The Spectacle Blog

Re: 1994 vs. Today

By on 10.31.06 | 10:08AM

Paul, just to add to your point about 1994 being different. Not only is there the national security issue this time around, but Democrats still haven't run an ideologically-based campaign the way Republicans did in 1994. Democrats have largely benefited from Republican mistakes rather than advancing a broad agenda to reform Washington rooted in a governing philosophy. The closest thing they have to a "Contract With America" is the "New Direction For America," but it reads like a laundry list: raising the minimum wage, negotiating lower drug prices, expanding college aid, etc. Of course, there's one other important difference between the two election years. In 1994, Republicans needed to gain 40 seats (they ended up gaining 52), but this year the magic number for Democrats is just 15.

Re: Gridlock

By on 10.31.06 | 9:43AM

If you only care about spending, then perhaps you can make the case for divided government. But, even then, it depends on the circumstances. The 1994-2000 period was a special case where you had a Republican Party that (at least early on) was dedicated to shrinking the size of government, and a Democratic president who was willing to triangulate. But should the Democrats gain control of one or both chambers of Congress, they certainly won't be slashing spending, and President Bush has shown absolutely no interest in doing so either. Perhaps, as some have suggested, he would be more willing to veto spending bills coming from a Democratic Congress, but that's a big question mark--after all this is the man who gave us No Child Left Behind and the Medicare prescrition drug benefit. Perhaps, in another time, it might be worth taking the risk and voting for divided government. But, as David pointed out, there's that whole issue of fighting terrorism.

Gridlock Good?

By on 10.31.06 | 8:28AM

I hate to take issue with my friend Bruce Bartlett, but his column today arguing in favor of a Democratic takeover of Congress misses the mark. In particular, this paragraph seems off:

I believe that the good economic times of the late 1990s resulted largely from gridlock -- Democrat Bill Clinton couldn't get his plans through a Republican Congress and he blocked its initiatives. So for a blessed six years government was basically on automatic pilot. The result was budget surpluses instead of deficits, low unemployment, high wages and a skyrocketing stock market. Who wouldn't go back to those times if we could? Bringing back gridlock could to the trick.

The economy isn't exactly in the doldrums right now. Unemployments is low, the Dow has reached a record high, wages don't seem to be increasing but total compensation is, and the deficit is shrinking. On that point, going back wouldn't yield huge improvement.

Amerika Uber Alles?

By on 10.31.06 | 8:22AM

On the heels of the New EuroTrash idiocracy story comes word from No Left Turns (via the European press) that Germans are leaving their country -- primarily for the USA -- faster than it can replenish them with new immigrants. Since you can imagine that none of the new immigrants are German and many are not European, and that the Germans in Germany presently can't reproduce quickly enough to keep birth rates coming, you have to wonder how a project like the EU can sustain itself as everyone who thought it up is starting to disappear.

1994 vs. Today

By on 10.31.06 | 7:29AM

Charlie Cook yesterday reported that there "is no ebb in the wave" for Democrats, and he predicted losses of 20 to 35 seats for the GOP in the House. He said Republicans should expect to lose, most likely, five or six Senate seats.

The dynamics we are seeing this year are eerily similar to those in 1994. The President and party are different, so are the issues, but the dynamics are comparable.

In 1994, Democrats were in trouble because of tax increases, a failed health plan, and the crime bill (read, guns). There were also a myriad of scandals that started in the late 1980s that moved voters, including many Democrats, to reject the party's candidates, including some once-popular incumbents.

RE: Excessive Film, Gore

By on 10.30.06 | 9:40PM

Paul: While the NY Times could quote the alarmist, guess they couldn't be bothered to find a scientist who might support the editor.

Speaking of editors, maybe the Times should hire the guy from Maine. Would be a big improvement.

In the Eyes of an Islamist Radical

By on 10.30.06 | 2:48PM


Pakistani troops backed by missile-firing helicopters on Monday struck a religious school purportedly being used as an al Qaeda training center, killing 80 people in what appeared to be the country's deadliest-ever attack against suspected militants.

The country's top Islamic political leader said American planes were used in the pre-dawn strike against the school -- known as a madrassa -- and called for nationwide protests Tuesday, claiming all those killed were innocent students and teachers.

Good: Any attack on Western or Israeli establishments in which innocent people are killed.

Big Spending and GOP Troubles

By on 10.30.06 | 1:00PM

In an excellent essay in the Washington Post yesterday, Dick Armey made the case that Republicans' current predicament stems from their abandonment of small government principles. Matthew Yglesias countered that the Iraq War is what's actually hurting Republicans, pointing out that "all of the key policy steps that Armey's citing actually came before the 2004 election, which went fine for the GOP." However, Yglesias is oversimplifying things by neglecting to mention other developments during the past two years and ignoring important distinctions between midterm and presidential elections. In short, the spending problem has gotten worse since 2004, and because this year's election is less consequential, disgruntled limited government conservatives seem more willing to sit out than they were when the presidency was up for grabs.