More Commercial Corruption
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Jan. 29 2002 12:37 PM

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Dear Joe,

Advertisement

Wow! It never occurred to me to name my kid after TR. It would have been tough to get past my wife, who is a religious zealot. But at least we did name our oldest after Joshua, who is sort of a paragon of Israelite national greatness.

You're absolutely right to have qualms about the rough rider. His thinking had an undeniable racial cast, which is repugnant to us. Suspicious of corporate types, he eventually fell for Herbert Croly's faith in rule by experts. Still, he is a remarkable antidote to many of our current diseases. He understood that the chief problem facing America is the danger that we might fall into a Belgian-style complacent malaise. We have less to fear from national arrogance or overreach than from enervating materialism.

He also understood that while America is powerful because of competitive capitalism, the commercial mentality is only a step to higher goals. Like Alexander Hamilton, his great forebear, he prized capitalism but had no interest in money or financial matters himself. He was always strenuously in pursuit of higher and somewhat romantic ideals.

I have high hopes for the State of the Union address because I think Bush has an opportunity to rejigger American politics. Up until Sept. 11, the Bush administration had done little to upend the 49-49 split that had marked recent elections. The tax-cut fight was an orthodox Republican vs. Democrat debate.

But since Sept. 11, he has seized, or stumbled onto, all sorts of McCainite issues that appeal to the independent voters between the two parties: national service, aggressive attempts to roll back rogue nations and champion democracy abroad, a revived sense of national unity. He may even embrace some ambitious national projects over the next weeks, such as spreading a broadband network or launching an effort to achieve energy independence. While hostile to nanny state government, he has broken the back of the libertarian "leave us alone" style conservatism that held that government was an evil that should always get out of the way.

I really think it is time to entertain the possibility that GWB is a transformational president like FDR and Reagan. If he can take some of the independent voters who have been longing for a Perot or a McCain, and attract them to the GOP with these McCainite policies, then he will have laid the groundwork for a working Republican majority. Look at Richard Morin and Dana Milbank's piece in the Post to see some early signs that this might be happening.

Let me also mention two other pieces, in keeping with my themes of the moment. First, the op-ed piece by Robert Kagan and Ronald Asmus on how Bush can show how the war on terror fits into a long-term strategy of international engagement.  Also Matt Drudge has been given a heads-up on how Republicans might try to use the Global Crossings bankruptcy to muddy the Enron fallout. Global Crossings, another broadband firm gone bust, had ties to Henry Waxman and other Democratic Enron inquisitors. More commercial corruption.

Best,
David

David Brooks is senior editor of the Weekly Standard and author of Bobos in Paradise.

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

Are the Attacks in Canada a Sign of ISIS on the Rise in the West?

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Is It Offensive When Kids Use Bad Words for Good Causes?

Fascinating Maps Based on Reddit, Craigslist, and OkCupid Data

Culturebox

The Real Secret of Serial

What reporter Sarah Koenig actually believes.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 23 2014 3:55 PM Panda Sluggers Democrats are in trouble. Time to bash China.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 23 2014 2:36 PM Take a Rare Peek Inside the Massive Data Centers That Power Google
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM What Happens When You Serve McDonald’s to Food Snobs and Tell Them It’s Organic
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 4:36 PM Vampire Porn Mindgeek is a cautionary tale of consolidating production and distribution in a single, monopolistic owner.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.