I'd like to talk about the financial crisis but I'm even more distracted than the Freakonomics dopes, who are using their NYT blog to take pictures of the soda locker in the U of Chicago business school and ponder moronic correlations between colleges with high SAT scores and reading Lolita and, um, Freakonomics. No way am I linking to them. Let me just say that when they talk about human behavior, they are boyish idiots. There is a whole profession just for them. It is called Economics.
And then there are the presidential candidates. My main problem with John Edwards leaving the race is that now the Democratic field doesn't have a Democrat. Hillary Clinton is the strong arm of the veiled Clinto-Republican Archimandrite that serves the invisible empire of capital gains. And Barak Obama. I don't know who he is the strong arm of because I honestly can't remember a policy statement of his five minutes after he's made it. I do think he's on Hillary's right. Today's Nouvel Observateur said "same thoughts, different styles." It's hard to argue with that.
Cognitive Dem therapist George Lakoff wrote an analysis that made me feel like a horrible cynic - for a second. He says Obama understands that the people "do not vote primarily on the basis of policies, but rather on (1) values, (2) connection, (3) authenticity, (4) trust, and (5) identity." Guess which politician understood this best? That's right, Ronald Reagan. Hence, Hillary, policy "incrementalist" - bad. Obama - boldness and empathy - good.
Lakoff is one of a long line of Dims who love and admire Reagan - the stylist, of course, not the ideologue. The elements of this love include the patronizing belief that the people need values and feelings and don't actually think; and a naive belief that the people are basically good, and could as easily vote for a liberal Obama as for a reactionary Reagan. This view is related to the Tom Frank-style thesis that people vote Right because they are duped about their own interests. It flows from the general American liberal phobia for political ideas and commitments, as strong in academics like Lakoff as elsewhere.
In fact, the voting majority of Americans are consistently conservative. They have been since the end of World War II when the government gave them a lot of free stuff (highways, subsidized suburbs, schools, universities, water projects) while pretending it wasn't, and since the 60s, when they took some criticism from students and black folks. Earth to George: maybe the voters liked Reagan because they liked what he said: cut taxes, crack heads, bomb Russia, lock up black males, and send in the Marines. Maybe they liked his warbling authoritarian personality. Maybe the United States is a conservative, rear-guard country!! Maybe it is closer to Columbia than to France. Maybe there are more than a few Reagan voters who would as soon see Obama get shot as get the presidency.
Which leads to two words: President McCain.