Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Quote of the Day (Leon Wieseltier, on the Right and the Recession)

“The response of the right to the crisis in America was to flee to its catechism. The Republicans propose to bail out the economy with doctrine. Unemployment is 7.6 percent and rising, and they say: let them eat Friedman.”—Leon Wieseltier, “Washington Diarist: Love Me I’m a Liberal,” The New Republic, March 4, 2009

As a political contrarian, I am skeptical of Wieseltier’s notion that “government is a jewel of human association and an heirloom of human reason.” The same leviathan that can attempt to right all wrongs has the power to filch from your pocketbook for purposes you may not approve and send your children abroad in wars you abominate.

But his argument in the quote above, about the responsibility of the right for our current economic meltdown seems to me inarguable.

At the moment, the electorate’s willingness to provide President Obama with wide latitude for dealing with the recession stems in no small part no just from the GOP’s wholesale stripping of governmental regulatory functions since the dawn of the Reagan Era, but also from the party’s continuing, clueless intellectual bankruptcy in suggesting an alternative.

Read this essay, too, for the final paragraph. Parts of it deserve to go into Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (e.g., “Democracy is the most mentally arduous form of government. No other system stands or falls on the quality of the individual's opinions.”) At some future point, the entire piece should be anthologized for its succinct summary of what has brought us all to this pass.

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