Sticks and Stones and All That

You can always count on The Huffington Post for ridiculous ideological one-upmanship. Latest case in point? A short piece on Tim Kaine:

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine took to the National Press Club on Wednesday to gloat about the showing of Democrats in primary contests the night before. In the process he offered the usual platitudes: the party was rewarded for offering solutions to the economic malaise; enthusiasm is up as evidence of turnout in the Kentucky Democratic primary; Republicans find themselves in an ideological civil war, with Tea Party candidates knocking out establishment candidates, and so on.

The most interesting (least spun) tidbit of wisdom, however, came when Kaine was asked to address the common conservative complaint that the Obama administration represents socialism in disguise. Had the label hurt the party or the president, a questioner wanted to know.

“People love to throw label around and I think for most thinking Americans, throwing that label around actually doesn’t hurt us,” Kaine replied. “It suggests an extremism and an ideological rigidity that isn’t where most Americans are. We are problem solvers.”

Most Americans are problem solvers, or are just the Democrats?

“A party that just relies on throwing labels around and refusing to cooperate, they might get a headline but they won’t get support of people,” he added. “We are going to promote smart solutions to these problems and If the other guys want to rely on labels rather than roll up their sleeves and actually help us govern a nation at a time when governance is needed — it is an abdication of responsibility but they are not going to help their case by doing that.”

Really? I mean, really? Is any of this credible?

Sure, “socialism” is an over-used taunt. The “we’re all in this together” intent of socialist doctrine is missing from the ultra-big-government “smart” solutions that Democrats push. It is more like what Democrats have long accused the Republicans, of supporting “free markets for the poor, but socialism for the rich” (a not-very accurate description of the services available for the poor, or the habits of many of the rich), only turned on its head: The socialism of the Democrats is a “socialism of the well-connected and the ‘too big to fail,’” leaving the rest of us with a hobbled market.

But, hey, I am on record as deprecating “socialism” in most modern cases for “dirigisme,” or what Mises called “interventionism.”

So I agree with Kaine, right?


First, I deny that the solutions his party has been promulgating are in any way “smart.”

Second, if Republicans only support increasingly interventionist policies under a Republican presidency, but not under a Democratic presidency, that makes them look bad and obstructionist, sure — but their hypocrisy doesn’t make the Democrats’ idiocies any the less idiotic. Kaine, I am sure, is relying on just this sort of political alchemy to hold, here. It has worked in the past.

But I suspect times may have a-changed on us.

So does Paul Jacob, writing today on

Rand Paul’s supporters weren’t alone in celebrating his big win. The AP headline read: “Democrats relish Paul’s GOP win in Ky. Senate race.” Sen. Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, chortled over the “stark contrast between Rand and his opponent, state Attorney General Jack Conway.” He thinks Paul’s easier to beat come November than the establishment opponent Paul clobbered.

That used to be the rule. The more radical a candidate, the more likely to be trounced by the status-quo alternative.

But something’s different this time, right?

Not long ago Rand’s father Ron Paul was regularly ridiculed for being too extreme and “nutty.”

Now it’s the centrists who look nutty. Or, as Rand put it, “The tea party message is not . . . an extreme message. What is extreme is a $2 trillion deficit.”

But Sam Stein, back at The Huffington Post, doesn’t see it that way. He titled his little report “Kaine: Socialist Taunts Hurt Tea Party More Than Obama.” And he characterized the debate as all about the Tea Party, which Kaine does not mention:

This seems to get at a rather telling definition of politics in the first term of the Obama administration. The president clearly campaigned on the notion of bringing civility and comity to the political process. He got neither. But for all the damage that this failure would seem to engender, in many respects it’s helped Democrats as much as it’s hurt them. For starters, the wild name-calling and rhetoric has compelled the party to stop legislating with bipartisanship as the goal. Politically, as Kaine suggests, it’s had the effect of stripping an element of seriousness from the Tea Party veneer.

Yeah, that “Tea Party veneer” — it was once so sophisticated, but is now down for the count!

But hey: “bipartisanship” was never a goal, it was a promised means. The goal was, I suspect, always going to be to up the ante of Bush’s spending habits and spend like the crazed, deluded insider fools that Democrats are, by nature. The means just sounded good for elections. Did anyone really believe it? (I know I believed it no more than I believed Obama would quickly get the U.S. out of Iraq.)

Let me close with three final thoughts:

1. The Tea Party movement is not the GOP.

2. Co-operating with Democrats to increase government spending won’t gain for Republicans or anyone else much support from the now-incredulous Tea Party folk.

3. Socialism may be inaccurate to describe Obama’s political philosophy, but would a more accurate term, like “witless dirigisme,” make it sound better?

NOTE: The above-expressed disgust for Democrats should in no way be construed to mean support for the vile Republicans.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • I love this.

    NOTE: The above-expressed disgust for Democrats should in no way be construed to mean support for the vile Republicans.