Saturday, January 5, 2008

Give Me Liberty or Give Me the Mildest Possible Statism

obama.jpg mccain.jpg paul.jpg

A few observations as we’re poised between the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary:

•This past Wednesday’s Lolita Bar talk by Michael Malice saw two amazing coincidences: (1) Mitch Verter, one of the Brown-alum Leo Buscaglia fans I blogged about one month ago — who has since talked to me about his hopes of getting Institute for Humane Studies backing for his research on anarchism at the New School — walked into the bar right after Malice’s talk despite not having realized we’d be there and despite the fact that he lives in Canada and I haven’t seen him in seventeen years, and (2) he was carrying a copy of one of the books that had the biggest influence on Malice, Max Stirner’s anarchist classic The Ego and Its Own. Small world. You can understand why I believed in synchronicity for a little while as a child before becoming a skeptic.

•On a somewhat related note (for those who can see the connections), one of my ACSH co-workers yesterday noted this amazing, simple, straightforward, five-minute video about why, no, you really do not want to live (or rather, die) under a Canadian-style, single-payer, government-run healthcare system (and thus cannot vote for Hillary Clinton, not that ACSH has a position on that — nor on William Kristol becoming a columnist for the Times, though another co-worker pointed out this great Slate piece about how much some people are freaking out about Kristol being hired).

•My conflicted Republican friend in Iowa, when asked directly on Thursday night who she voted (caucused? whatever) for, simply e-mailed me back saying that she was too busy drinking to answer, though her local caucus went for McCain as its first choice, and she assures me she didn’t vote for Huckabee.

•You know, suddenly Romney, McCain, Giuliani, Thompson, and Paul all seem like great candidates, compared to the GOP winner in Iowa — and it would be a tragedy if Republican support for these five men remained sufficiently divided that the Huckster was able to win a plurality (I think it’s a fair nickname for him — one conservative writer labeled Bush an “imposter,” so there’s a precedent for slapping negative labels on phony conservatives, though in the Huckster’s case there isn’t even any pretense he’ll promote free markets, unless you count his unconvincing tax reform plan).

•It’s a prisoner’s dilemma sort of thing: we anti-Huckabites could each abandon our favorite candidate (Paul in my case) to shore up one of the others — but, dammit, why can’t the other camps budge first? I will nobly do my part, though. Mark my words: If Ron Paul doesn’t pull off something amazing in New Hampshire, which is fertile libertarian-friendly territory that certainly ought to vote for him, I will lay off the Paul talk afterwards in favor of urging people to consolidate around some other GOP candidate who can stop the Huckster (as if anyone’s listening to me — but think of it as a Kantian thing, acting as if my example might in principle be universalized). Paul has earned my patience through New Hampshire, at least, though. May he flourish in today’s early-evening debate and then in the Tuesday New Hampshire vote, changing history and making my second-choice calculations unnecessary.

•The Democrats, by contrast, picked the best of the three most prominent candidates in Iowa (though their fourth, Richardson, is arguably the most libertarian of the Dems, which isn’t saying much). Edwards is (not so unlike the Huckster) an economically-ignorant populist, and Clinton is part of an unprincipled and power-hungry machine undeserving of another four (or eight) years in the White House. Obama is just a Democrat, as far as I can tell, which is bad but not the worst thing in the world — and he has almost verbatim promised to be a uniter, not a divider, which would probably turn out to be more accurate a statement coming from him than it was the last time a presidential candidate promised that.

Encouragingly, Obama also said, “we should be asking ourselves what mix of policies will lead to a dynamic free market and widespread economic security, entrepreneurial innovation, and upward mobility.” On the other hand, like virtually all Democrats, he opposes vouchers for school choice, as cruel and child-punishing an anti-market position as one could hold, dictated to the Dems by their ruthlessly self-serving union funders.

•Just as my Iowa Republican friend had noted people lining up in the streets with enthusiasm (even Republicans!) to caucus for Obama, writer John Blesso mass-e-mailed yesterday to say that he saw amazing activity among Obama volunteers in New Hampshire while he was there and only lackluster, minimally-staffed efforts by Clinton. If neither Clinton nor the divided Republicans get their acts together, I suspect this guy’s our next president. Then again, the Ron Paul campaigners in New Hampshire probably look pretty energized, too.

•In unrelated news, the week’s most shocking — and possibly dyslexic — political headline remains this one from the New York Post (unless they’ve fixed it by now): “Blind Eye to of Unholiest Horrors Muslims.” (Dawn Eden, who used to write headlines for the Post before she became a full-time chastity-promoter, may have depth perception problems, but she was never dyslexic — and here’s hoping she’s doing well in Washington, while I’m at it.)


Jacob T. Levy said...

an unprincipled and power-hungry machine undeserving of another four (or eight) years in the White House.

Also an apt description of the Republican Party c. 2008.

I’m shocked by how little intra-GOP opposition or dissent there has been, other than by wild outliers like Paul or the occasional outburst from the cretinous Arlen Specter. What’s proven to be a relentlessly terrible administration was actively aided and abetted by the Congressional GOP until November 2006, then they just turned quiet. They decided their fortunes were too closely tied to Bush to resist him, or else they really believed in everything from steel tariffs to record-breaking spending to Abu Ghraib to Michael Brown to Harriet Meirs to Alberto Gonzales. (Exceptions: Hagel on the war and McCain on torture– though on everything else McCain’s differences from Bush amount to saying that Bush hasn’t turned the volume up high enough.)

Sometimes a party needs a few years in the wilderness to purge itself and learn some lessons. Since Ron won’t win the nomination, McCain is unacceptable on most grounds other than being anti-torture, and Huckabee is a scary loon (Todd’s discovered that it matters that the Republican Party is made up of lots of evangelical Christians!), the GOP really needs at least four years in the penalty box.

Todd Seavey said...

You Canadians think the penalty box solves everything.

Jacob T. Levy said...

I’m impressed– you knew which sport “penalty box” refers to!

Todd Seavey said...

Wait, you mean it’s not part of the Parliament building?