3.29.2006

Total lack of options

I’m very sympathetic to Andrew Sullivan’s criticisms of the current spendthrift incarnation of “conservatism” in Washington. There hardly seems to be anyone in Washington that seems interested in spending cuts anymore. Where I have a problem with such critics is their apparent belief that having Democrats assume control of the purse strings would somehow improve the situation. Sullivan would be crapping in his pajamas if the following was the consensus of Republicans in Washington (NYTimes):

Democrats say that while their policies lack detail in some respects, they
were able at least to put together a package of proposals to which all
members of the party could subscribe, calling for more money to be spent
on a broad array of items

Has there ever been a Democratic pet cause that demanded something other than more funding?

4 comments:

Ben said...

One case I heard for electing Kerry, that I felt made sense, was that it would gum up the legislative works just enough. Enough to prevent either party from having free reign in passing pork or otherwise play fast and loose with taxpayer dollars.

The example that you point out from the NYT is still worth mockery, but you may as well finish out that quote: "Democrats say that while their policies lack detail in some respects, they were able at least to put together a package of proposals to which all members of the party could subscribe, calling for more money to be spent on a broad array of items, including port security and foreign aid." I'd be perfectly fine if the Dem's bothered to address that "detail" thing, and in the process spent more money on thigs like port security and foreign aid, while trimming entitlements and pork. Unfortunately at this stage and under current leadership, this "plan" is pretty weak sauce, and is so vague as to be laughable. They may as well have said, "We wanna get elected, we'll do stuff - only better!"

Andrew said...

Do you think foreign aid and port security are what democrats really principally concerned about in this next election cycle? Or do you think they were simply the 2 best sounding items in a whole slew of pet causes individual dems want addressed to pander to their constituencies? Republicans are just as guilty of pork and opportunistically trumping up issues democrats where appear weak, however the fact remains that the keystone of their consensus has always been more a desire to “spend more money”.

Ben said...

I don't really care if any legislator is driven by principle so long as they promote/enact law that I can agree with. If they do seem driven by principle that I agree with, that's simply a bonus that lets me know that I can generally rely on their judgment. Regrettably these legislators are few.

With regards to my quibble: spending more money on foreign aid and port securit, is still vague and lame, but less so when compared to, "We're going to spend more money on a broad array of items...", with ... representing all the usual things Dem's like to spend money on. My quibble is that ... didn't mean what it was implied to mean, even though what was said was still hollow political blathering.

However, to answer your question, if I'd say that they were pandering, bar none. Even though the article didn't state who the Democrats were, that quote we're talking about was paraphrasing, I'd guess it was the current leadership. I trust Pelosi, Reid, Durbin, Kerry and Dean as far as I could punt their collective fleshy mass. However, if heard this from Obama, it would be a different story and I'd likely buy every word.

I think that Sullivan's point is that with the ascendancy of the "Christianist" Republicans, we've effectively seen the end of being able to count on Republicans as being to be fiscally conservative. If both parties are spending like maniacs, effectively making the keystones of both their platforms "spend more money" (this would seem to be the Total lack of options that you're reffering to in the subject line of this post), what are we left with? I don't think Sullivan really addresses this with any regularity, but for now, it looks like we're left with individuals who don't subscribe to groupthink. People like Coburn and Obama (and while we're at it, McCain, Gulliani 'n sometimes Leiberman) bucking the trends of their respective parties for principle. With any luck, principle will begin to make some headway.

Andrew said...

Unfortunately all that iconoclasts like McCain and Leiberman (I’m not yet convinced that Obama is the breath of fresh air the hype makes him out to be) have demonstrated is that bucking the party line is good for TV time and not much else. Other than McCain/Feingold and the Baseball probe I’m not sure either of them have accomplished much of anything. The Bush/Frist/Reed’s still control the agenda and I have no idea what it’s going to take to make them any less lame.

I’m not sure if “port security” and “foreign aid” where what democrats actually wanted to emphasize in their new manifesto or if it was just the author trying to help them out but based on this surprisingly hefty but vague paper (like my Hume papers) any of the following put in the blank would be equally valid (democrats.senate.gov/pdfs/RealSecurity_web.pdf). Again, I believe my emphasis on the fact that the only agenda item Democrats have consensus on is spending more money is valid.

Democrats say that while their policies lack detail in some respects, they
were able at least to put together a package of proposals to which all
members of the party could subscribe, calling for more money to be spent
on a broad array of items including ________________

A.) Healthcare and First Responder Training
B.) Alternative Fuels and Energy Conservation
C.) Low Income Energy Assistance and Weatherization assistance
D.) A program to ensure people put enough air in their tires