Sunday, March 20, 2011


Tom Friedman in The New York Times today:

At a time when Japan is suffering a nuclear catastrophe that is likely to make the world even more dependent on oil and gas, at a time when the world's top oil and gas producers are entering what will be, at best, an unstable, and, at worst, a viciously violent transition from autocracy to, one hopes, democracy, and at a time when the combination of the two could slow down global growth while we're still trying to climb out of recession, America has no energy policy, no climate policy and no long-term plan to deal with its unsustainable deficit.

We're basically saying to the market and Mother Nature: "Bring it on. We're going to be dumb as we wanna be and put off all these big decisions, possibly until 2013, after the next presidential election, because our two political parties would rather focus on winning the next election and blaming the other guy than making hard choices."

Is this really what big-cheese pundits and other insiders think? That this is all going to be resolved in an adult manner after the 2012 elections? That all the right-wing insanity is just temporary?

Friedman is talking about right-wing insanity, as I'll explain below. I know most of you assume he's pure evil, but what he's advocating these days is a maddening combination of conventional-wisdom claptrap and (yes, I'm serious) good sense. In the column he sings the prases of Simpson/Bowles as a template for deficit reduction, but he also calls (as he frequently does) for serious green-energy efforts, because (sensibly) he thinks our present course is geopolitically and climatologically dangerous. So, really, the guy isn't completely awful.

He writes:

President Obama has the right convictions on all these issues, but he has not shown the courage of his convictions. The Republicans have just gone nuts.

I give Friedman credit for saying that Republicans are nuts -- on green energy, on infrastructure and education spending, and on raising any taxes on anyone, ever. But does he really believe this might end after the next election? Is that what other insider pundits and savants think?

How do we get it across to the insiders that right-wingers are crazier than that, that unless rising public outrage utterly crushes them -- i.e., crushes them much more thoroughly than in 2008, which is extremely unlikely -- they will continue to force a choice between stalemate forever and total Koch-o-crat, Scott Walker-style wingnut victory nationwide? How do we explain that they will never accept any other alternative?* They will not back down, no matter what happens to America. They won't back down even if Obama/Biden beat Palin/Bachmann in a Nixon-in-'72-size landslide (because even if that happens, they'll still probably win both houses of Congress, as the Democrats did in '72).

Friedman thinks that some point in the future the right-wingers will start acting like responsible adults who actually care about this country? Tom, that's an extremely dangerous myth. It would be extremely helpful if you and other political insiders eventually grasped this reality.

*Of course, in the interim, they will win many concessions from compromised Democrats, from the president on down.

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