Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

Mickey Kaus offers good advice: “Does the GOP Congressional leadership dare launch a fight over whether Davis-Bacon style wage schedules, beloved by organized labor, apply to various projects that use Obama’s stimulus funds? They’d almost certainly lose (as they did when the issue came up in the context of Katrina relief), but that wouldn’t be the point. The point would be to take a stand that would a) ventilate the arguments against Davis Bacon; b) highlight Obama’s dependence on Big Labor; and c) deter Obama from moving very far in the direction of non-market, bureaucratic determination of wages (through mandatory arbitration under the ‘card check’ bill, direct setting wage scales by the federal government under Davis-Bacon, and eventually, maybe, court-imposed wage-rejiggering to eliminate male/female disparities under the doctrine of ‘comparable worth’).” Besides, as Kaus points out, it is good policy and will add to the number of jobs “created.” But fat chance the Democrats and Obama will agree — it’ll be hard enough to explain to their Big Labor patrons that card check isn’t happening until . . . well, never.

The New York Times writers have it all wrong — limiting the Obama campaign promises are what will make him a successful, two term president. But a very centrist one. So in their book it’s hardly worth it, I suppose.

The Ken Blackwell forces reveal their weak hand and opt for Mike Duncan as the second choice. (Or is this the “anybody but Steele faction”?) “More of the same!” — there’s a slogan for a party on the decline. (Meanwhile a sister website pointedly declines to back Blackwell.)

First Norm Coleman claimed too many votes were being let in and now he’s searching for more. Other than “I  messed up in my initial strategy,” it’s hard to find a justification for this turnaround.

If there were further proof needed that the McCain campaign’s economic advisor was the worst possible spokesman for fiscal conservatism this piece provides it. The reason for Republican adherence to tax-cutting, he says, is merely so they won’t “dilute the brand.” No, sir. The reason is that from JFK to Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, low taxes and tax reductions have proven to be the most reliable method for spurring investment, growth and employment. And you wonder why John McCain lost? (Lots of reasons, but this was a big one.)

If you redefine “earmark,” there won’t be any in the stimulus plan. If you call it wasteful pork there are billions and billions worth.

Would Rob Portman be an improvement over George Voinovich? Most conservatives would say “Yes.” The hitch, of course, is getting a Republican elected in a state where the governorship, a senate seat and the presidential vote swung Blue since 2004. But arguably Voinoivich might have a tougher time than Portman, especially if the economy is still in a ditch and voters are in another “Throw the bums out!” mood.

Much as the Washington Post would like to conceal it, the House of Representatives’ rules changes pushed through by Speaker Nancy Pelosi are meaningful — and they harm both Republicans and Blue Dogs’ ability to offer meaningful legislative amendments. Odd, isn’t it, that the inside-the-Beltway paper doesn’t grasp the importance of denying the minority a key parliamentary tactic?

Marc Ambinder translates the Senate Democratic leadership’s surrender document on Roland Burris (make that Senator-elect [Senator-appoint?] Burris): “Wow, did we mess this up. The guy just did an end-run around all of us. We expected him to be Blago-like, but he wasn’t. He was senatorial. Agreeable. Maybe he can win…uh, downstate. And .. we messed up the racial politics of this big-time.  So… in order to save some face, we’ll just create a procedural defense: we always intended to seat the guy, but his paperwork wasn’t in order.  . . This has been an enormous distraction. Obama’s annoyed with us. Other senators are annoyed with us. The black caucus is annoyed with us. We need to move on, and quickly. Why didn’t we go with a special election, again?”

The MSM figures out that “continuity” is the new “change”: “In style and substance, Barack Obama is looking like he could be a different president than the candidate voters got to know during the campaign. Barack Obama has taken on a more somber tone as he prepares to take office. His message of changing the country has been replaced by one of repairing the country as he inherits crises that demand immediate action. ‘I want to be realistic here,’ Obama said in an interview that aired Sunday on ABC’s This Week. ‘Not everything that we talked about during the campaign are we going to be able to do on the pace that we had hoped.'”

The Justice Department “phone jamming” case filed against James Tobin, a New Hampshire state GOP official, was thrown out on appeal by the First Circuit. The case had been criticized as an effort by liberal-leaning career attorneys in the Department to criminalize common political activity. (Indeed a number of the attorneys who have been identified as Obama donors brought the case.)

What if Israel’s strategy is paying off? All those “cycle of violence” and “you can’t militarily defeat terrorists” platitudes will bite the dust. (For those paying attention, they also proved incorrect in Iraq,)

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