David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romney

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jbuck919
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David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romney

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:10 pm

Mitigate this one, John F, though I admit that the other side is thinking just as wishfully if they imagine Brooks's vision of the next Obama four years is far off the mark.


The New York Times

October 29, 2012
The Upside of Opportunism
By DAVID BROOKS

Let’s try to imagine what the world would look like if President Obama is re-elected.

Washington over the next four years would probably look much as it has over the last two: Obama running the White House, Republicans controlling the House and Democrats managing the Senate. We’d have had a long slog of an election before a change-hungry electorate, and we’d end up with pretty much the same cast of characters as before.

Obama would probably try to enact the agenda he laid out most clearly in his recent interview with The Des Moines Register:

Obama said he would try to recreate the Obama-Boehner budget deal of two summers ago, with $2.50 of spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. Then he’d try immigration reform. Then he’d cut corporate tax rates as part of corporate reform. Then he’d “weed out” unnecessary regulations. All the while, he would implement Obamacare and increase funds for infrastructure. This is a moderate and sensible agenda.

The first order of business would be the budget deal, averting the so-called fiscal cliff. Obama would first go to Republicans in the Senate and say, “Look, we’re stuck with each other. Let’s cut a deal for the sake of the country.” He would easily find 10 Republican senators willing to go along with a version of a Grand Bargain.

Then Obama would go to the House. He’d ask Eric Cantor, the majority leader, if there were votes for such a deal. The answer would probably be no. Republican House members still have more to fear from a primary challenge from the right than from a general election challenge from the left. Obama is tremendously unpopular in their districts. By running such a negative presidential campaign, Obama has won no mandate for a Grand Bargain. Obama himself is not going to suddenly turn into a master legislative craftsman on the order of Lyndon Johnson.

There’d probably be a barrage of recriminations from all sides. The left and right would be consumed with ire and accusations. Legislators would work out some set of fudges and gimmicks to kick the fiscal can down the road.

The ensuing bitterness would doom any hopes for bipartisan immigration reform. The rest of the Obama second term would be about reasonably small things: some new infrastructure programs; more math and science teachers; implementing Obamacare; mounting debt; a president increasingly turning to foreign affairs in search of legacy projects.

If you’re a liberal Democratic, this is an acceptable outcome. Your party spent 80 years building the current welfare state. This outcome extends it.

Now let’s try to imagine the world if Mitt Romney were to win. Republicans would begin with the premise that the status quo is unsustainable. The mounting debt is ruinous. The byzantine tax and regulatory regimes are stifling innovation and growth.

Republicans would like to take the reform agenda that Republican governors have pursued in places like Indiana and take it to the national level: structural entitlement reform; fundamental tax reform. These reforms wouldn’t make government unrecognizable (we’d probably end up spending 21 percent of G.D.P. in Washington instead of about 24 percent), but they do represent a substantial shift to the right.

At the same time, Romney would probably be faced with a Democratic Senate. He would also observe the core lesson of this campaign: conservatism loses; moderation wins. Romney’s prospects began to look decent only when he shifted to the center. A President Romney would look at the way Tea Party extremism had cost the G.O.P. Senate seats in Delaware and Nevada — and possibly Missouri and Indiana.

To get re-elected in a country with a rising minority population and a shrinking Republican coalition, Romney’s shape-shifting nature would induce him to govern as a center-right moderate. To get his tax and entitlement reforms through the Democratic Senate, Romney would have to make some serious concessions: increase taxes on the rich as part of an overall reform; abandon the most draconian spending cuts in Paul Ryan’s budget; reduce the size of his lavish tax-cut promises.

As President Romney made these concessions, conservatives would be in uproar. Talk-radio hosts would be the ones accusing him of Romneysia, forgetting all the promises he made in the primary season. There’d probably be a primary challenge from the right in 2016.

But Republicans in Congress would probably go along. They wouldn’t want to destroy a Republican president. Romney would champion enough conservative reforms to allow some Republicans to justify their votes.

