Ever since Ronald Reagan ran for president saying he could balance the federal budget, despite his plans to cut taxes and balloon military spending, by rooting out all the "waste, fraud, and abuse" in the budget, we've been in thrall to the conceit that such a thing is possible. And certain politicians have made a name for themselves as brave investigators of wasteful government. Perhaps no one currently serving has more embodied this brave crusade than Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
As you probably know by now, Haley Barbour -- governor of Mississippi, former chair of the RNC and tobacco lobbyist, and potential presidential candidate -- is in a whole heap of trouble over some comments he made in an article in the Weekly Standard, particularly concerning his odd assertion that in his town, the White Citizens Council (known colloquially as the "uptown Klan") was actually a force for racial justice, running the Klan out of town. Needless to say, this is absurdly false.
Pat Buchanan has a predictably outraged column about the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (via Conor Friedersdorf), and in between the medley of culture war tropes ("San Francisco values...social experiment...homosexual lobby...1960s...elites...pseudo-intellectuals..."), he gives voice to what is no doubt a common sentiment on the right in the last couple of days:
Yesterday's L.A. Times had an interesting article with a funny headline: "Newt Gingrich, serious this time, mulls a bid for president." As the piece notes, Newt has "mulled" a bid multiple times before, always pulling away at the point where he'd actually have to start putting together a campaign. But is this year different?
Party professionals were impressed with the extent of his 2010 midterm election efforts. He traveled extensively to key states and donated to candidates through his political action committee. In the leadoff state of Iowa alone, he gave more than $100,000.
Residents of the Culpepper Garden Assisted Living Center attend a 2006 news conference about Medicare. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
When Congress was debating health care reform in 1993, conservative strategist Bill Kristol wrote a now-famous memo counseling Republicans that they must prevent the passage of reform, lest it "relegitimize middle-class dependence for 'security' on government spending and regulation … revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests … [and] strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government." The problem Kristol foresaw -- and today's Republicans saw with Barack Obama's health care reform -- was not merely that America