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Elections

Bipartisan Dissatisfaction With the Top of the Ticket

Dissatisfaction with the available options for the 2012 Presidential election appears to be the subject of broad bi-partisan agreement.  Just today there are calls for Hillary to challenge Obama on the Democrat side and Ross Douthat's NYT column this week speaks of the GOP's "empty stage."

At Powerline, Steve Hayward--though not subscribing to the notion that the GOP stage is entirely "empty" (he also likes Pawlenty and Daniels)--suggests that Paul Ryan ought to take more seriously the idea that he has the stuff to step up onto it.  He suggests that Ryan consider that even though he's armed with a healthy list of reasons to be reluctant (a list that any casual observer of the political scene could compose) the humbling reality of political life is that, "one can't choose one's moments in politics."  That is absolutely true.  The right man at the right time is never going to have every other conceivable circumstance flowing along in a way that might be considered "right" for him.

If it were true that the right man for the right time would have no other outside obstacles to his emergence on the scene, all that would be required of democratic statesmanship in a republic would be to sit back and let it happen as part of the natural order of things.  Persuasion and politics--as we know and understand it--would be unnecessary.  It would be something akin to what some observers mistakenly believed about the emergence of Obama:  he appeared and the revelation that he was "the one" captivated the people as he was the culmination of our political history. 

Except it didn't quite happen like that.  Obama has found that "natural kings" (or, even, world historical ones) are stuck with the necessity of having to persuade a majority in this Republic.  When they don't work effectively at persuasion or they imagine that their work--upon winning--is done, they may get along for awhile . . . but it's usually a safe bet that they will overstep the limits of consent and that, as a consequence, they will suffer a rebuke.  This is what happened to Obama in November and he's been flailing around trying to regroup ever since.  Some combination of circumstance and his own efforts may prove Obama up to the challenge of this regrouping.  But the mask of invincibility is gone and he has had to engage in politics--that is, a more serious effort at persuasion including taking positions rather than mouthing vagaries.  World historical presidents turn out to be just as vulnerable as the workaday variety when operating within the confines of regime where the people are sovereign. 

When considered from that point of view, I think Steve is right to suggest that Ryan may have no other choice but to run come this fall.   As he puts it, "I can imagine a set of circumstances in which his budget proposal gets little traction against White House intransigence, and by the fall the political winds are such that entering the race makes so much sense that he has to do it."  If Ryan is in Washington because of his ideas (and, as he has often said, there is no other reason to be there) then it may be that he has to run this gauntlet for the sake of those ideas.  That is to say, his running may be the only way to guarantee that we are even having the right conversation in the coming election; the only way to guarantee that the other side confronts his arguments.  We cannot afford to keep postponing this conversation until it is convenient for our best interlocutors to have it.    
Categories > Elections

Discussions - 71 Comments

He can be my hero. If he can sell this to the American public, lining up support "that moves the debate from billions in spending cuts to trillions." he will have done something amazing.

If I thought I could get away with another hyperlink, I would be pointing you to Erskine Bowles saying that the current fiscal situation is a crisis and not sustainable. If even bloody Erskine Bowles says so, maybe Democrats will take their fingers out of their ears and stop saying "Lalalala, Republicans are heartless." and get serious about our little spending problem.

Hey now, I am the only one who went so far as to call him a "World Historical" president. I went on quite the Hegel binge:

"If it were true that the right man for the right time would have no other outside obstacles to his emergence on the scene, all that would be required of democratic statesmanship in a republic would be to sit back and let it happen as part of the natural order of things."

That is what Hegel says, and it is fairly good barometer of what they will do. But the world historical person is actually not a willing agent. I didn't actually mean to say that Obama had much say in the matter. He was served a fine cuisine of problems from day one. He managed to avert economic armaggedon for the very rich(but of course shit rolls downhill). The stock market is back up, but the poor had the green shoots of low gas and food prices from commodity demand destruction, yanked from under them, on the other hand they did benefit from stabilizers.

Obama is historic for awakening us to a host of issues that aren't easily papered over by explanations(no pun on fiat currency intended.) Yeah, yeah, you overstep the bounds of consent you suffer rebuke. I am not saying it is your job to explain his policies for him. I am saying I don't think you can. The bureaucrats only handle very narrow technical questions.

This is actually not to say that you need an educated citizenry to do politics necessarily. If some folks vote gut, and others more sophisticated views, and others naked self interest, thousands of factors could be weighed. This is a market rationality question.

