Lightning Round: The Blinders of National Greatness.

  • Jonathan Chait defends Simpson-Bowles from liberal assault but in the process, makes a strange claim about the politics of deficit reduction: "But I do think that his [Obama] signing a major package of legislative reforms that has bipartisan support and would all but solve the medium-term deficit problem would be a political boon. Furthermore, it would probably help make public opinion somewhat more receptive to further stimulus." First, a plurality of Americans already prioritize further stimulus spending. Second, the public doesn't care at all about the deficit as a priority. Economic boom = political boon, full stop.
  • Ramesh Ponnuru criticizes the faddish and futile conservative crusade to repeal the 17th Amendment, correctly observing that "if 38 states were willing to enact this amendment, we would probably already be living in such a republican and conservative country that it would not be necessary to enact in the first place." Much like the view that the Electoral College is somehow a critical component of representative democracy, this business of going back to the "original" Constitution strikes me as mindless nationalism confusing itself for higher principle.
  • David Brooks has his finger on the pulse of the nation, as usual: "Before the next round of voting begins, I suspect we will see another mass movement: a movement of people who don’t feel represented by either of the partisan orthodoxies; a movement of people who want to fundamentally change the norms, institutions and rigidities that cause our gridlock and threaten our country." A mass movement organized around, in his words, "preserving American pre-eminence." Am I the only one who finds this sort of rhetoric creepy and a little dangerous? Sounds more like mob rule than patriotism.
  • Remainders: Party chairs aren't that important; Olympia Snowe will face a Tea Party primary challenge in 2012; yet another reason to conclude the deficit commission is not serious; Democratic congressional majorities usually are larger than Republican congressional majorities; and our new era of Republican congressional rule gets, at best, a "meh" from the public.

--Mori Dinauer

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