The media and John Edwards, &c.


Okay, let me start with my most partisan and paranoid point. Might as well get that out of the way, right? You know John Edwards? Former senator, former vice-presidential nominee, former presidential candidate? A big deal? Nice hair? He’s facing trial. And it should be a blockbuster trial, with sex, betrayal, and the whole nine yards. Should be a media field day.

I haven’t seen much coverage. I read a little story the other day, which reminded me of the whole affair.

If Edwards were a conservative Republican, instead of a liberal Democrat — would the media be enjoying this more, covering it more, rolling around in it? Making other conservative Republicans comment on it?

Am I the worst paranoid righty you ever saw? Or are there worse?

I realize coverage will probably be ample during the trial itself.

But for a few tens of thousands of votes in Ohio, John Edwards would have been vice president. Worse, John Kerry would have been president. But sticking with the matter at hand: Would Edwards have gotten his freak on as VP? Or would he have behaved?

Every now and then, it’s good to be reminded of the difference between freedom and unfreedom. Let me cite news out of Harare:

“A security guard faces up to 12 months in jail because of remarks on the Zimbabwe president’s health and a taunt over a snack of biscuits and a fruity milk drink, his lawyer said Friday.”

Here’s what happened: “After years of acute shortages of food and confectionary, the guard allegedly told a colleague that President Robert Mugabe ruined the economy and empty store shelves were only restocked by the former opposition party with cookies and soft drinks that his pro-Mugabe colleague ate for lunch.”

That sentence is a little hard to follow, but we get the drift. Here’s the next one: “Attorney Jeremiah Bamu said Friday the guard is charged with ‘undermining the authority’ of Mugabe and goes to court Aug. 12.”

The First Amendment is a rare, rare thing. So’s political freedom. And everyone wants it. Every person? No, of course not. Every people? Oh, yes — no matter what blogging huffers and others try to tell you.

Some weeks ago, I interviewed Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, and one of the best political thinkers we have. Not just one of our best politicians — one of our best political thinkers.

I asked him, “Are we going down the tubes?” (No sense dancin’ around.) I will give his answer, in close paraphrase.

We don’t have to. But we will, if we keep going the way we’re going. We have to reverse course. This reversal may be painful. But you know what would be really painful? Financial collapse: hyper-inflation, high interest rates, being dictated to by other countries, and all the rest of it. That would be brutal. Painful beyond belief.

Implement the Ryan plan, or some version of it. It’s not that Draconian. And we have to eat our broccoli — we have to live within our means.

But also: Take steps toward a high-growth economy. How can we grow at 4 percent a year for ten years?

We have to reform our tax system. That will give us a burst of dynamism. Eliminate as many of the deductions, credits, and so on as possible — the things that give power to politicians. Lower rates. Get rid of the capital-gains tax, or reduce it dramatically.

In other words, do the things that promote investment in our country.

No. 2: Develop a domestic energy policy that will give us another burst of economic activity. We spend $400 billion a year on foreign oil. And there’s no economic activity attached to it. No investments, no jobs created in our country.

But we have ample natural-gas and oil resources, perhaps more than any other country in the world. We’re like Rome at the end: seeking resources at the farthest ends of the empire, running all sorts of risks, instead of seeking and reaping closer to home.

And No. 3 — this one is controversial in conservative circles. We have to get our act together on immigration. We have to control our border — stop illegal immigration. That’s not controversial, of course. But this is: We then have to welcome people who can help us.

We’re a country that can absorb people from all over the world. The contract is, basically, “You share our American values, we allow you to pursue your dreams.” This fosters a vibrant, dynamic society.


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