I read the Diane Sawyer interview with President Bush, and I was once again favorably impressed with him. I don’t have a TV, so I didn’t see it, but my sister said he did fine. With the good news on the war, it will be up to the Donks to increasingly focus on the president’s domestic policies. (As to the good news, the capture of Saddam has led to a “cascade effect” of Ba’athists being rounded up – See Belmont Club and Ralph Peters on this topic.)(Updating this point — Den Beste has a good piece on the consequences of Saddam’s capture, arguing that Saddam’s insurgency was planned as a short war, a bet that failed. Austin Bay has one of his typically good posts on the Cascading Effects of Saddam’s Capture.)
One of my fellow ChicagoBoyz offered the thought that Bush may be good on the war, but that “His current monetary (weak dollar) and fiscal (big spending) policies are irresponsible in the extreme”, and noted that the “the 1994 Crime Law (gun and hi-cap-magazine ban) sunsets next year”, and that Bush may be willing to sign new legislation.
My mildly flippant but fundamentally sincere response was, more or less, as follows:
I agree that Bush is great on the war, and that it probably won’t hurt his reelection prospects. It may go south on us, of course, but I’m not counting on it. (See for example, this absolutely brilliant critique by Robert Kaplan, Think Global, Fight Local. Kaplan’s article raises various concerns. I hope Sylvain will write about it, since it echoes concerns he has raised here.)
As to the gun thing, if it gets to Bush’s desk I’m sure he’ll sign it. Any attempt to stop it will be in Congress. The battle will have to be waged there. Some libertarian/gun people will be mad if it happens, but the Donks will be worse, and they know it, so most of them will snarl and vote for Bush anyway. Maybe the gun folks will commit the ultimate political suicide and organize a “2nd Amendment Party” or something. What they really need to do is learn to explain to normal people who think guns are yucky and wrong why guns are actually a good thing. Someone needs to produce and promote a 50 syllable sound bite to explain to Jane Minivan why, say, ordinary people should be able to buy large magazines for their handguns. But since gun people also insist they have a right to their guns and don’t have to explain themselves to anybody, and resent being asked to do so, they are going to keep being a political faction that loses most of the time it is confronted directly. Oh well.
I’m not at all worried about the budget or the dollar or the trade deficit or any of that stuff. There is an iron rule of politics in this country: The party that wants to balance the budget always loses. The GOP was the “fiscal responsibility party” from Hoover through Ford, a pair of losers bookending a trail of tears. Reagan came in, smile and a shoe-shine, f_ck the budget, buy lots of guns, cut taxes too, woo hoo. It all worked out. Bush is doing the same thing, except he doesn’t have to take on inflation at the same time. I’m all for it. Open the spigots. Light a cigar.
Plus, Larry Kudlow and Niall Ferguson, coming at it from different angles, both think the current budget and debt situation is tolerable and that growth prospects are good. For one thing, debt service is cheap at these interest rates. Let the election cycle turn, as it inevitably will, in ’08 or ’12 or whenever, and the Donks can come in as the Mean Dads to shut down the party. They can clean the mess up. Then they can lose because it hurt so much to do it.
And we will party on.
UPDATE: A response to this post appears here.