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Partisan Mind

Ross Douthat is a smart guy, I think.  Yet, this op-ed on the partisan mind is very light.  Given that bi-partisanship is such a cause (even) among some, and is so misleading, etc., this issue need a more serious discussion, but one which I can't attempt today....yet I throw this out in case some else is willing to start it.
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In this area, Bush is like Hoover to Obama's FDR. Bush's Transportation Secretary was the partisan Dem Norman Mineta, who used his WW II relocation experience to justify the non-profiling approach to airport security measures. We went from dumb to dumber.

The Mineta excuse is almost ugly.

Douthat is right, to a certain extent, that conservatives were willing to give Bush the benefit of the doubt about the mode of national security. In the initial shock after 9/11 we were prepared to accept any temporary measures for added security. We took Bush's word for what was necessary, even if we grumbled at some of the measures he proposes, especially as time passed. However, I cannot see that he got a pass on the issue.

Therefore, Douthat is also incorrect since many people on the right complained about things like the whole Homeland Security apparatus. We were asking things like, "What have we got an FBI for, anyway? Isn't internal security what they are supposed to do? What do we need this new crowd for, especially if they are going to be unionized. Who needs that?" In addition, some cranky conservatives said, "This is an increase of government power and of government expense that is antithetical to the small-government philosophy Bush was elected on." This was part of Bush's erosion of support on the right.

Ken Thomas, you are right since FDR ran on a limited government, "Hoover is wrong", kind of ticket and then created Hoover's programs on steriods. However, did FDR suffer this backlashing of the electorate in 1934? It seems as if you can push the American people only so far into government control. Then there is resistance -- at least I hope that is true. Republican or Democrat should be clobbered at the polls if he forgets the American character,

then created Hoover's programs on steriods

Hoover engaged in hortatory exercises to persuade the business community not to cut wages, a bad business the Roosevelt Administration favored and attempted to extend and institutionalize through the National Recovery Administration (in which object they were thwarted by the courts). However, the most salient set of policies followed by the Hoover Administration were business as usual in the realm of monetary regulation and banking supervision. The gold standard remained in force and the response to bank failures by the Comptroller of the Currency and state banking supervisors was to close the banks in question and subject them (as per the law) to time consuming bankruptcy proceedings. The result was rapid deflation and a horrendous contraction in production. The Roosevelt Administration implemented a complete about face in the spring of 1933 and the economy began to recover immediately and rapidly.

"The Roosevelt Administration implemented a complete about face in the spring of 1933 and the economy began to recover immediately and rapidly."

As of 1938, the unemployment rate was 19%, hardly a "rapid" improvement. FDR created the Great Depression with his stupid socialist policies. Capitalist economies must be allowed to tank and then recover naturally, or you simply end up hamstringing them. This is the danger today.

Tony Bartl I would state with less equivocation than Peter Schramm ( ) that Ross Douthat is a pretty smart guy, but I agree with him that this piece is a little thin. Not sure I should expect more in less than 800 words, though. Funny thing is I was just talking about this with El Jefe on Friday. As usual he has a telling anecdote: A colleague who studied public opinion came into his office after Reagan announced the SDI, nearly frantic because he couldn't figure out whether to code defensive ballistic missiles in his survey analysis as "liberal" or "conservative." Jefe's smart-ass (but accurate) answer: "depends on who's proposing it."

This shows the limits of our empirical social science as much as it shows the limits of knee-jerk partisanship. But while I think Douthat is generally correct, I also think partisanship on the individual level, while not ideal, makes more sense than Douthat is willing to concede. Aren't there reasons after all why we trust certain people and distrust others?
Why is it that conservatives are so fearful of Bis Sis Napolitano? Might it not have something to do with the fact that under the first Big Sis, Janet Reno, in the most recent Democratic administration, the power of the federal law enforcement apparatus was used to put little old ladies who passed out pro-life literature on terrorist watch lists; that under her direction the ATF botched their patently illegal raid on a religious group outside of Waco, which ended with the FBI slaughtering around 80 men, women, and children, and then followed it up with a massive coverup; or the earlier event at Ruby Ridge, ID, where an FBI sniper shot an unarmed woman through the head while she was standing in her doorway holding an infant?
By the same token, is it crazy for liberals to take a second look at certain war/detainee policies after Pres Obama, one of "their guys," presumably has looked at all the options and decided they are the best options given the circumstances?
This is nothing new in politics: only a Nixon could go to China in 1972; only a Clinton could pull off welfare reform in the 90s. (This is exactly the kind of thing that Bush was trying to do by joining Ted Kennedy in promoting the disastrous No Child Left Behind, and what McCain was attempting with the ill-conceived and ill-fated BCRA.)

The real question isn't why would we trust certain people with powers that we wouldn't trust others with. The real question is why would we allow or even promote an institutional change that will equally apply when the temporary political arrangement has been reversed? Conservative Republicans pushed for presidential term limits after the death of FDR. The next two presidents that might've run for a third term were Ike and Reagan (If Nixon hadn't imploded, he could've made a 3rd). Progressives pushed for the initiative and referendum in places like California. After California citizens have used it to deny services to the children of illegals, banned bilingual education, first banned gay marriage, and then followed it up with a constitutional amendment doing the same thing, I think it's safe to say that it didn't work out the way they thought it would. (Michigan used theirs to eliminate affirmative action.) In a more bipartisan spirit, I hear that they also reliably vote conservatively when it comes to taxing and liberally when it comes to spending, which might explain a lot about the fiscal state of the Golden State.
The most obvious reason conservatives should've been wary about the post-9-11 innovations is that eventually "their guy" wouldn't be in charge anymore. The political winds inevitably shift. John Locke taught us that it is the good prince who most endangers our liberty. Even if this principle could be missed, Clinton proved that the sword fashioned in the Cold War to point out at the Soviets could be turned in at our own citizens.

And so I have to say, I'm not surprised that this more aggressive and more invasive system was put into place by a Democratic administration rather than a Republican one, and I am less surprised that a greater backlash has ensued than it might've under a different administration. The attitudes of the people in charge matter. One reason the American people trusted Bush after 9-11 was they believed he trusted us. Any invasion of our privacy surely was necessary (so the thinking goes). It was clear that he knew who the bad guys were, and while we might suffer some inconvenience, they were going to get hell. I don't feel like spelling out the contrast presented by Pres. Obama. It should be obvious. It is a problem with the Democrats in general. They don't like us. They don't trust us. And they are perfectly willing to treat our daughters and our grandmothers with the same suspicion, and subject them to the same indignities, as a twenty-something bearded male from Albania. That this is intolerable to Americans should not be surprising to anyone who knows anything about them, let alone is one. It's a John Wayne thing, says Peggy Noonan in her latest:

My friend, James, made a pertinent remark in relation to this: "The point that who rules matters to us more than what we might call the 'institutions' overseen by the ruler is remarkable. Aristotle over the Federalist?"
My answer: If the Federalists thought their institutions removed the importance of “who rules” from politics, then they would indeed be wrong. But certainly the question takes on different character under a constitutional regime. The stakes are much lower and so the passions will be lower. Instead of civil war, we have this: , not pretty but a pretty good trade if you ask me. Instead of being the end of the world, we only think it is.
If we know that the other guys will be able to use the same institutions that we may wish to invent or modify, it will moderate our ambitions, though not always as effectively as we might wish. Your point is well taken though. Thank God we got FDR instead of Huey Long during the Depression and Lincoln instead of . . . anybody else in 1860

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