The bottom line is this: If Obama wins, we’ll probably get small-bore stasis; if Romney wins, we’re more likely to get bipartisan reform. Romney is more of a flexible flip-flopper than Obama. He has more influence over the most intransigent element in the Washington equation House Republicans. He’s more likely to get big stuff done.

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Re: David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romn

Post by John F » Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:47 pm

I'm not an apologist for David Brooks or any other writer - he'll have to get by somehow without me. :) It should be no surprise that he favors the Republican candidate and that he finds what he considers to be good reasons to support his preference, both on the PBS Newshour and in his Times column; he's the token conservative of both.

His reasons don't strike me as very persuasive or even well-founded - it's you, not I, who posted this column here. But perhaps they're worth reading to remind us liberals that intelligent, well-informed people will be voting for Romney along with the clueless and the bamboozled. You wouldn't think that, to read many of the posts in the Pub, but it's true.
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Re: David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romn

Post by Steinway » Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:31 am

Brooks conveniently fails to point out the clear dangers of a Romney victory, including the most fearful of them all, two new right-wing Supreme Court appointees, increased decimation of union rights, women's rights, environmental issues and health care for millions of needy citizens.

Just a few of the many items every American voter better contemplate seriously before pulling the lever, of course assuming their opportunity to cast a ballot hasn't been denied by the Republicans.

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Re: David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romn

Post by karlhenning » Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:19 am

Cliftwood wrote:Brooks conveniently fails to point out the clear dangers of a Romney victory, including the most fearful of them all, two new right-wing Supreme Court appointees . . . .
But as he's a right-wing columnist, Cliftwood, I doubt he considers that even an obscure danger ; )

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Re: David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romn

Post by IcedNote » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:14 pm

Image

:D :cry: :oops:

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Re: David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romn

Post by diegobueno » Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:04 pm

Basically, he's asking us to reward the House republicans for their all-out obstructionism. He's saying that their scorched-earth tactics of blocking every little thing the president does is legitimate.

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Re: David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romn

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:05 am

diegobueno wrote:Basically, he's asking us to reward the House republicans for their all-out obstructionism. He's saying that their scorched-earth tactics of blocking every little thing the president does is legitimate.
Yes, in a sense the Republicans have blackmailed the country: "Put us in power or nothing will get done at all." And Brooks is saying that we should give in. I can think of at least one historical precedent for "fixing" a dysfunctional government by rewarding an uncompromising party with an extremist plan, and at the time there were lots of "moderates" like David Brooks smiling on that development too.

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Re: David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romn

Post by John F » Fri Nov 02, 2012 1:21 am

Those who are putting the worst possible construction on David Brooks's Monday column, taking it as an endorsement of Mitt Romney for President when it is not (Brooks is guessing at possible outcomes, not beating the drum for Romney), might consider this. Conservative or not, Brooks is an intelligent, insightful, and fair-minded man, and if we don't give him a fair hearing, we're shutting out one of the few sane voices of the Right.

That said, in this new column he overestimates the possibility of a "center-left majority" in Congress after 2010. Being a reasonable man himself, he's unwilling to accept the profound unreasonableness of the current House, with many in the Senate singing the same tune. The only "unorthodox agenda" that might have attracted votes from the intransigent Right, which was bent on his defeat from Inauguration Day and probably wouldn't have gone along even with proposals they themselves originally made, would surely have been rejected by Congressmen and Senators of the President's own party.

Wishful thinking, then. But who isn't subject to wishful thinking? The Corner Pub is full of it, on both sides or all sides, though the wishes are different depending on which side.


The Final Reckoning
By DAVID BROOKS
Published: November 1, 2012

Jan. 20, 2009, was an inspiring day. Barack Obama took the oath of office and argued that America was in a crisis caused by “our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.”

It was time, he said, to end the false choices between the orthodox left and the orthodox right. He called for “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. ... In the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”

Obama acknowledged that some people questioned the scale of his ambitions, the scope of his grand plans. But, he continued, “What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”

In some ways, President Obama has lived up to the promise of that day. In office, he has generally behaved with integrity and in a way befitting a man with his admirable character. Sure, he has sometimes stooped to the cynical maneuver. Contemptuous of his opponents, he has given himself permission to do the nasty and negative thing. But politics is a rough business and nobody comes out unsullied.

