The Corner

‘Pinkerton’s Law of Political Regression’ Remains in Force

John Boehner’s debut speech as Speaker was both cheerful and humble. He was upbeat about what could be done in the 112th Congress, but humble about his place in the world, citing his Catholic faith’s injunction toward personal humility.

He also cited old Republican verities, such as the need for economy in government — even as he made clear that past GOP leaders had not always lived up to that limited-government tradition. After the Bush years, the Republican party does, indeed, seem to be returning to its businesslike approach to governance.

So far so good. But Pinkerton’s Law of Political Regression says, “Things are never as bad as you fear — or as good as you hope.” There was never much danger that Barack Obama was going to succeed in remaking a center-right country into a green-left version of Hyde Park, Chicago. And similarly, there isn’t much prospect that the mid-20th-century pillars of the welfare state are going to be repealed.

The change we need will come, if it comes, from the usual suspects: innovation and mass production. Few politicians, in either party, can ever see that change in advance, but we don’t need them to. 

— James P. Pinkerton, a domestic-policy aide in the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, is a Fox News contributor and the editor of the Serious Medicine Strategy blog.

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