Mark Schmitt is a senior fellow and advisor to the president at the Roosevelt Institute, a New York-based think tank affiliated with the FDR Library. He is a former executive editor of The American Prospect.
Our long national nightmare has just begun. There is now little doubt that the next three years will bring one revelation after another about the magnitude of congressional corruption. Democrats will relish this prospect, and “reform” will be an inevitable theme of the next two election cycles. But some political scandals lead to change, while others dominate the headlines for a year and leave no trace. Why? Some of it has to do with managing the media, but it also involves offering credible solutions. Scandals without solutions simply stoke public cynicism. And it is in just such cynical soil that the seed of corrupt big-government “conservatism” was planted.
DAVID BROOKS: THE VOICE OF YOUNG AMERICA. I like Ben Adler's headline, "David Brooks Does Andy Rooney..." It captures the most annoying undertone of Brooks' column on "hipster parents" (which was not totally unfunny -- let's be honest, there are parents who go too far in trying to make their kids into replicas of their own hipper selves; I confess I might have played some role in the fact that my 5-yr-old declares her favorite type of music to be "post-punk"). But when someone harrumphs like this --
HEY JOE: DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT. Here is my plea to Senator Joe Lieberman, a politician I've admired since I was seven years old: Please switch parties. We're tired of the game where you keep dancing ever close to the edge, hoping someone will pay attention to you. Just switch. The issue of our moment is the Iraq war, the pro-war side is the Republican Party. That's your side. Don't do Harry Reid any favors -- he'll manage just fine without you.
MIDDLE CLASS, OR SWING VOTERS? To much fanfare, including a glowing column from David Brooks, the new report from the "strategy center for progressives" known as Third Way has arrived: The New Rules Economy: A Policy Framework for the 21st Century." expands the argument that Third Way has made elsewhere, which is mostly that the middle class is doing fine, and Democrats should stop trying to sell pessimism, and instead adopt the inspiring philosophy they call "progressive realism."
When I was in college, during Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America," I had a classmate who is the person I always think of when I try to imagine the young George W. Bush. (Although the comparison is terribly unfair to this person, since unlike Bush, he has considerable accomplishment to show for his first 45 years on this planet.) This guy had a little motto, typical of the privileged-punk campus conservatism that was then just taking hold, and that would dominate the next two decades: "U.S.A!," he would declare, pumping a fist in the air, "We're five and one in major wars!"