Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Here's the most unintentionally hilarious thing I've read in weeks: Joshua Green at Bloomberg Businessweek discovering a swell way Mitt Romney came overcome the perception that he's a wimp:
So how to shake the wimp factor? The best idea I've heard comes from Irwin M. Stelzer in the Weekly Standard who suggests that Romney go after corrupt bankers like those behind the Libor scandal. This would allow him to get tough on an issue where outrage is warranted, the public will side with him, and the politics cut against his fast-solidifying image as someone who cares only about protecting the interests of his own economic class. Doing so would also, Stelzer points out, be perfectly consistent with the pro-market capitalism Romney espouses.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Stop, Josh, you're killing me.

You go to the linked article and you realize Stelzer actually thinks this is possible, and actually thinks it's consistent with conservative principles:
...where is Mitt Romney, with a golden opportunity to show that he is outraged at this latest effort of the banking community to appropriate to itself a still larger share of the national income, to show that he believes in a market manipulated neither by government bureaucrats nor by private bankers? It's not banker-bashing to criticize bankers when they deserve it. And it's not bad politics when that criticism lets Main Street know that Wall Street does not own this candidate.
Except that Romney is owned -- if not by Wall Street per se, then by plutocrats who absolutely do consider it "bashing" to mete out any harsh treatment, or even harsh words, to any big businessman, however deserving. Romney is also owned by a wingnut rank-and-file that shares this belief about giving Masters of the Universe immunity -- they're noble Randian heroes! -- despite gaining nothing from it personally, except possibly a Fox/talk-radio-fueled sense of tribal solidarity, based on shared hatred for all us evil liberals who think maybe a banker or two should be in prison, and maybe a regulation or two should be tightened.

In fact, Stelzer, while criticizing the villains in the LIBOR scandal, makes clear that he shares the right-wing view that liberals are evil. He's appalled that liberals are angry about this and Romney isn't:
Why not a simple comment from [Romney] that bankers' "monkeying with the Libor this way for their own financial benefit is outrageous"? Alas, that statement came not from Romney but from Barney Frank, who predictably sees congressional hearings and more regulations as the solution.
Yes -- alas! Because if a Democrat is angry about this, it doesn't count! Besides, those Democrats want all kinds of stinky old regulations! (Stelzer, I guess, wants to Romney to demand that banks swear on a stack of Bibles that they'll really, really never do anything like this again.)

Stelzer has all sorts of positions he thinks Romney could take and define as conservative:
Then there is the matter of consumer protection. Democrats seem to have a monopoly on wanting to save consumers from the big businesses with which they often partner. Why does Romney not agree with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that mortgages should be made more understandable to the borrower? After all, good conservatives should favor programs to eliminate "information asymmetry" -- a situation in which one party, in this case the lender, knows a lot more about the costs and risks inherent in a transaction than does the other party. He could at the same time take a swipe at the administration's preference for regulation, in this case the CFPB's 1,099-page proposed regulation to mandate a three-page mortgage-disclosure.
Again, explain to me how we deny banks an "information asymmetry" over mortgagees mortgagors without regulation. An honor code? And besides, which conservatives are really against information asymmetry in bankers' favor anyway? No movement conservative is against fat cats having all the advantages.

Stelzer even thinks Romney could call for breaking up the big banks -- in a totally non-liberal way of course. Are you getting how delusional this is? There'd be riots at the Republican convention if Romney did any of what Stelzer suggests. I actually don't think Romney would be nominated.

Stelzer's having an opium dream about a genuinely moral conservatism (a genuinely conservative conservatism) that hasn't existed in years. He's laboring under delusions. He needs help.


Batocchio said...

Deep in their hearts, they just know Romney is a responsible centrist.

Victor said...

This guy's writing is kind of like, "Remembrance of Things Past," meets "Alice in Wonderland."

The problem is, Conservatism has completely changed.

Now, one can pine for the good old day's all one wants.

But if one looks in a mirror, one will see "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Malice Put There."

Anonymous said...

Actually, the bank is the "mortgagee"; the borrower is the "mortgagor." Counter-intuitive, I know.

Steve M. said...

Thanks -- fixed now.

: smintheus :: said...

Stelzer has been delusional for a very long time.