Friday, December 24, 2010

To All Cool Hot Centrists, a Merry Christmas or Whatever Foundational Holiday You Recognize, If Any

At the Cool Hot Center, we pitch a big, big tent.

My best to you and your loved ones.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tomorrow's Conventional Wisdom -- Coming True

You'll recall that two posts ago, in a pararaph titled "Raw Numbers Underestimate the Policy Impact" of the election, I argued that the fear of the rising Tea Party tide would continue to influence lawmakers to move to the right -- or even the center, especially those up for re-election in 2012.  Mickey Kaus in Newsweek reports on an analysis of the defeat of the pro-amnesty DREAM Act that pretty convincingly shows that, at least among so-called "centrist" Republicans, this influence probably caused the bill's demise.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tomorrow's Conventional Wisdom -- Today! (PART 2)

Three more hot thoughts on Politics 2010: 

This Is No Time for Bipartisanship – Let the Bickering Begin; or, Don’t Fear the Gridlock. Most of the American electorate – especially in this election -- doesn’t want the parties to get along. They don’t want the parties to compromise on bad policies. They want good policies. The voters do not agree, of course, on what those good policies are. But we now have a Republican majority in the House, and a Senate that will begin to tilt away from the Obama agenda. And the reason for that majority is because the voters want the Obama/Democratic policies stopped and reversed.

Does anyone suppose that this election was about a craving on the part of voters for bipartisan compromise? No – the majority loathed the results of Democratic hegemony from 2008-2010. They truly want to turn back the clock. They (no, no, not everyone, but the people whose numbers matter) regret their vote for Obama and are counting the days when they can turn him out (unless the Republicans nominate a peckerwood, of which they are surely capable – see later entry re Republicans' peckerwood problem). The Republicans should demand reversal of the last two years of nonsense and should not back down, even at the risk of nothing getting done.

I recall college discussions with pals over whether we would prefer almost any House or Senate candidate we could think of, Republican or Democrat, over a robot who would vote NO on every single vote. (Perhaps exceptions for veto overrides and the like.) Robot always won.

Another exception would be voting yes on certain specialized legislation, such as . . . .

*    *    *

Republicans Must Make Every Effort to Repeal The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” – Policy and Politics.   Stop laughing. Yes, that’s the real name of “Obamacare.” As though it ended up having much to do with patients, protection, affordable care, or care at all. Surely the most reviled single piece of legislation in memory across a broad spectrum of American voters. Legislators could not tell you what was in it. Nancy Pelosi said we’d have to pass it to find out what was was in it. The bureaucracy it promised was gigantic and staggeringly complex. And in the meantime, we were treated to the vision of government social services collapsing economies and spawning beggar classes throughout Europe who demonstrated against any attempt to turn the tide of ruin.

And, of course, the bill itself was dead on arrival save for the legislative bribery it took to pass it.

And what’s happened since?

   --  Employers are cutting back and, in some cases, dumping health care benefits, and passing on higher expenses to employees. 

   --  Analysis after nonpartisan analysis has demonstrated its almost certain nonviability.

   --  President Obama himself admits that his repeated representations that healthcare costs will decrease under his plans may have been, um, untrue.

Almost nobody believes this monstrosity can work or is even beneficial to all but a few, at gigantic expense. To believe that people will tolerate a shrinking doctor class as MDs' rewards for excellence are slashed, while undeserving patients consume vast resources -- well, there are some who do believe that.   Supporters are scarce, and they seldom emerge from what is almost always a tower of academe or cosseted media position.  With each passing week, public support for the thing reaches a new low.

Obamacare doesn’t need fixing. It needs to die, and quickly, before the prospect of the economic and healthcare horrors it will unleash keep one more employer from adding one more employee.

Republican candidates called for repeal during the campaign, and now they need to demand it. Make the case – get the facts out – and work for repeal without compromise. It is the correct policy move.

But would it be politically prudent? The idea of repeal is very popular right now, and, as noted in my previous article, a large majority of Senators up for re-election in 2012 are Democrats. It is not beyond imagining that a strong Republican leadership could round up the votes required for repeal.

Nevertheless, it might well be a lost cause, since the President could veto any attempt at repeal, and Republicans are a Senate minority.  A majority for repeal might not be the necessary majority for override.  And, as we have seen with the recent tax agreement, there are Democrats out there (in this case, socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont) who will filibuster.

