Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Random Observations

1. You don’t have be a big-time social scientist to know that, as long as the stock market bleeding continues, McCain’s will too.

2. The election today would be a landslide. And a lot of the election IS today (and yesterday); a huge amount of early voting is going on.

3. It’s very possible--almost likely--that the early voting will carry Obama to victory in Georgia. He’s within the margin of error in the most recent poll. Senator Chambliss, the most recent studies show, has even less chance of holding on.

4. The Republican blame game today is mainly on how McCain isn’t a true conservative. That’s true, of course, in this sense: He doesn’t really "get" the characteristic conservative take on domestic issues. Mac didn’t make a secret of that, and he won the nomination as a "warrior" opposed to the waffling Romney who could do nothing more than articulate our "interests."

5. But, truth to tell, Mac’s hyper-patriotic convention speech doesn’t speak at all to the anxious concerns ordinary Americans have today. WELL, maybe it could in this way: I want to a lead Americans in the direction of honorable self-discipline. I’m phasing out Fannie Mae etc. I want us to return to the time of 20% down on home mortages, based on an honest appraisal. I’m not against the "rescue" etc. to ease the pain in the short-term, but over the long-term we don’t want overly politicized and insufficiently risk-averse institutions such as Fannie Mae to keep tempting Amreicans to lose all sense of prudence in their personal finances.

6. The average American is complaining that he didn’t really know how risky investing in stocks is. He knew that the market would have its ups and downs. But not like this. The whole 401(k) retirement strategy seems discredited, and people really do want government to do something to make retirement planning less risky.

7. There are lots of articles, including one by a professor in the local paper, that say that the era of neo-liberalism is over. That means that the rough consensus on behalf of market-based globalization that included Clinton, Bushes, Thatcher, and Blair is collapsing. That consensus, of course, is one reason I always preferred Hillary to Obama. But it’s not so clear how Obama stands on "neo-liberalism." Rubin, who really and truly does excel at "trickle-down economics," is an Obama advisor. The leaders in the Democratic Congress are another mattter.

8. The likely result of this election is an extension of 2006. The landslide two years ago was based on the perception of incompetence, cluelessness, and corruption among the Republicans. Well, that perception is back. McCain and our Sarah have responded to the crisis in a way that’s spun by the MSM and actuallly seems, I’m sad to say, clueless, and they’re not exuding competence. The corruption should point to Fannie and Democratic Congressional leders, but the Wall-Street (allegedly Republican) greed "narrative" is carrying the day, because nobody very visible is opposing it effectivley.

9. I was on a great panel discussion on Saturday morning at Georgetown with Gil Meilaender and William Saletan. Saletan really knows his stuff and is a pleasure to hang out with. His take on the election: Don’t worry, Obama is boring. Saletan really is a maverick when it comes to his unusual--yet quite defensible--combination of opinions and insights, which I’ll talk about later. (Nobody inside the Beltway thinks McCain has a chance, and everyone agree that this Ayers stuff ain’t working.) Gil, of course, is great too, although not so obviously political. The event was sponsored by our Dr. Pat Deneen, who will admit over lunch that some of our present woes might have their source in evildoers in the Democratic Congress

Discussions - 5 Comments

Peter, many fine observations here. One caution or comment: has there ever been any other case where a candidate has gotten himself elected by causing or at least vastly aggravating a problem and then pointing to himself as the cure?

There is no way that normal economic causes can explain a 40% selloff of stock equities, at leas not the 20% that went up in smoke in the last couple of weeks. When every single act taken by the central bankers, pouring trillions of dollars into markets, is simply disregarded by a determined downward march, the problem isn't economic -- it's political (political economy is what the central bankers don't have and don't understand).

Markets viewing the future -- which they always do -- are increasingly sure that Obama will win -- and they are registering a collective boo. More taxes, more regulation, more redistribution, less market freedom are all threatening the future of investments. Thus there is nothing Bush and his G-whatever friends can do to stop the fall. Mac could do something effectively to stop the madness -- but the words "gold standard" are verboten in the era of Whitmans, Fiorinas, and Buffetts, so you won't see him use the "golden bullet" that could yet surge him into the White House if only he were as bold in political economy as he is in military strategy.

A couple of observations,

1. It is not very comforting that Obama is boring. One can have alot of equanamity and still govern very ideologically. Reagan is a case in point. McCain is much more volatile than Obama, but would likely govern as more of a moderate. If anything, a calm persona is an aid to radical governance.

2. Romney would not be doing any better than McCain in the present situation. When did Romney ever connect with the public on the economy during the primaries? The only time I can recall was during the Michigan primary when he sold some hokum about bringing back the auto industry. Besides, when people picture the kind of sharp, rich, operater that caused the present crisis, they see someone like Romney.

3. What the Republicans needed in this crisis was someone who combined the common touch of Huckabee with the policy mastery of Bobby Jindal. The problem is that no such person exists. It also shows how unlikely a Republican victory would be under such circumstances regardless of what kind of campaign McCain ran.

4. Having said that, McCain made huge strategic errors in not focusing more on his domestic policy proposals (especially on healthcare) and not proposing a more working-class and middle-class friendly tax program in August and September. McCain missed oppurtunity after oppurtunity to present himself as a domestic policy reformer and now it is almost certainly too late.

Well stated Pete. The only question I have is McCain's ability to govern as "more of a moderate". I think the man is capable of some serious radicalisms (campaign finance "reform", etc.)...


The Republican blame game today is mainly on how McCain isn’t a true conservative. That’s true, of course, in this sense

It's true in many (most) other senses as well. In fact, simply being right about Iraq does not count as far as being a "foreign policy conservative". Think about how wrong he is on interrogations and immigration.

I can't really see how he is a conservative at all, besides a bumbling, arrogant not-really-meaning-it sort of way...

"That means that the rough consensus on behalf of market-based globalization that included Clinton, Bushes, Thatcher, and Blair is collapsing..." Collapsing or consolidating power? When the rubble settles who will be left? Might it be the global corporations and huge mega banks?


On the issue of the conservative blame game..................Ron Paul, someone mentioned the gold standard, was that not the basis of his message? The gold standard is something easy to understand and call for, but most don't understand what the Federal Reserve System is and what took place to get it to happen. What I mean by this is the last two presidents to go against central banks were Lincoln with Greenbacks and JFK with the same thing. Both men were murdured. The questions surrounding these murders still exist.

IN close about the economy, someone with experience in supply side or trickle down theory explain to me how an economy runs when you reduce purchasing power and replace it with credit over a 30 year period. Also explain tax cuts....what good do they do? Does the government limit spending? Do the business people invest the cuts in job creation when the market is bad and expansion will not lead to profits?

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