Moderate Republicanism is not intellectually dead. So where is it?
I don’t know how to say goodbye to a magazine that’s been my home since I was a 23 year old intern one year out of college, where I’ve made some of the best friends in my life, and whose identity has become almost indistinct from my own. Since deciding to accept a job at New York magazine, I’ve tried to write that goodbye, but nothing seems adequate to the scale of the task before me. So, as I’ve learned to do in the face of deadlines, I’m just writing. My love affair with the New Republic began in college.
The normal way to measure changes in the scope of taxes or spending is to account for changes in the size of population and the value of the currency. If the government creates a program to, say, give free lunches to poor schoolchildren, then that program will expend more dollars over time as things get more expensive and the number of schoolchildren increases. When conservatives tabulate the size of government, they frequently use alternate methods, such as ignoring the changing size of the population, ignoring inflation, or both.
He proposes a jobs plan that wins the approval of Paul Krugman and David Brooks. Feel the love! Surfing on over to Fire Dog Lake, I wondered if Obama managed to win the hearts of his most fervent enemies. So far I see one item on it: So how was the speech? I didn’t see it, did Obama open up with a line about how many people he’s killed? That's about as positive as you're going to get.
It always seemed clear to me, though it has not seemed clear to many liberals, that the exquisite care President Obama takes to establish his reasonableness and moderation is the first step of a two-step process.
Before I get to commenting on President Obama's speech tonight, I should note this ridiculous "fact check" piece by the Associated Press: President Barack Obama's promise Thursday that everything in his jobs plan will be paid for rests on highly iffy propositions. It will only be paid for if a committee he can't control does his bidding, if Congress puts that into law and if leaders in the future — the ones who will feel the fiscal pinch of his proposals — don't roll it back. Is this serious? That criticism can be made of any proposal to offset the cost of tax cuts or spending.
My plan is to stay here blogging the next couple of days, and since it's my last couple of days at TNR, I may as well go out in a blaze of hippie-punching. Democratic message consultant Drew Westen, whose New York Times cri de coeur of liberal frustration gained wide acclaim despite, or perhaps because of, its massive factual and historical errors, has another piece responding to your truly. He begins by implying that my response to him was part of a coordinated administration campaign: [I]n a cover story in The New York Times a month ago, I questioned whether he has it in his DNA to lead.
The most intellectually interesting portion of tonight's Republican presidential debate occurred in its opening moments, when Rick Perry and Mitt Romney sparred over their states’ record of job creation. Perry cited his states record of creating jobs. Romney replied that his state inherited a worse situation, and wound up with a lower level of unemployment, while of course ignoring that Perry has governed during a recession.
My piece in the New York Times magazine last weekend about President Obama and the left kicked up a lot of debate. The thesis was that the left's criticisms that Obama failed to secure enough stimulus. Let me address a couple objections I've seen. One argument claims that my argument hinges on the premise that those who argued for more stimulus are unimportant. Here's what I wrote: It’s worth recalling that several weeks before Obama proposed an $800 billion stimulus, House Democrats had floated a $500 billion stimulus.
Dave Barry had a running bit called "Ask Mister Language Person," in which he would dispense grammatical advice as if the rules of grammar were the common uses of the language rather than the real ones.