Ten Economic Pieces Worth Reading: December 29, 2009
The Brookings Institution Needs to Exercise Some Quality Control

In Which Clive Crook Carries Water for the Republican Hyenas...

Clive Crook: fifteen years ago I would have said--I did say--that he was the best of right-wing observers of North Atlantic political economy. But now? The brain eater appears to have eaten his brain. Completely. Paul Krugman has already noted--and lamented--this. But I think that I have to add my voice, because Paul is too mild.

What has happened in the past year is this: Consider health-care reform: Barack Obama has thrown his full weight behind a Senate proposal that is Republican Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's health-care reform proposal, and has also thrown the full weight of his presidency to pressure the left--which is saying: "wait a minute: this is Mitt Romney's proposal"--to get the entire left to shut up and soldier. Yet in spite of going several extra miles for bipartisanship to what was three years ago a Republican and not a Democratic legislative proposal Obama cannot attract a single Republican vote for it the Senate. Why not? Because Senate Republicans look back to 1994 and think that if they can make Obama appear to be a failure then they can pick up seats in the next election.

And what does Clive Crook have to say about it--about zero Republicans voting for a Republican proposal because they want to play the president-is-a-failure game? This:

Clive Crook: The real missed opportunity in Obama’s first year: Independents feel let down because Mr Obama said he would bridge the partisan divide and unite the country. Except for uniting left and right in disappointment, he failed.... Independents have much the most reason to be disappointed. They see – and are right to – a broken political system. Congress is polarised to its roots.... Mr Obama promised to strive for consensus. On issues such as energy policy, healthcare, education and immigration, there is no reason why moderates on both sides cannot make common cause. That is something many Americans long for. It was the great hope independents had of Mr Obama. In his first year, he rarely even tried. He simply chose not to exercise this kind of leadership. To be sure, moderate Republicans (an endangered breed) offered no encouragement, content to oppose for opposition’s sake. But Mr Obama made no stand against this. Instead he went with the flow, deferring to the implacably partisan Democratic majorities. This disengagement, this reluctance to lead, is the real disappointment of Mr Obama’s first year...

Barack Obama bears no reponsibility for the Republican failure to vote for a Republican proposal: he tried. Who does bear responsibility? Why, Clive Crook does. The Republican Senators think "if we just say no to everything Obama proposes--even if it is what a Republican President Romney would be proposing--journalists will call Obama a failure." And the Republican senators are right: Clive Crook does their bidding.

Why Clive Crook does their bidding is a complete mystery to me.

Brain. Eater.

Of course, it was also a mystery to me when he wrote:

Clive Crook: September 2008 Archives: [T]he Palin nomination. For the moment, that looks like a great success: she gave an amazing speech and, to the consternation of the Democrats and a large part of the US media, triumphantly vindicated McCain's decision to select her.... Palin blew the doors off the convention on Wednesday, bringing the torrent of derision over her nomination to an abrupt halt.... [...] Sarah Palin's speech. Astonishing. It was a fine convention speech--but, reading the text, no better than very good. What was just sensational, far exceeding my expectations, was the delivery. After the thrashing she has received from press and television in the past few days, knowing what was at stake for the party and for John McCain as she stood at the podium, with a good part of the nation watching and waiting for her to trip, her composure and self-assurance were simply amazing.... She not only touched on her own biography, in ways sure to delight small-town Americans across the land, she also asserted her command, as the governor of an oil-producing state, of the energy debate.... Well, the Democrats have a problem. They had a few days of calling her a clueless redneck, a stewardess, a nonentity, and she has hurled that back in their bleeding gums...

and when he wrote:

Clive Crook: September 2008 Archives: Democrats... lack respect for the objects of their solicitude. Their sympathy comes mixed with disdain, and even contempt.... Sarah Palin's nomination for the vice-presidency jolted these attitudes to the surface. Ms Palin is a small-town American. It is said that she has only recently acquired a passport. Her husband is a fisherman and production worker. She represents a great slice of the country that the Democrats say they care about - yet her selection induced an apoplectic fit.... Little was known about Ms Palin, but it sufficed for her nomination to be regarded as a kind of insult.... The problem in my view is less Mr Obama and more the attitudes of the claque of official and unofficial supporters that surrounds him.... [T]he fathomless cultural complacency of the metropolitan liberal... that expressed itself in response to the Palin nomination is the best weapon in the Republican armoury.... Democrats need to learn some respect.... Religion. Unembarrassed flag-waving patriotism. Freedom to succeed or fail through one's own efforts. Refusal to be pitied, bossed around or talked down to. And all those other laughable redneck notions that made the United States what it is.