The Republican party has made a lot of hay blaming the Obama administration for the deficit it inherited in 2009. That line of attack has become more difficult to sustain since President Obama offered Republicans a $4 trillion deficit-cutting deal tilted overwhelmingly toward spending cuts -- indeed, if we assume that the Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000 expire, it consists entirely of net spending cuts. And so, to sustain their position, Republicans have leaned heavily on the concept that budget cuts offered in private negotiations don't count. They're not real.
During the whole epistemic closure debate there was some talk about the rewards conservatives get for ideological fidelity.
These cheers are about an issue on which Barney Frank and the editors of The Wall Street Journal agree. And I agree, too. On most matters of high finance I'm more on Barney's side than that of Paul Gigot or my old friend Daniel Henninger. But this question is less a matter of politics than of honor and honesty. Some of you may recall my own idée fixe on what an editorial in Wednesday's Journal called the "credit-ratings racket" practiced by three portentous companies: Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch.
There are so many things that make The Wall Street Journal editorial page a source of personal fascination--the undying faith in voodoo economics, the staunch defense of executive privilege and disdain for independent counsels during Republican presidencies alternating with disdain for executive privilege and staunch defense of independent counsels during Democratic presidencies--but perhaps the most intriguing is the wildly promiscuous use of quotation marks. Over the years, it's become an obsession of mine. Like most of us, the Journal uses scare quotes to signify that a term is misleading.
It has become a quadrennial political ritual that, when a Democratic nominee needs a running mate, Sam Nunn's name shall be mentioned.
The best line from Paul Gigot's Rove interview: He's less persuasive on Medicare, where he insists that market reforms and health savings accounts are building a "critical mass" of popular support that will make them unrepealable. The excitement is almost overwhelming! --Isaac Chotiner
Something strange is happening to John McCain. For a long, long time, he was a pretty typical conservative. Sure, his style was eccentric--he made impolitic remarks about his own party and pointed out the hypocrisies on both sides of the aisle. And, sure, he broke with the GOP leadership on a couple of high-profile issues--campaign finance reform, tobacco taxes. McCain's truth-telling and his war against soft money made him a hero to the liberal press.
Popular opinion may still support him as against the outrageous Republican alternative, and may yet conceal ... a growing and substantial dissatisfaction because of the meager results that have followed his magnificent promises, and because of the confusion and lack of direction that his rapidly shifting and self-contradictory program embodies. --"Is Roosevelt Slipping?" TNR, August 14, 1935. As President Clinton prepares to become the first two-term Democrat since FDR, commentators on the left and the right are busy expressing skepticism about his achievement.