy to admit that Richard Nixon had
secretly recorded his Oval Office conversations.
Later in the 1970s he played a key role in exposing a Tennessee cash-for-pardons scandal; his acting career began when he won the part of playing himself in the 1985 movie version of the story. Today, his national exposure is greater than ever with a dozen of his movies playing as TV repeats. All of this month he is substituting for radio legend Paul Harvey, whose show is heard on more than 1,200 stations.
So many voters remain unsold on any of the current GOP contenders that Mr. Thompson just might trade his TV sound stage for a campaign microphone. As this is the first truly open Republican nomination fight in decades, the party might as well revel in the competition it claims to cherish in other parts of life. “
Det kunne–set fra dette ringhjørne–godt være meget værre–og det er ihvertfald interessant. Hvis Thompson bestemmer sig for at forsøge, er mit gæt, at han vil få en stor del af de tvivlende republikanske primærvalgsvægere, spise størstedelen af Gingrichs tilslutning, meget af Romneys, en del af McCains og noget af Giulianis, og at det i sidste ende vil kunne blive et valg mellem ham og sidstnævnte. Men jeg har taget voldsomt fejl før …
With the passing of Gerald Ford, we have lost more than a former president who served the nation honorably in trying times. The Republican Party has also lost its last link to a tradition it once embraced. Gone now is any trace of the solid Midwestern ethics that Ford personified – things like not spending more than you take in, being skeptical about the use of force, and not imposing one's values on others.
Gone also is any trace of the Western-style libertarianism that Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan exemplified. Instead, we now have a Republican Party that has imposed vast financial costs on future generations just to win a few votes today, that is hasty and imprudent in the use of force, and that takes a virtually puritanical approach to imposing on everyone the views of evangelical Christians.
Ford and Reagan were much closer to each other philosophically than either of them would be to George W. Bush. Although Reagan and Ford faced off against each other for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976, they weren't really fighting over basic principles – on those, they mostly agreed with each other. The big debate was about political strategy and tactics.
The Reagan people thought that Ford was insufficiently bold in pursuing a conservative agenda – when he declined, for example, to propose a permanent tax cut and instead, in 1975, offered only a one-shot tax rebate. The Reagan people thought that the Ford people had essentially given up hope of turning around the ship of state and that the best they could do was just keep the ship from sinking on their watch.
Indeed, there was a certain fatalism to the way Ford viewed his options. He had been elected to the House of Representatives in 1948, and during all but two of his long years of service there, the Democrats were in the majority, and Republicans could do little to pursue their agenda. Moreover, in 1974, the Democrats greatly increased their majority, putting many aggressive liberals in positions of leadership for the first time. (The chairmanship of the House Democratic Caucus, for instance, passed from the relatively conservative Olin Teague of Texas to the liberal Phil Burton of California.)
Consequently, Ford saw no chance for any legislation that might fix the problems caused by price controls on energy or skyrocketing entitlement programs. He had his hands full just beating back measures that would have increased spending and made matters worse. But at least he knew how to use his veto pen and did so on 66 occasions in a little more than two years. The fact that Ford was overridden 12 times – the second largest number of any president * – shows just how difficult his political position was.
The circumstances of the time were atrocious. The nation suffered the worst economic recession since the Great Depression** on Ford's watch, yet inflation remained unacceptably high. The Vietnam War was officially lost while Ford was president. And the Soviet Union was at the peak of its military and political power.
The point is that it was not unreasonable to think, as Ford did, that the best that could be done was just to keep things from getting worse. Some of his younger aides, such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, no doubt chafed at this reality. This may explain why they still exhibit a kind of bunker mentality when criticized. They remember too well the unfair criticism of Ford in 1975 and 1976, when many national problems were simply out of his control.
The more optimistic Reagan people saw the Ford approach as defeatism. In crisis there is opportunity, they thought. And as outsiders, they weren't awed by the power of the Democratic leadership, the national media or the federal bureaucracy. The Reagan people thought that strong leadership and new ideas about foreign and domestic policy could overcome these forces.
In 1976, Ford probably had the better of this argument. The country wasn't ready for Reagan that year, and Reagan himself wasn't really ready to be president either. The nation needed the experience of Jimmy Carter to make Reagan's presidency possible. The American people needed to give the conventional wisdom one last shot at fixing the country's problems before they would be open to new conservative ideas. And Reagan needed time out of office to study and think and discuss these ideas, and learn to articulate them and how to implement them.***
By contrast, the current President Bush came to office without ever having had the humbling experience of laboring for years as a minority leader in Congress or the long years of thought and study Reagan put in on the problems of public policy. From his life in the West, Bush picked up none of Goldwater's libertarianism, but instead absorbed the bravado and evangelicalism that are characteristic of many Texans.
I would be less concerned if I thought Bush was an isolated case of a president out of step with his own party, as Carter was. What bothers me is that I don't see anyone in the Republican Party today who exemplifies either Ford's philosophy or Reagan's. Yet I believe that many at the party's grass roots yearn for a leader who has Ford's humility and prudence and Reagan's optimism and love of ideas, and none of Bush's overconfidence and anti-intellectualism.
* Andrew Johnson was overridden the most times, with 15 overrides. Ford is tied with Harry Truman, but Truman served almost four times as long.
** It's a source of some irritation to me that politicians are always saying that the latest recession was the worst since the Great Depression. By any measure, the one Ford dealt with was the worst. Raw data can be foundhere.
*** To learn about the research Reagan did in the late 1970s and the evolution of his thinking, I strongly recommend reading"Reagan's Path to Victory," by Kiron Skinner, Annelise Anderson and Martin Anderson, which contains many of Reagan's own writings. Clearly, by 1980, he was much better prepared to be president than he was in 1976.
