The Spectacle Blog

George Allen

By on 8.15.06 | 11:59AM

Over at The Corner, Tim Graham blogs on Senator Allen's Macaca remark. I agree with everything Graham said. The press blows up every GOP racial screw up, but Biden's Dunkin Donut remark or Hillary Clinton's gas station remark, barely a whimper.

Nevertheless, I have to add that this incident makes me question very seriously Allen's judgment. First, Allen's past on racial issues has long been fodder for the Democrats and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself.) Second, surely Allen must be aware of The New Republic's scurrilous article from earlier this year--so he should be on high alert for anything that even smacks of racial insensitivity. Finally, Allen made these remarks to a gent who was running a video camera!

Is Olmert Finished?

By on 8.15.06 | 11:30AM

Golda Meir was forced to resign as Prime Minister of Israel in the wake of 1973's Yom Kippur War, should the current Olmert government face the same fate in the wake of its failure in the war against Hezbollah? Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick answers a resounding Yes. I'm inclined to agree.

Fiscal 9/11

By on 8.15.06 | 10:38AM

When it comes to the issue of making true cuts in government spending, I'm a bit of a fatalist. In my view, the only way things will change is if we suffer a financial disaster on the scale of 9/11 as we collapse under the weight of the welfare state.

Pork projects such as the "Bridge to Nowhere" make great headlines, but at the end of the day the only way we're going to reduce the size of government is by making serious changes to mandatory spending on entitlements. Mandatory spending already accounts for a majority of the budget, and by 2016 it's projected to swallow up nearly two-thirds, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The failure of a relatively modest Social Security reform last year, with a determined president and Republican control of Congress, left me completely pessimistic about the chances of entitlement reform. While, in polls, people will say that they want smaller government and fear the Social Security crisis in general, when it comes to actually cutting programs that they like, they are opposed.

On Fiscal Conservatism

By on 8.15.06 | 9:42AM

Current politicos and would-be public servants love to describe themselves as fiscal conservatives and social liberals. It sounds so logical. We take a solid, quantitative look at the realities of money and budgets, but we recognize that there is nothing normative in the hazy realm of morality.

Unfortunately, the apparent coherency is only skin-deep. Social liberalism (as in moral laissez-faire with regard to sex, drugs, etc.) is an untenable position in a welfare state. You can't agree to pay for everything and then allow the partiers to empty out the coffers with their crazy behavior. Down that road lies financial ruin. We can't even talk about laissez-faire morality until the welfare state is scrapped or scaled back to a point we would find unrecognizable.

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.