Kevin D. Williamson
writes a sharp examination of some of the central myths propping up the sentimental (and false) attachment of some conservatives (e.g., Pat Buchanan) and other garden-variety critics of America's free trade system. "Over time," Williamson says, "Buchanan-style protectionism is much more expensive than bank bailouts, and it's premised on even worse thinking." Much of that bad thinking, it turns out, has to do with an overly-romantic (and selective) memory of the past and a willful sort of ignorance about today's realities.
Williamson also does not neglect to take into account the powerful influence of today's heightened expectations . . . though--unlike so-called "Crunchies" who tend to be-moan them as the source of our growing (as they see it) degeneracy and perhaps endemic to our system and indicative of a flaw--Williamson notes them with a hint of resignation, if not outright approval. "Higher expectations are a good thing, too -- a very American thing -- but they have to be taken in a realistic context."
Ay, there's the rub . . . for taking things in "a realistic context" (i.e., a cheerful sense of humor and recognition of life's inevitable imperfection) seems to be a thing beyond the dominating memes of both the right and left today.