Monday, December 03, 2012

The Moving Hack Writes

And, having writ, moves on.

Nor all thy Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out
A Word of it.

Back in the Yaer of Our Lord 1996, when Arianna Huffington was a Republican activist and bundler for Newt Gingrich --
NOV 27, 1995,


LAST WEEK, NEWT GINGRICH SPOKE a few surprising words -- words that went astonishingly unnoticed, given their ominous ring. "We may lose next year," he told the annual meeting of GOPAC, the political-action committee he ran for nine years, "but in 11 months, working as a team, we made the tough decisions and laid our careers on the line." Wait a moment: lose next year? Was that Newt Gingrich, the leader of the political realignment, slayer of the New Deal, the most powerful congressional politician since Henry Clay?
What's going on here? How can a president who only last month backtracked on his proudest achievement-the 1993 tax increase -- and who is held in contempt by his own troops on the Hill have a 52 percent approval rating? And how can the speaker of the House, who has delivered on the legislative agenda of the revolution more decisively than even his most ardent supporters thought possible, have a 49 percent negative rating? Most important, how can the revolution move forward when Republicans have allowed its opponents to define it? 
If we are confident in the revolution, how can we continue to sleepwalk through the nominating process, and wake up, when it's too late, with a nominee using the megaphone of a presidential campaign to explain to the nation a revolution he does not understand? The prospect is as painful as hearing a Schubert song warbled by Roseanne.

Running for president would undoubtedly be the biggest gamble of Gingrich's political career. And there is absolutely no self-interested reason for him to do it. He has said that he would run only if there were a clear moral imperative for him to do so. As he and his wife contemplate the decision over the Thanksgiving break, here are not one but two moral imperatives, and, for good measure, a strategic imperative as well. 
-- Arianna's editor at "The Weekly Standard" -- Mr. David Brooks -- noted that while Republicans were sporting a raging Libertarian stiffy (spearheaded by that "whitehot" activist Grover Norquist) --

12:00 AM, AUG 19, 1996 • BY DAVID BROOKS
In 1995, the Republicans were filled with libertarian fervor. Activist Grover Norquist, who was whitehot during the first months of the Congress, explained that the Republican majority had been elected by the "Leave Us Alone" coalition -- by people who simply wanted government off their backs. Norquist was quoted in a Washington Post profile saying that the sight of the executive branch buildings in Washington made him "physically ill. . . . Neo-American fascism, stuff that looks like Albert Speer designed it."
-- Libertarianism was inherently a failed and doomed governing philosophy which the GOP was well on its way to abandoning:
In June the Republican freshmen, led by Radanovich, released a "Vision Statement," which layered religious and civil society thinking over the old Contract with America base. "We believe that reducing the federal government should not and cannot occur without a renewal of family, religious, civic, and business institutions in American society," the statement declared. Suddenly you can't walk down a hallway on Capitol Hill without hearing a Republican explication of Arianna Huffington's phrase "effective compassion." "If I were asked to reduce the problem to one word, that word would be 'compassion,'" 
But the Republican change of emphasis also illustrates more profound shortcomings in the libertarian approach to domestic policy. The libertarians are great at rebutting liberalism, but, in Harvard philosopher Harvey Mansfield's words, "They are governed by logic rather than reason. Their individualism presupposes that individuals are strong and independent, and does nothing to make them so. Libertarians rely on self-interest, as is appropriate in a liberal democracy, but they do not see that when an individual is weak, it may be in his interest to be dependent on government. They forget that self-interest, in Tocqueville's famous phrase, must be 'well understood.'" 
Furthermore, the political reality at the moment is that American voters, while critical of some of the government programs we have, have not given up on government itself. Politicians who preach the harsh line of cut, cut, cut end up about where Phil Gramm did when he ran for president.

That was all of 12 years ago.

I wonder how it all worked out?

UPDATE:  If there is a God in Heaven...

New York Times Seeks Buyouts From 30 in Newsroom

Aiming to cut costs in an increasingly troubled advertising environment, The New York Times announced on Monday morning that it would offer buyout packages to newsroom employees. While the primary goal of the buyout program is to trim managers and other nonunion employees from its books, the company is offering employees represented by the Newspaper Guild the chance to volunteer for buyout packages as well.
In a letter to the staff, Jill Abramson, executive editor of The Times, said she was seeking 30 managers who are not union members to accept buyout packages. She stressed that the paper had been reducing as many newsroom expenses as possible, like leases on foreign and national bureaus. But the hiring The Times has done in recent years to help make it more competitive online has restored the newsroom to the same size it was in 2003 — about 1,150 people.
“There is no getting around the hard news that the size of the newsroom staff must be reduced,” Ms. Abramson said in the letter.

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