Friday, November 16, 2007
I have seen the new nose ("front clip") for the Pontiac Solstice. It's ugly! They've styled it along the tongue-thrusting lines of the G6 GXP. If I had a cell phone camera I'd be rich. ... The Solstice, which is not an expensive car, is currently gorgeous-but-unreliable. Maybe GM will fix its "drive system" problems (according to Consumer Reports) when they are changing the nose. ... That's a common pattern: A car looks pretty much perfect when it's introduced--but by the time they have the bugs out they've tragically "refreshed" the styling. ...[True of people too!--ed A get-up-and-get-a-beer line.]
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Triangulation vs. Bridge Building: On bloggingheads, Bob Wright argues there is no contradiction between 1) Obama's claim to be truer, bluer Democrat and 2) his claim to be a bipartisan bridge-builder. I grant that if you see policies on a spectrum, a politician can say he believes in a 'pure' liberal position but promise that he'll compromise as much as necessary to pass legislation. I'm forced to distinguish between this kind of bridge-building and "triangulation"--a distinction self-proclaimed bridge-builder Obama makes too, since he attacks "triangulating."
What's the difference? A Triangulator defines himself or herself against the positions of left and right. Most obvious example: welfare reform. Clinton argued traditional Congressional Democrats were wrong not to demand that welfare recipients work. But he distanced himself from Republicans who weren't willing to spend the money to provide the work and to "make work pay." He wasn't building bridges so much as telling each side off.
Why is this useful? The Triangulator knows that bipartisan solutions don't always require each side to give up its least important demands and meet in the middle, half-a-loaf style. Bipartisan solutions sometimes require one side or the other to give up it's most important demand. There was nothing the left cared more about in the welfare debate, for example, than preventing states from being able to abolish welfare or rigorously require single mothers to work. In the bipartisan reform that ultimately passed in 1996, the left lost those demands.
Similarly, in the education debate, traditional due process protection against dismissal isn't a marginal demand for the Dem-supporting teacher's unions. It's their core demand--not the last 10%, but the first 10%. But arguably you aren't going to fix the schools unless you take away that 10% and make it easier to fire mediocre teachers (or close down whole schools if they fail to meet standards). Similarly, in the health care debate there is nothing small-government conservatives want to avoid more than a big government-controlled system. Arguably we aren't going to get universal health care unless the conservatives lose that fight. Not compromise. Lose.