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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

'The Right Seems Unable to Rise above Rabble-Rousing'

John Cassidy:

... Reaganism/Thatcherism, for all its faults, was a genuine intellectual movement, or counter-movement. These days, the right seems unable to rise above rabble-rousing. The end of the Cold War robbed it of an external enemy. The tensions between its social and economic wings robbed it of any internal cohesion. The financial crisis and Great Recession robbed it of a creed—laissez faire. It’s still got plenty of willing foot soldiers, and a lot of big money behind it, but where is the fresh thinking and intellectual direction? All that’s left is anti-government posturing, waving the flag, and Obama-bashing. And even in pursuing this limited agenda, it often gets its facts wrong.

The recent antics of Niall Ferguson "blatantly twisting a report from the Congressional Budget Office and presenting numerous other distortions and half-truths that anybody with access to Google could discredit in a few hours" leads Cassidy to

a question that’s been been on my mind every day since Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate: Where are the real conservative intellectuals these days? Surely there must be some, but sometimes it seems like all the right has to offer is a soap-box mountebank like Ryan, a trio of embittered Supreme Court Justices, and a few gnarled old Washington fixtures like Bill Kristol, George Will, and Charles Krauthammer. Given this vacuum, it’s relatively easy for an energetic and disputatious blow-in like Ferguson to emerge as one of Obama’s most visible, if not exactly persuasive, critics.

Ferguson argues this hasn't hurt his academic reputation. But it certainly didn't help it, and I would be more inclined to believe that his academic work is tainted by his ideology after seeing the conscious distortions (and his denials that he did it) in his piece on Obama that has brought so much (deserved) controversy. Even his friends are critical:

My friendship with Niall is, from my point of view, unshakable. ... I read Corinthians at his wedding and am the godfather of one of his sons. ... But I have a duty to write when I think he's wrong and why... So I have given my response. With all due respect, I think I do understand these issues as well as Niall, having covered and read about them for years. I'm not an expert, but I can't find an expert who agrees with Niall that there are no cost control efforts in the ACA. You can argue they won't work, as I've said. But you cannot argue they don't exist and on that basis say that Obamacare will add a trillion to the deficit. You cannot also monkey around with statistics, get no fact-check and expect no pushback.

Why are Republicans using such deceptive tactics? Greg Sargent via Brad DeLong:

the GOP ticket doesn’t want a great debate at all. Their entire strategy is designed to obscure the true ideological differences between both sides…. Romney has refused to detail his positions on issue after issue…. If they did want a contest between two grand visions, they wouldn’t be shying away from discussing the true nature and implications of their own vision. Yet they are doing just that.

This explains why the Romney campaign has been campaigning so heavily on two falsehoods about Obama’s policies: That he gutted welfare reform’s work requirement and raided Medicare to pay for Obamacare. The former claim is a distraction; the latter is about muddying the two sides’ actual differences…. The muddying is necessary because the actual Ryan vision for Medicare’s future is deeply unpopular. Same on taxes: Romney won’t detail how he’d pay for his deep tax cuts — which would disproportionately benefit the rich — because paying for them with middle class tax hikes would be politically unacceptable….

Republicans may not have much in the way of new ideas, but they do have a vision -- they just don't want you to understand what that vision is, or how it differs from what Democrats are proposing. That wouldn't be good for the cause.

    Posted by on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 11:41 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (42)


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