Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Gird Your Loins: David Frum and Bill Bradley offer hard nosed, savvy explanations of why picking Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State makes sense for Obama. He looks magnanimous. He'll find out her secrets--then he has the goods on her. He can fire her. She'll work for him . Bill will be controlled. Now she'll have real trouble paying Mark Penn's bill! ...
Sorry, I'm not buying it. It seems simple to me: She can't do him much damage from the Senate, where she doesn't rank. She can do him a lot of damage through self-interested leaking from the State Department. (Here's Exhibit Z, if you needed it, from Elizabeth Drew .) If he fires her she can then run against him and make more trouble.
Even smart, well-advised people make mistakes. I think it's a mistake. Or else there is some other factor at work that we don't know about (e.g., Hillary has the real birth certificate! Joking!)... [ How do you know her aides will keep leaking? That's just CW. The CW said Joe Biden would be a walking gaffe machine, remember--ed Joe Biden was a walking gaffe machine. Remember ] 10:24 P.M.
Jonathan Chait argues that Clinton made a political mistake by running up a budget surplus in his second term--because "all you ended up doing was just giving more money for George Bush to devote to tax cuts for the rich." I've never understood this argument. It would have been better if the money had been pissed away on veteran's programs, civil service salary hikes, agriculture subsidies and money for the failing education bureaucracy? In Democrats wouldn't have enacted universal health insurance in Clinton's second term after all. (The GOP controlled Congress.) They would have just larded up existing programs--programs that are then almost impossible to cut. Now, at least, the Obama administration has the option of raising money for health care by raising the taxes on the rich back to where they were before. If Chait's advice had been followed, Obama wouldn't have that option (because taxes on the rich would never have gone down). ... It's hard to raise taxes, but it's easier to raise taxes starting from a lower base. And it's easier to raise taxes than to try to finance health care by cutting government programs with powerful constituencies. ... A fuller version of this argument can be found here . ... P.S.: I'm not saying Bush's distribution of tax cuts was the right one. I'm saying that running up a surplus from 1996 to 2001 and then spending the surplus on tax cuts of some sort was way better for Democrats than not running a surplus in the first place (because the money was spent on the sorts of Democratic "priorities" that would have been funded at the time). Politics isn't a football game where Dems gain yards by spending on their "priorities" and GOPs gain yards by helping the rich. Some Dem "priorities" get in the way of other Dem "priorities." Some GOP "victories" set the stage for later Democratic achievements. ... 7:10 P.M.