More Examiner Columns

washington_examiner_frontpage_18sep06

…here are the rest:

5. “The Right Can Do Better than Romney”: arguing that the current front-runner for the GOP nomination, the horrible and boring former Massachusetts governor, shouldn’t be the conservative standard-bearer:

With his square jaw and flawless salt-and-pepper hair, Romney certainly looks presidential: Like a character actor playing the president in a superhero movie — or, less charitably, like a creature genetically engineered and grown in a vat for the sole purpose of securing the nation’s highest office.

There’s more to the presidency than looking the part, however. Conservatives ought to take a good look at the Romney record and ask themselves whether a man of such flexible convictions is the best they can do.

6. “The Era of Big-Government Initiatives Is Over”: putting Obama’s health-care difficulties in the context of 40 years of declining trust in government–a wonderful thing, despite what responsible opinionmakers tell you–and explaining why I think another New Deal or Great Society is improbable in this day and age:

Who could have predicted that the summer of 2009 would be such a tough time to be a liberal? Seven months ago, President Barack Obama took office with a 79 percent approval rating β€” the highest in three decades.

The Kennedy-esque cult of personality that surrounded the new president led many conservatives and libertarians to fear he’d be able to work his will in Congress, dramatically increasing the size of government.

Yet, cap and trade has dropped off this year’s legislative agenda and today Obama’s signature initiative β€” national health care β€” remains stalled, growing more unpopular by the minute.

[T]he resurgence of public skepticism toward federal power is good news for those of us who support limited, constitutional government….

Obama bears much of the blame for his current political woes, having pushed an overly ambitious agenda that the public seems reluctant to accept. But he’s also the victim of trends that long predated his presidency.

7. “Abolish the DHS!” a case for getting rid of the obnoxious and useless Homeland Security department. Embarassingly, I got the location of DHS’s new HQ wrong. Also, more people than I would have thought were mystified by the reference to “Spinal Tap” and the phrase “dog’s breakfast”:

The Homeland Security Advisory System is a case in point. Even before Ridge’s revelation, two separate studies showed that Bush received a boost to his approval ratings with each escalation of the terror threat level. The warning has been raised above yellow (“elevated”) 16 times, but it’s never been lowered to blue or green, the bottom rungs on DHS’s Ladder of Fear. Yet, with Spinal Tap logic (“this goes to 11!”) the department insists on keeping all five levels.

[T]he department has done little to provide genuine security and much to encourage a pernicious politics of fear.

The department itself is a dog’s breakfast of 22 federal agencies brought together in the hope of providing better coordination on a common mission. But turf battles left key antiterror agencies like the FBI out of the reorganization, and DHS finished last or next to last on every measure of employee morale in a 2006 Office of Personnel Management study.

The truth, as analyst Jeffrey Rosen points out, is that DHS is ‘an institutional money pit that has more to do with symbols than substance.”

8. “Afghanistan: Obama’s Vietnam”: last Tuesday’s column. Unfortunately, the same day, some other guy made the same argument and stole all the attention:

there’s another aspect of the LBJ parallel that deserves more attention. That’s liberals’ temperamental affinity for nation-building, which may help explain why Obama is doubling down on a bad bet.

Historian and Vietnam veteran Walter McDougall calls Vietnam the “Great Society War,” one shaped by liberals’ conviction that no social problem is too difficult for a determined and well-meaning government to fix.

As McDougall tells it, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara “put more than a hundred sociologists, ethnologists, and psychologists to work ‘modeling’ South Vietnamese society and seeking data sufficient ‘to describe it quantitatively and simulate its behavior on a computer.” “Dammit,” LBJ exclaimed to an aide in 1966, “We’ve got to see that the South Vietnamese government wins the battle… of crops and hearts and caring.”

True, Obama admits that we can’t “rebuild Afghanistan into a Jeffersonian democracy.” But the administration’s vision for Afghanistan is quixotic enough nonetheless…

Posted on Sep 4, 2009 in Asides, Cult of the Presidency | Comments

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