Denne blogs faste læser “Repsak” har privat gjort os opmærksomme på, at US State Dept. er begyndt at lægge gamle udenrigspolitiske klip ud på deres hjemmeside. Her på stedet tvivler vi på, om det i det store billede er en Pareto-forberende investering–men når de nu engang ligger der, så kan man da nyde at se f.eks. et ualmindeligt klassisk og smukt klip som dette.
Den neo-konservative journalist og kommentator Fred Barnes har i weekendudgaven af Wall Street Journal et interview med og portræt af senator George Allen (R-VA), som trofaste læsere vil vide, at nærværende punditokrat snart utallige gange (og ihvertfald længere end de fleste andre) har tippet til at ville blive Republikanernes præsidentkandidat i 2008. (Jeg skal dog bemærke, at jeg på det seneste i stigende grad har hæftet mig ved senator John McCains (R-AZ) vellykkede strategiske manøvrer, mens et kandidatur for Rudy Giuliani eller Condolezza Rice omvendt ikke synes at have nogen gang på jorden.)* I interviewet sammenfattes Allens grundsynspunkt således:
[He] disagrees with Mr. Bush on the scope of the federal government. The president accepts its size as a given and advocates using it for conservative ends. Mr. Allen says he has "a libertarian sense." He describes himself as more in sync with Thomas Jefferson and Ronald Reagan than with George Bush. "I'm one who dislikes limits. I don't like restrictions. I like freedom. I like liberty. Unless you're harming someone else, you leave people free."
For nærværende skribent lyder det ikke så ringe endda, men af interviewet fremgår det imidlertid også, at Allen i praksis har et relativt pragmatisk syn på, hvornår statslige indgreb i folks frihed alligevel er acceptable. Om det skyldes manglende intellektuel konsistens eller er nødvendige pragmatiske hensyn foranlediget af meningsmålinger og fokusgrupper er svært at sige. Uanset hvad, tror jeg allerede nu, at et godt gæt vil være, at medierne senest i 2008 vil fremstille Allen som en overfladisk, intellektuel letvægter, der primært taler i klichéer og soundbites. (Lyder det iøvrigt bekendt?)
Og apropos Republikanerne og 2008, så har det næsten altid fortrinlige The Economist i denne uge hovedhistorie og leder om emnet, hvor man giver denne rammende karakteristik af partiets image: "The ideological shine has gone, too. The party of streamlined government has been gorging on legislative pork. A party that once prided itself on businesslike pragmatism has become synonymous with ideologically skewed ineptitude …" I den forbindelse genfortælles bl.a. denne vittighed fra konservative kredse i USA om Republikanernes aktuelle "succes": Hvad er forskellen på "Titanic" og det Republikanske Parti? I det mindste forsøgte "Titanic" ikke at ramme isbjerget …
At det tænksomme ugeskrift er kritisk overfor Bush og Republikanerne bør dog ikke misforstås som, at man er begejstret for Demokraterne. Her er noget af, hvad lederen skriver om dét parti og dets politiske linie:
"Nowadays "the alternative to Bush" is a muddle of vacuous populism and meaningless slogans … Worst of all, the Democrats are marching backwards.
Take the party's economic policies. Mr Clinton stood for free trade and (after some retraining) a balanced budget. In 1993, 102 House Democrats, less than half the total, voted for the North American Free-Trade Agreement. Last year, only 15 Democrats defied the unions to vote for a smaller trade bill, the Central American Free-Trade Agreement. In the usually wiser Senate, only 11 out of 44 Democrats supported the bill, and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton were not among them. As for the budget, the Democrats' main criticism of Mr Bush's splurge is that he has not spent enough.
This, sadly, is symptomatic. Some Democrats are trying to unpick Mr Clinton's welfare reforms. Despite the party's rhetoric about protecting the poor, it has blocked most serious attempts to improve the schools poor children are condemned to attend. As for national security, the party seems to be veering ever further to the Michael Mooreish left. Two years ago, Mr Kerry savaged Mr Bush over Iraq, but talked relatively responsibly about a gradual withdrawal. Now the call from many of the party's leaders is to bring the troops home nowand hang the consequences for the region.
Familiar vested interests are sometimes at work. The Democrats' relationship with the teachers' unions is just as crony-ridden as (and even more damaging to America's long-term interests than) the White House's ties to Big Oil. But there is also something new eating away at the Democratic brain: fury at Mr Bush. And though Bush-bashing may be understandable, it also looks increasingly counterproductive. The risk for the Democrats is that, although Mr Bush will retire to Crawford in 2009, he will have defined them as an anti-Bush partyisolationist because he was interventionist, anti-business because he was pro-business. Mr Rove would love that. …
The real danger facing the Democrats is that they become a permanent minority partya coalition that enjoys support from the super-rich, a few minorities and the working poor, but is out of touch with the suburban middle class, not to mention America's broader interests. Such a party might sneak a victory this year, thanks to Mr Rumsfeld et al, but then get hammered by, say, John McCain in 2008.
Two years ago, this newspaper narrowly favoured Mr Kerry's incoherence over Mr Bush's incompetence (see article). Since then, Republican incompetence has exceeded even our worst fears. How depressing to report that Democratic incoherence has soared too. America deserves better."
* Intrade.com har p.t. McCain til 39,5 og Allen til 22,2, hvilket er en fremgang for begge og yderligere konsolidering af deres frontløber-positioner. Til sammenligning ligger Giuliani på under 10 og Rice på det halve. Hilary Clinton ligger fortsat uforandret suverænt i spidsen for det Demokratiske felt (ca. 45).