Posted: July 29, 2014
“That pattern involves taking provocative executive actions on sensitive, divisive issues to isolate people he detests, knowing it will invite a sharp response, and then using the response to scare his own base voters into thinking they are under assault when in fact they are on the offensive.”
Yuval Levin‘s post at The Corner is bracing, and revealing, noteworthy not only because of the insights expressed here, but as an example of what team NRO does best: the most lucid writing on these matters you’ll find anywhere.
From Legalization by Edict:
“…the notion that the president can respond to a failure to get Congress to adopt his preferred course on a prominent and divisive public issue by just acting on his own as if a law he desires had been enacted has basically nothing to do with our system of government.
In one sense, the approach the president is said to be contemplating does fit into a pattern of his use of executive power. That pattern involves taking provocative executive actions on sensitive, divisive issues to isolate people he detests, knowing it will invite a sharp response, and then using the response to scare his own base voters into thinking they are under assault when in fact they are on the offensive. That’s how moving to compel nuns to buy contraception and abortive drugs for their employees became “they’re trying to take away your birth control.” This strategy needlessly divides the country and brings out the worst instincts of people on all sides, but it has obvious benefits for the administration and its allies. Liberals get both the substantive action and the political benefit of calling their opponents radicals and getting their supporters worked up. Obama’s legalization of millions would surely draw a response that could then be depicted as evidence of Republican hostility to immigrants, rather than of Republican hostility to illegal executive overreach that tries to make highly significant policy changes outside the bounds of our constitutional order.
But while the legalization now being talked about fits into that pattern in a sense, the sheer scope of its overreach would put it in a different category as a practical matter…(read more)
Posted: March 14, 2014
And it’s amazing how quickly and quietly it’s happened
Don’t get your hopes up. This guy says more insulting and bizarre things about conservatives and Republicans, on a word-by-word basis, than we normally see from writers that describe themselves as “right-of-center”. Why? Because the markers on the field are different in western Europe than they are here.
When Pascal mentions “innovative conservative policy ideas” that he supports, I shudder to think. Watch closely as he agrees with the Left about how Republicans are perceived. Because, you know, their critics are right. About how dumb Republicans are. And spends most of the article exploring different ways to call them stupid. Until, you know, recently. Sorta.
In France, a “conservative thinker” is probably somewhere in the range of a ‘big ideas’ Hillary Clinton-wing-of-the-party policy wonk here. Just a guess. Perhaps my judgement is too hasty. Let’s give Pascal the benefit of the doubt. He is writing for The Week, so, here goes…
Perhaps the worst sin of the GOP during the Obama era has been the party’s lack of interest in serious, innovative policy.
Thanks to the notion that opposing the White House was enough of an agenda, and the inchoate enthusiasm of the Tea Party, the GOP, it seemed, was great at sound and fury but had no ideas. Anything the GOP did manage to propose was either an old idea from the ’80s, just plain awful, or (most often) both.
“…but basically their sense was that the problem was that Republicans are dumb. Republican politicians would never take on innovative policy ideas because their base is made up of a bunch of backward troglodytes and their paymasters are robber barons only interested in tax cuts…”
If this narrative seems familiar, it’s because left-of-center pundits have been hammering these ideas for years. And they were right.
“…And in any case, to be a Republican is to have little interest in new ideas — or ideas, period…”
But now, these same pundits are conspicuously silent about how the trend is reversing — and fast.
Posted: February 2, 2014
A review of Yuval Levin’s Book The Great Debate
Jon Bishop writes: We too often assume that the left and right divide began with the eruptions of the ’60s or with the presidency of FDR. It is in fact much older — ancient, even, for it is not out of the question to assume that Greece and Rome faced similar questions. So Yuval Levin, with his The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left, has done modern American political discourse an incredible service by reminding us to always consider the historical context.
Levin takes the reader on a guided tour of the Enlightenment-drenched late 18th century and demonstrates how Burke and Paine, who serve as Levin’s representatives for conservative liberalism and progressive liberalism, respectively, adapted the thinking of the age to their approach to political questions. He draws from both their letters and published works — which make for great reading, by the way. Both, after all, were wonderful rhetoricians.
Posted: December 13, 2013
Obamacare is inimical to their values, too
Christopher DeMuth writes: Obamacare may or may not survive its inauspicious beginnings. It has become dangerously unpopular and accident-prone and faces a minefield of difficulties. Still, the Obama administration has a plausible strategy: to titrate the program’s numerous taxes, subsidies, mandates, and restrictions so as to forestall immediate legislative or electoral reversal, thereby entrenching its basic structure for tightening as future circumstances permit.
But the drama has made one thing clear: Obamacare will never achieve its promise of affordable health care for all paid for with improved efficiencies in health insurance and medical care. The initial troubles and compromises have revealed that the program improves “access” mainly by herding millions of people and firms into insurance they do not want or need. A great many will simply refuse, having little to fear for the time being, with the result that government expenditures will be far higher than projected. It is equally clear that the variety and quality of medical care will be seriously restricted for all concerned.
Collaterally, Obamacare is introducing a new form of government—improvisational government, characterized by continuous ad hoc revisions of statutory law by executive decree. This is a reversion to a primitive form that long antedates our Constitution and rule-of-law traditions. Transported to the modern world, it leaves the private sector in a state of constant uncertainty and subjection.
These developments have produced a strong partisan reaction. Republicans are commiserating with individuals who have lost their health insurance or seen their rates increase, and are introducing tactical bills to stay unpopular program elements. Obamacare was a partisan enactment and was designed, clumsily, in such a way as to generate identifiable victims—so the partisan response was inevitable and is, up to a point, serving a worthy function of public education.