The Spectacle Blog

Re: Redefining ‘Fiscal Conservative’

By on 8.14.06 | 10:45PM

Tabin, three cheers. You're dead right. "Fiscal conservative" is as much a code as anything else used to cabin off right from left with a bad conscience. It stinks, I think, as bad as a certain smell rising from the corpse of Joe Lieberman. That corpse, of course, will walk again, as it should; but Pat Buchanan is not just whistlin' Dixie when he lambastes the Lieb's neocon hagiographers.

The last laugh is that actual fiscal conservatism is virtually a dead letter. The rabbit hole we've tumbled down has, as Sam Elliot put it in The Big Lebowski, "no bottom." The illness that has gripped American spendiness is terminal, until further notice -- in the household as well as the federal purse. We might have to tear down the GOP -- at least, for a laugh, as it's usually done, in primary season -- in order to tear down entitlement spending. This is one of those fine trades for which we have won compassion and security. It's bosh and we know it is. But who will step into the breach? Mike Pence?

Re: Redefining ‘Fiscal Conservative’

By on 8.14.06 | 8:30PM

I addressed this topic almost three years ago, when I observed that

A fiscal conservative may be untroubled by budget deficits or obsessed with them; may want to raise spending or rein it in; and may want to raise taxes or cut them. "Fiscal conservative" now means so many things that it means nothing for certain. It's a dream label for a politician: obscuring more than it reveals, it says to the vast majority of the electorate: Whatever you think, I agree.
I'm still sort of hoping that the taxonomy I created back then to explain the unbundled strains of "fiscal conservatism" will eventually catch on.

Re: Redefining Fiscal Conservative

By on 8.14.06 | 4:48PM

For a long time, I've thought that conservative voters should no longer be eager to get behind Republicans merely because of their support for cutting taxes. In fact, at this point I think it makes more sense to support a Republican who would keep taxes the same, but cut spending. Of course, in the long run, the only way to limit the size of government is through serious entitlement reform. But given last year's Social Security debacle, I'm not going to hold my breath.

Redefining ‘Fiscal Conservative’

By on 8.14.06 | 4:08PM

David Boaz at Cato notes that the mainstream media is in the habit of calling politicians who oppose tax cuts and support more spending as "fiscal conservatives." It's confusing until you understand what meaning the MSM imparts to "fiscal conservative". About two years ago I was talking to former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore who was complaining about various liberal efforts to redefined fiscal conservatives as any politician who increases spending as long as he supports the taxes necessary to pay for it.

Thus, the confusion evaporates: those politicians oppose tax cuts because those cuts diminish the revenue needed to pay for spending. And that, according to the MSM lexicon, makes them fiscal conservatives.

Containing Iran

By on 8.14.06 | 1:20PM

Writing in the Atlantic Monthly (subscription required), Jonathan Rauch argues:

Here are some things we have seen before: a nuclear-armed country with a brittle and aggressive ideology, world-revolutionary aspirations, and a belief in the historic inevitability of its triumph against a decadent and ultimately hollow West. In that country, an unpopular and divided regime, with hard-liners and relative pragmatists squabbling for influence. A crumbling resource-dependent economy. A paranoid worldview in which America is an omnipresent military and ideological threat. A tactical predilection for supporting and manipulating insurgent proxies around the world, rather than engaging in direct confrontations. Above all, a belief that nuclear weapons are strategically essential to deter the United States and maintain national prestige. . . .

Ahmadinejad and Hitler

By on 8.14.06 | 12:29PM

Over at RealClearPolitics, John McIntyre points out some of the eerie similarities as well as differences between Ahmadinejad and Hitler, following the Wallace interview:

I found his answers to Wallace extremely cunning, crafty and dangerous. You can almost hear Hitler spouting out "grievances" of the Sudentland Germans and the Germans in Danzig/> when you hear Ahmadinejad take up for the Palestinians, Lebanese, and Iraqis. Granted, Hitler controlled one of the most powerful and advanced societies in the world by the late-1930's, and Ahmadinejad's Iran/>/> is far lower on the scale as a threat to project force. However, Ahmadinejad is making a play in many ways to speak for the world's one billion "aggrieved" Muslims, where Hitler only professed to speak on behalf of a mere 100 million Germans.

The Left on Terror: What, Me Worry?

By on 8.14.06 | 11:35AM

When conservatives accuse anti-war liberals of being unserious about the War on Terror, liberals respond that they take the terrorist threat very seriously and want to be tough on terrorism, but that they just oppose the Iraq War because it is a distraction. Two recent postings on DailyKos, the online headquarters of the Netroots Left that has taken over the party with the victory of Ned Lamont, provide contrary evidence. The first posting pokes fun at the U.S./>/> decision to ban liquids in response to the recent thwarted terrorist plot in which 10 airplanes were to be blown up. A taste:

 The Bush administration doesn't go far enough for me…

 Obviously, terrorists use airplanes.  So please ... just shut down the airlines already…