In moral terms, he hasn’t let us down. If he’s re-elected, his administration would probably remain scandal-free. Given the history of second terms, that is no small thing.

Moreover, Obama has been a prudent leader. He’s made no rash or disastrous decisions. He’s never acted out of some impetuous passion. His policies toward, say, China, Europe and Iran have had a sense of sober balance. If re-elected, he would probably commit no major blunders, which also is no small thing.

But the scope of Obama’s vision has contracted over the years. It has contracted politically. Four years ago, Obama won over many conservatives and independents. But he’s championed mostly conventional Democratic policies and is now mostly relying on members of his own party.

It has contracted managerially. Four years ago, Obama went to the White House with a Team of Rivals — big figures with big voices. Now the circle of trust is much smaller and political.

The mood has contracted. The atmosphere of expansive hope has often given way to a mood of aggrieved annoyance. He seems cagier, more hemmed in by the perceived limitations of his office. The man who ran on hope four years ago is now running one of the most negative campaigns in history, aimed at disqualifying his opponent.

Most of all, the vision has contracted. The arguments he made in his inaugural address were profoundly true. We are in the middle of an economic transition, a bit like the 1890s, with widening inequality, a corrupt and broken political system, an unsustainable welfare state, a dangerous level of family breakdown and broken social mobility.

The financial crisis exposed foundational problems and meant that we were going to have to live with a long period of slow growth, as the history of financial crises makes clear.

If Obama had governed in a way truer to his inauguration, he would have used this winter of recuperation to address the country’s structural weaknesses. He would have said: Look, we’re not going to have booming growth soon, but we will use this period to lay the groundwork for a generation of prosperity — with plans to reform the tax code, get our long-term entitlement burdens under control, get our political system working, shift government resources from the affluent elderly to struggling young families and future growth.

When people say they wish Obama had embraced the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan, they don’t mean the specific details of that proposal. They mean the largeness that Obama’s inauguration promised and the Simpson-Bowles moment afforded. They mean confronting the hard choices, instead of promising more bounty for everyone with no sacrifice ever.

But the president got sucked in by short-term things — the allure of managing the business cycle so that the economy would boom by re-election time. Instead of taking the midterm defeat as a sign he should move to the center, or confound the political categories, he seems to have hunkered down and become more political. Washington dysfunction now looks worse than ever.

Sure, House Republicans have been intransigent, but Obama could have isolated them, building a governing center-left majority with an unorthodox agenda. Instead he’s comforted the Democratic base and disappointed sympathizers who are not in it.

One final thing. No one is fair to President Obama. People grade him against tougher standards than any other politician. But his innate ability justifies that high standard. These are the standards he properly set for himself. If re-elected, he’d be free from politics. It’d be interesting to see if he returns to his earlier largeness.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/opini ... oning.html
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Re: David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romn

Post by Donald Isler » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:30 am

I totally agree with John F's last post. That's exactly the situation.
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Re: David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romn

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:28 pm

I thought we had had the last word on this, but apparently it is not only people here who think that what Brooks is suggesting is folly (perhaps too strong a word for John F's view of it). Here is--yup--Paul Krugman, and how about this? He doesn't hesitate to use the word "blackmail" either. (Krugman doesn't mention Brooks by name but I'd be surprised if he does not have him specifically in mind.)


The New York Times

November 1, 2012
The Blackmail Caucus
By PAUL KRUGMAN

If President Obama is re-elected, health care coverage will expand dramatically, taxes on the wealthy will go up and Wall Street will face tougher regulation. If Mitt Romney wins instead, health coverage will shrink substantially, taxes on the wealthy will fall to levels not seen in 80 years and financial regulation will be rolled back.

Given the starkness of this difference, you might have expected to see people from both sides of the political divide urging voters to cast their ballots based on the issues. Lately, however, I’ve seen a growing number of Romney supporters making a quite different argument. Vote for Mr. Romney, they say, because if he loses, Republicans will destroy the economy.