Your Cool Hot Center advises Republicans: Let them filibuster. Let them vote against repeal. Let them vote to sustain the President’s veto. As long as you fight the good fight and present a factual, supportable case for repeal – not the peckerwood case, but the sound economic, moral, and policy case, perhaps while acknowledging the need for reform in certain areas – you will be rewarded in November 2012.   If you fight the good fight and lose, all it tells the electorate is that the housecleaning of 2010 was incomplete, and will energize the base for further corrections in 2012.

And, Republicans, if you don’t fight that fight, if you just nibble at the corners of Obamacare, if you try only to “reform” the beast, then you will have justified those souls who are convinced that principle counts for nothing in Washington, that anyone who goes there is inevitably compromised, must go along to get along, in derogation of the best interests of the Republic.

It’s gotta go. It or you.

*     *     *

No, I Don’t Miss George Bush.  And I don’t feel sorry for Wade Phillips.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tomorrow's Conventional Wisdom -- Today! (PART 1)

In  my first post on the 2010 election I looked back at some of the reasons given for the shocking collapse of President Obama’s coalition.    It was fun to revisit the past two years of liberal incomprehension and error, but it did not meet my personal requirement that I offer the Cool Hot Centrist Nation something other than warmed over punditry of others.  (I frequently warm over my own punditry.)  Herewith, then, some nuggets of what I’m thinking about the next few years and beyond.  Quite a bit of it consists of priceless instruction to the Republican Party.  Starting with:
Don’t Underestimate Barack Obama.   I’ve received criticism from some readers for noting occasionally that the man has some very admirable qualities.  His policies are so bad that the temptation is strong to judge him as a bad man through and through.     Never mind whether this is ungracious – it’s simply wrong.   Barack Obama is smart (see my series on the nature of his intelligence –  Part 1 -- Part 2).   The Republicans should not take for granted that his ego will not allow him to move to the center, will not allow him to offer compromises to Republicans that they will be unable to decline.  I’m not saying that I expect this to happen; I’m not saying that it is likely to happen; I’m saying it’s wrong to assume that it can’t happen because the President lacks the brains to be flexible about his principles.  In fact, it is my expe  ctation that, at least at first, he will continue to press his academic statist agenda for reasons I have set forth elsewhere.
[Note:  This was composed before his recent compromise on taxes.  See?] 
It is the case that he has squandered a great deal of his personal capital through the exposure of his tendency to dissimulate.  But he still cuts an appealing physical figure.  He speaks very well off the cuff and from the lectern; his reliance on teleprompters has been overstated because his oratorical skills were overpraised in the past.  He has a fine speaking voice – must be the smokes.   I’m not being frivolous here – style points count in American politics.  In politics everywhere, for that matter.  Except maybe China, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, and Minnesota.
The economy is likely to get better, as the economy almost always does.
And if he runs again (80%) and is renominated (less certain) he will be formidable in debate against any Republican candidate who isn’t highly intelligent and thoroughly prepared, or who lacks his glibness.  Excuse me a moment – coughsarahpalincough.
I’m serious.  Don’t forget about the debates.  We (by this, I mean I and people who don’t want Obama to win in 2012) need someone who is Obama’s equal in intelligence, grasp of policy, self-assurance, and for lack of a better phrase savoir faire.  (“Charisma” is overused.)   I’m not sure who fits that bill in the current batch of hopefuls, but I know a couple who don’t.   Beg pardon --hackbobbyjindalwheeze.

Raw Numbers Underestimate the Policy Impact of November 2.   The Republican sweep was compelling everywhere except traditional liberal strongholds – the Northeast, California and a handful of outliers that I’ll consider elsewhere.   It included statehouses and local races. 
But the Republicans did not regain the Senate.   As things stand right now, the Senate is 51 Democrat, 47 Republican, and 2 Independent.  The independents are Joe Lieberman (Connecticut) and Bernie Sanders (Vermont).  Sanders is a socialist – no, that’s not a hyperbolic slam, he really is a socialist.   He caucuses with the Democrats. 
Of the 33 Senators up for re-election in 2012, 20 are Democrats.  And of those 20, not all of them are left-crazy, although they might have gone along with what they mistakenly believed was the bulletproof Obama-endorsed legislative agenda the past two years.  These guys aren’t dumb – they see what happened to apparently firmly- entrenched senators like Russ Feingold.  They see Scott Brown sitting in Edward Kennedy’s seat.  Would you expect them to go down the line with Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and President Obama on hot-button conservative issues?   Would you expect them to ignore the message rising from the entrails of the November 2 slaughter?
Personally, I would not.
It is probably too much to hope that the Republicans can assemble a veto-proof majority to do what they need to do to undo the legislative wreckage of the last two years.  But even with a minority in the Senate, the right-moderates stand some chance of maintaining effective control.

Part 2 will appear in a few days.