The debate within the Democratic Party over President Obama's incipient economic relief program is being conducted between two sides that totally misunderstand its purpose. On the one side, you have administration centrists who support a sufficiently narrow plan that can pass Congress: Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact.
The New York Post says some Jewish Republicans seem to believe so: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is facing a new challenge: He's having trouble raising money from some Jewish donors who mistakenly believe one of his opponents, Michele Bachmann, is Jewish. Some Jewish donors are telling fund-raisers for Romney, a Mormon, that while they like him, they'd rather open their wallets for the "Jewish candidate," who they don't realize is actually a Lutheran, The Post has learned. "It's a real problem," one Romney fund-raiser said.
With David Frum moving in on my dissecting Wall Street Journal editorial territory, and now Zack Beuachamp cutting in on my patented role of pointing out Pete Wehner's hackery, it becomes all the more vital that I cling to my role of ridiculing Stephen Moore, the Journal's lead economics editorial writer and my most cherished foil. Moore's latest column argues that President Obama's economic program has failed and that President Reagan's succeeded, ergo Keynesian economics is wrong and supply-side economics is correct.
-- Some more highlights from Alan Krueger's academic career. -- Christopher Hitchens asks: "Does the Texas governor believe his idiotic religious rhetoric, or is he just pandering for votes?" I ask: why not both? -- Alan Krueger's co-author on their most famous paper: "I've subsequently stayed away from the minimum wage literature for a number of reasons. First, it cost me a lot of friends." -- Inside the mind of Dick Cheney.
Matthew Yglesias points out that Ron Paul is much more of a Buchananite than a libertarian: a lot of progressives seem to be slightly confused as to who Ron Paul is. They think he’s like that one rich uncle you have, shares a lot of your basic values but hatespaying taxes and seems to take a dim view of poor people. The reality is that Paul is much closer to Pat Buchanan, a socially conservative nationalist whose idea of nationalist foreign policy is to withdraw troops from South Korea and deploy them to the Mexican border.
Ross Douthat's column today urging liberals not to overhype the theocratic roots of Republican presidential candidates has some well-taken points. But it suffers from a couple important flaws. First, Douthat doesn't provide any specific examples of liberals committing the various sins he describes. No doubt this is a function of small constraints, but it's a piece that badly needed to be a long, detail-rich essay rather than a 700-word column. The most prominent example of a study of a presidential candidate's theological beliefs is Ryan Lizza's masterful profile of Michelle Bachmann.
President Obama has nominated Alan Krueger as head of the Council of Economic Edvisors. Krueger gained fame in 1992 for a study showing that raising the minimum wage did not necessarily cost jobs. Economic models suggest that a minimum wage hike raises the cost of labor for businesses and, necessarily, decreases demand as a result.
Ben Zimmer explores the eytomology of "nerd": The earliest known example comes from an Oct. 8, 1951, Newsweek article rounding up teenager talk from around the country. “In Detroit,” according to the article, “someone who once would be called a drip or a square is now, regrettably, a nerd, or in a less severe case, a scurve.” Over the next few years, the Newsweek slang - nerd included - got rehashed in other magazines, like Reader’s Digest and Collier’s. By 1954, nerd had spread to Denver, according to an Associated Press article.
When assessing Rick Perry and the anti-intellectualism issue, here's one thing to keep in mind. Conservatives generally believe not only that George W. Bush was a true intellectual, but that this question has been settled by history, and awaits only the apologies of those who questioned the 43rd president's intellectual curiosity.
Maggie Haberman reports on the personal animosity between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry: Perry thinks "Romney stands for nothing,” said a Perry confidante. “He’s got no spine, no backbone.” ... Perry, people familiar with his views said, sees Romney as expedient, overly ambitious and unpalatable to the conservative base. Likewise, people close to Romney said he has unflattering opinions about Perry. “I think he had a few exasperating experiences with Perry, and he’s not alone in that,” said one source close to Romney. “I think Mitt thinks Perry is not that bright.” Stop it, you two!