Friday, December 19, 2008

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

As the last person on earth to write about Caroline Kennedy, I too am pretty strongly against handing her a Senate seat. Nothing personal -- but I'm anti-dynasty, and feel that a Senate appointment requires at least some minimum threshold of experience and engagement. . . .

What makes the Caroline Kennedy business smell bad, then, is that it creates the appearance that the Kennedy crew is using their "early endorsement" capital primarily to get one of their own appointed to the Senate. The benefit they seem to be seeking is purely private. Plus, it's not like the NY Senate is an "under the radar" position. It's so extremely high profile and in everyone's face that it becomes obnoxious.

The whole thing just sort of stinks, frankly.


Now that Caroline Kennedy has thrown her coronet into the ring and declared her interest in ascending swiftly to the U.S. Senate, we can at least be thankful that the media won’t swoon on cue merely because of her surname. If she really wants this job – in the brutish political climate of New York, no less – she’ll have to take her knocks like anybody else.There was a time – her father’s time, actually – when journalists bowed and scraped when ushered into the presence of a Kennedy, and the results were often quite nauseating.


[T]he Republican Party's intellectual bankruptcy compounds its electoral problems. The race to be the "party of ideas" is over; the GOP lost. When one of the top House Republican leaders wrote about the policy vision for the party's future, and listed three failed ideas from the '90s, it only helped reinforce the point this is a party lacking in substance and policy direction.


Even though Republicans show few signs that they are humbled by their recent electoral losses and almost no ability to change, they will change because people adapt to their environment, and the power structure in Washington has changed dramatically. I see a lot of comments on blogs that predict that the Republicans will continue to be unified and effective as obstructionists in the next Congress. I don't think they will. I base this not on any evidence of change, but on an observation about basic human dynamics.

One thing that will make it easier for Republicans to adopt a more accommodating strategy is the aggressive outreach President-elect Obama is doing to high ranking members of their caucus.


Let's make something clear. What Bush and Obama are doing has nothing to do with "saving the free market" and everything to do with saving the hides of politicians who are responding to the cries of frightened people by overturning sound economic principles in favor of corporate handouts to failing companies who gambled and lost and now want the taxpayer to subsidize their recklessness and incompetence.

One of the greatest Democratic tricks this past 8 years has been the Patriotism Dodge: their inexplicable ability to convince the press that their patriotism was being attacked at every turn. Sadly, the press rarely followed up the Democratic harumphing with a simple corrective: "However, nothing had been said about their patriotism." Their feigned outrage after the Max Cleland ad was probably the first notable example of this misdirection tactic, but they used it routinely.

Even more impressive, if that is the word, has been the Democratic ability to play the martyred patriot even as they were explicitly questioning the patriotism of their opponents.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of the Rod Blagojevich affair this much is clear: his primary offense is not being corrupt but in being boring and vapid. Once, in the days when women had names like Madge and men still smoked cigarettes on fire escapes, American politicians offered entertainment and charisma in exchange for their dishonesty . . .

Curley. Long. Tweed. Daley. These were men who took pride in their work and gave the historians something to work with. Even their names carried a sort of adjectival flourish. But just as the end of the Cold War took with it the days when assassins were talented professionals (even the failed attempts at knocking someone off -- Castro's exploding cigar, for instance -- betrayed a certain flair for originality) ours is an era of failed corrupt imaginations. These days the Dark Hand guys cannot manage to rubout a garden-variety former-agent-turned-dissident without leaving a radioactive cookie trail all the way back to Moscow. It's enough to make Lenin roll over in his cryogenic crypt were that not also a casualty of the new order.

Photograph by Paul J. Richards/AFP-Getty

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