Charles Farthammer this morning begins his column for some reason by burying a reference to a person, referring to “[Jimmy Carter’s] own White House counsel.” Mr. Farthammer should really be more clear, especially since President Carter had two men in that position. The person referred to in today’s column is the late Lloyd N. Cutler, by the way, not Robert Lipshutz. In case you were curious.
Here is the opening of the Farthammer Opus, followed by a smarmy comment from your friendly neighborhood blogger.
In the latter days of the Carter presidency, it became fashionable to say that the office had become unmanageable and was simply too big for one man. Some suggested a single, six-year presidential term. The president’s own White House counsel suggested abolishing the separation of powers and going to a more parliamentary system of unitary executive control. America had become ungovernable.
Then came Ronald Reagan, and all that chatter disappeared.
Yes, and then came George W. Bush, who really put that “scuttling the separation of powers” stuff to the test.
Farthammer’s point today, of course, is that there is too much whining about the structural weaknesses in American government, when, in fact, the real problem is that Obama is a socialist commie trying to shove a radical socialist commie program down America’s throat, and, by golly, America is a center-right country, and if I hear America described as that one more time I’m going to vomit.
The rage at the machine has produced the usual litany of systemic explanations. Special interests are too powerful. The Senate filibuster stymies social progress.
Yes, Charles, buddy. Look at the chart!
It is crystal clear that the filibuster is being sorely abused by the Republigoats in the Senate. It needs to be reformed, and there is no reason not to do so.
If only we could be more like China, pines Tom Friedman, waxing poetic about the efficiency of the Chinese authoritarian model, while America flails about under its “two parties . . . with their duel-to-the-death paralysis.”
Well. Tom Friedman is an idiot. On this we both agree. Cheers.
Another excellent point you make on which we agree, Mr. Farthammer sir.
Leave it to Mickey Kaus, a principled liberal who supports health-care reform, to debunk these structural excuses: “Lots of intellectual effort now seems to be going into explaining Obama’s (possible/likely/impending) health care failure as the inevitable product of larger historic and constitutional forces. . . . But in this case there’s a simpler explanation: Barack Obama’s job was to sell a health care reform plan to American voters. He failed.”
Yyyyyyyyyyyep. But he did NOT fail because of what you wrote next:
He failed because the utter implausibility of its central promise — expanded coverage at lower cost — led voters to conclude that it would lead ultimately to more government, more taxes and more debt. More broadly, the Democrats failed because, thinking the economic emergency would give them the political mandate and legislative window, they tried to impose a left-wing agenda on a center-right country. The people said no, expressing themselves first in spontaneous demonstrations, then in public opinion polls, then in elections — Virginia, New Jersey and, most emphatically, Massachusetts.
Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. Obama has failed because Americans voted for bold change in 2008. What they got was a rather milquetoast, slow-motion retreat from every opportunity to create actual reform. That’s why it has failed, Mr. Farthammer sir. Not because it was too “radical.” But because it was not enough so.
Well, look. I shall enjoy continuing to read your column every Friday, especially in coming years as the United States faces more and more difficult economic times due to out-of-control health care costs and insurance company CEOs who continue to suck money bags out of their firms the size of Denver. That shall be the world that you and yours have created. Not me and mine.