Has Mitt Romney committed himself to severe cuts in government spending, undermining programs on which not just poor but also middle class Americans depend? That question has been the subject of debate lately, with smart people like Ross Douthat asserting that Romney's position is less extreme, and less conservative, than liberal critics like me have assumed. I respectfully disagree.
Barack Obama gave the best speech of his presidency tonight. It was angry, direct, and entirely appropriate to the occasion—an “economic crisis,” which, as he said, has been made worse by a “political crisis.” He spoke to the Congress, but also over their head to their constituents, and appealed to them to put pressure on their representatives. His proposal to help the economy was not perfect—too much consisted of tax cuts and not spending—but for once the scale of the proposal, $450 billion, fit the crisis, and if enacted, would help and not damage the economy.
Last week the Bush administration reached its Nixonian climax, as CIA director Michael Hayden confirmed that the government had nearly drowned some people on purpose using techniques that American military men have long known as torture. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the Department of Justice could not investigate these alleged crimes. White House spokesman Tony Fratto explained why the President may authorize them again. Vice President Dick Cheney declared them a good thing.