I hope Ryan runs so we can have a serious discussion about deficits. But Ryan won't run because his friend Pawlenty is, plus demographers tell us that Wisconsin and Minnesota are too close together.

But the sudden jerk from Cheney to Ryan leaves me wondering.

The Germans of course tell a story about deficits. I sort of understand the German story. No more great "leaders", just budgets and bureaucracy that is semi-reasonable and legally restrained.

Then you have Nixon and the Nixon Shock, caused in part by the west-germans dropping out of Bretton Woods and the French trying to get all our gold with fiat dollars...(they really hate Keynes and the Germans) probably why Nixon liked Charles De Gaule?

But anyways I am watching M2 and I can't figure out why deficits matter, appart from a sort of German caution, and legal restraining principle.

Do you have any clue what Russian, Chinese, Brazilian and Indian M2 is? The Bric M2 is very high.

I know why Nixon was so insane, he tried to be a geo-political president. No one is really saying it probably because it isn't politically helpful, but what if Obama and Bush are simply like Nixon? That is they speculated dangerously, these guys don't know the full consequences of their actions, and neither do we. We have neo-Keynesians and currency speculators. Krugman and Soros and the new geographical economics of globalism.

Lets say the CBO is correct about our debt. I am almost ballsy enough to say it doesn't matter. That is the Bric and other nations will inflate M-2 faster and the dollar will be more or less held in place. It isn't China or India you have to "fear", it is actually Germany. Germany might get the E.U. to work, hold the Euro together and begin to replace the dollar as a reserve currency, but geo-political uncertainty and diversification will keep this from being a sharp or sudden move, and fearing Germany because they have solar panels and windmills and high speed rail seems an odd sort of fear, they still have to get oil from Russia, and hopefully we have all that Oil that CRS and the hypers of the Bakken say we have.

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Mr. Ryan is 41 years of age, has never held an executive position, and has spent his entire working life in electoral politics and political staff positions. He has many agreeable features, but he is not suitable for the presidency (and is fairly valuable where he is).

Complaints about the extant bench of presidential candidates are banal. To some extent they are justified by the actual set of candidates (the Democratic bench in 2008 was composed of people who had no business running) and to some extent they reflect the fact that our working political society no longer generates capable leaders at any level. Often, though, they reflect the boredom and stupidity of the commentator.

I agree with AD that our political system is woeful about generating able and appealing candidates for high office. I'm not sure why that is, but it seems to be true.

Why are people so down on Palin? I've heard her speak many times, and I see the kind of charisma that most of our candidates lack. Yes, yes, polarizing, but so was Reagan. Polarizing can be a good indicator of integrity (IF you can get elected in the first place, of course).

I'm not sure why people are so critical of Gingrich either. A flip-flop here and there, and of course a divorce or two, but in this Clintonesque political atmosphere who cares? Hell, we've got a guy in office who is a corporatist/socialist with virtually no experience and may not have even been born in the country!

Obama was born in Honolulu.

Dr. Gingrich has had a more variegated work life than Paul Ryan, but he suffers the same disability: no time put in in executive positions.

As for his person, among those who came to be dubious about him as a human being was his collaborator William Paxon. Paxon offered a description of the moment he decided there was something seriously wrong with Gingrich and his proximate thought that he (Paxon) ought to leave electoral politics. He did not actually use the term 'narcissist', though.

There is also a difference in the implications of NG's marital history. His history offends the base, who have plenty of alternatives in a Republican primary; Clinton's history offended a diminutive section of the Democratic electorate which is among those least likely to cast a ballot in a Democratic primary.

And Palin?

I would say her vocation is more that of a municipal politician than a national politician, but her preparation does compare favorably with a number of recent candidates who scored passably in presidential primaries and caucuses. Her quantum of general intelligence is difficult to assess because she shows little interest in the academic per se - she makes a point of learning what she needs to to complete a particular task. I think a problem the Governor has is that she has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that causes people to choose up sides - for her very often, but more often against her.

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For those of you that still read this on occasion, I just wanted to pass on the good news that Daniel has finally become employed at a school teaching history/social studies. He will be teaching at Beehive Science and Technology Academy!!! We are super excited and thank all of you for your prayers and love!!!

I feel like I need to at least acknowledge Advertising Sales Jobs that it has been more than just a while since I have updated the book. Over a month has come and gone. Oh man. What a month it has been.
I think I want to start with what happened when I walked in the door after work tonight.

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