O.K., they don’t quite put it that way. The argument is phrased in terms of “partisan gridlock,” as if both parties were equally extreme. But they aren’t. This is, in reality, all about appeasing the hard men of the Republican Party.

If you want an example of what I’m talking about, consider the remarkable — in a bad way — editorial in which The Des Moines Register endorsed Mr. Romney. The paper acknowledged that Mr. Obama’s signature economic policy, the 2009 stimulus, was the right thing to do. It also acknowledged that Mr. Obama tried hard to reach out across the partisan divide, but was rebuffed.

Yet it endorsed his opponent anyway, offering some half-hearted support for Romneynomics, but mainly asserting that Mr. Romney would be able to work with Democrats in a way that Mr. Obama has not been able to work with Republicans. Why? Well, the paper claims — as many of those making this argument do — that, in office, Mr. Romney would be far more centrist than anything he has said in the campaign would indicate. (And the notion that he has been lying all along is supposed to be a point in his favor?) But mostly it just takes it for granted that Democrats would be more reasonable.

Is this a good argument?

The starting point for many “vote for Romney or else” statements is the notion that a re-elected President Obama wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything in his second term. What this misses is the fact that he has already accomplished a great deal, in the form of health reform and financial reform — reforms that will go into effect if, and only if, he is re-elected.

But would Mr. Obama be able to negotiate a Grand Bargain on the budget? Probably not — but so what? America isn’t facing any kind of short-run fiscal crisis, except in the fevered imagination of a few Beltway insiders. If you’re worried about the long-run imbalance between spending and revenue, well, that’s an issue that will have to be resolved eventually, but not right away. Furthermore, I’d argue that any alleged Grand Bargain would be worthless as long as the G.O.P. remained as extreme as it is, because the next Republican president, following the lead of George W. Bush, would just squander the gains on tax cuts and unfunded wars.

So we shouldn’t worry about the ability of a re-elected Obama to get things done. On the other hand, it’s reasonable to worry that Republicans will do their best to make America ungovernable during a second Obama term. After all, they have been doing that ever since Mr. Obama took office.

During the first two years of Mr. Obama’s presidency, when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, Republicans offered scorched-earth opposition to anything and everything he proposed. Among other things, they engaged in an unprecedented number of filibusters, turning the Senate — for the first time — into a chamber in which nothing can pass without 60 votes.

And, when Republicans took control of the House, they became even more extreme. The 2011 debt ceiling standoff was a first in American history: An opposition party declared itself willing to undermine the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, with incalculable economic effects, unless it got its way. And the looming fight over the “fiscal cliff” is more of the same. Once again, the G.O.P. is threatening to inflict large damage on the economy unless Mr. Obama gives it something — an extension of tax cuts for the wealthy — that it lacks the votes to pass through normal constitutional processes.

Would a Democratic Senate offer equally extreme opposition to a President Romney? No, it wouldn’t. So, yes, there is a case that “partisan gridlock” would be less damaging if Mr. Romney won.

But are we ready to become a country in which “Nice country you got here. Shame if something were to happen to it” becomes a winning political argument? I hope not. By all means, vote for Mr. Romney if you think he offers the better policies. But arguing for Mr. Romney on the grounds that he could get things done veers dangerously close to accepting protection-racket politics, which have no place in American life.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romn

Post by lennygoran » Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:34 am

Krugman's right on-how can you even think of giving in to the
Pledge and blackmail! Len

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Re: David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romn

Post by Steinway » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:57 pm

Len..

I second your thoughts completely. Krugman is right on.

Electing the chameleon will be a disaster for America and will set us back for decades.

Look carefully at who supports the Republicans..the likes of the Koch brothers, the fanatical Christian right, the Tea Partiers, the Fox dynasty, the Rush Limbaughs, Glenn Becks and Sean Hannitys of the media..and see if you can join them in their quest for power.

GOD help us if that happens.

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Re: David Brooks's wishful-thinking reasons to vote for Romn

Post by Teresa B » Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:58 pm

Ditto.

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