Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Clinton-Gingrich Cap

Twenty-odd years ago, radical conservatives told themselves that the national debt could be useful as a club to pound the so-called welfare state. So they cut taxes on the rich and raised military spending, by scaring hell out of people with wars and rumors of war. They used the resulting deficit to whack hell out of Social Security -- a game they’re still playing.

Then along came the New Democrats, led by Bill Clinton. They also aimed to repeal the New Deal but with a twist. They were going to bring back the virtues of Hoover Republicanism. In eight years they balanced the budget, and seemed on the way to paying off the national debt. Earlier on, though, the new Democrats managed to lose control of Congress and much more. Clinton made a deal with Newt Gingrich to put us into a straitjacket. It was a rule that any increase in spending must be accompanied by money to pay for it. So the budget has remained balanced, except for the Bush tax cuts and the Bush wars. Liberals say meeting our most urgent needs is simple, just shave a few points off the schedule of future tax cuts. Bush replies that he’d veto any bill that did that , and the liberals don’t have the votes to override him or even close debate and bring an issue to the floor. That brings the issue to the streets. Americans overwhelmingly favor all that the New Deal has done for them, and can still do for them. What they need to learn is that the Clinton wing now in control of the Democratic party is no friend of theirs.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Plucked Again

The spin word for today is pluck. The Times said it was a “Day of Pluck and Patience.” The News thumped its chest and roared, “After All, WE’RE NEW YORKERS!" It called the Mayor “Cool Hand Mike” for coming to City Hall as if nothing had happened. Whereas something evidently did happen.

The Democrats were making a big deal about John Kerry’s pluck in Vietnam, while Dubya Bush was playing hookie back home. So somebody dug up an old laptop that belonged to one of Osama bin Laden’s pack. Four years ago, he put these five buildings down as possible targets. No further mention has been found, but the White House turned it into a delayed action bomb -- serving Osama well because it cost us millions in police measures, and serving Dubya well because it transferred voters’attention from Kerry’s pluck to ours. David Brooks makes a further point: He writes in the Times that being plucky in the field doesn’t make a man a good commander -- that after all, nearly all the men who led us into war with Iraq were chicken hawks, like Brooks himself. Case closed.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Orange Alert

Who’d believe they could change the subject so fast? Last week, Topic A was how to switch presidents. Today it’s how to duck a bomb down the street. Are they crying wolf? Well, sure. Trouble is, there are real wolves out there.

Leaving aside the home-grown variety -- like the Oklahoma City bombers, the anthrax killer and that crazy cop in the subway the other night -- there’s a growing number of wolves of the breed that attacked the World Trade Center twice, and brought it down the second time.

The Bushes, who should know them well from their family ties with the oil sheiks, keep saying the terrorists do it because they hate democracy -- so we have to suspend democracy, to save it. Well, they didn’t do a very good job on security after the first attack, did they? Mayor Giuliani turned City Hall into a fortress and built a bunker in the sky, which brought down the house.

Now obviously, we’re glad to have cops up on Wall Street checking cars, and they’re welcome to peek into our lunch bags. But making life hard for peace demonstrators is playing into Al Queda’s hands. In the Moslem world, we are hated, not because we are democratic but because we are there, as occupiers and exploiters, as armored gunmen, jail keepers and torturers. So let them see us on television as peace-loving democrats, not targets for their revenge. That is a sensible approach to homeland security.