Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

1. The president’s incompetence in the debt-ceiling pro-wrestling fake crisis was rather stunning.

2. He said the Republicans were acting irresponsibly by provoking default to get one-sided policy/budgetary reform with no real popular or legislative deliberation. There is something to that assertion. But Obama was too responsible (afraid) to let them be irresponsible. So his charge of irresponsiblity, which had some popular traction, suddenly has no relevance. He caved, in effect, because he wanted the deal more than his opponents. (Our president was, in fact, pretty naive in believing that he could benefit by not pushing up that ceiling last December—drawing the Republicans into some “grand deal” that would be compromise he could actually believe in. He couldn’t even sell the proposition that not all tax increases—including much needed loophole closing—are job-killing evildoing.)

3. It remains to be seen whether this result actually benefits the Republicans. Any fool can see that we need big-time entitlement reform, mainly because of the demographic issues I’ve discussed before. That doesn’t mean that America has bought into Tea-Party constitutionalism or Koch brothers libertarianism.

4. People—ordinary working stiffs who have been drifting Republican lately—aren’t going to be thrilled when they start to figure out all the dimensions of the movement from DEFINED BENEFITS to DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS. They are going to have to be shown that they’re more NECESSARY than CHOICEWORTHY.

5. Pete is surely right below that the Kennedy/Huckabee charge against Romney that he’s basically the kind of guy who laid you off will surely work. Pete is also right (on another channel) that the Ryan-Rubio ticket would seem too extreme and one-dimensional. The Ryan plan is more change than Americans can believe in right now, and an election that turns on its merits will go to Obama. So the Republicans need a candidate with a more populist dimension than any we’re thinking about right now. Pete (again) is right that Bobby Jindal might be able to get the job done, but he’s not running—nor has he signed up for a charisma transplant.

6. One piece of good news: The Democratic left is ticked off enough at our president that a primary challenge is now not inconceivable. And studies show that’s almost always bad news for incumbents.

7. A lot of the cuts we seem to be embracing seem unjust or imprudent—those to programs that benefit the unfortunate (like people with Down’s Syndrome and Alzheimers) and to defense, for example.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles