The Corner

Powell, Bloomberg & The Economist

The Daily Telegraph’s Peter Foster opines:

Colin Powell. Michael Bloomberg. The editors at The Economist magazine. What do all these three have in common? They are all harbour Republican sympathies, yet they are all endorsing Barack Obama for a second term.

For Mitt Romney these are dangerously sensible people to be throwing their lot in with Mr Obama, and he doesn’t have anyone on the other side to match them with. The Economist endorsement (courageous, given their readership) is also a terrible sign for Mitt. If the magazine of free-markets and the ‘one per cent’ can’t bring themselves to hold their noses and endorse Mr Romney, who can?

Well, we can disagree about whether Romney can find anyone “sensible” (to use Foster’s staggeringly patronizing term) to endorse his candidacy, but let’s look at some aspects of the record that Foster appears to have overlooked.

Colin Powell endorsed Obama in 2008. You can debate the significance of  his renewed endorsement of the same candidate, but not the fact that it is, notwithstanding a different Republican challenger, nothing (really) new. And just how easy would it be for Powell to have admitted that he got it wrong in 2008?

“Sensible” Mike Bloomberg?

It’s tempting to let that name just hang there, and laugh, but, no, let’s see what Foster has to say:

And then there’s Mayor Bloomberg, a former Republican, now an independent, who has also come out for Mr Obama because he wants to leave a better world for his daughters.

Um, as Foster doesn’t mention,  Bloomberg was a Democrat until 2001 (and thus presumably opposed to unsensible folk like Reagan and the first President Bush), who only “became” a Republican to bypass the Democratic machine that would never have picked him as its candidate for Gracie Mansion. In office he has acted, yes, as an establishment liberal, no fire-breathing leftist certainly (but, contrary to what some would claim, that’s never been a mandatory part of being a liberal) but no man of the right either.

Then there’s the “courageous” Economist, “courageously” backing Obama, just as it courageously endorsed him in 2008, the Democrats in 2006, John Kerry in 2004 and Bill Clinton in 1992, something that Foster chooses not to mention. It also endorsed “Red Ken” Livingstone in 2004 and Tony Blair in 2001 and 2005.  Foster doesn’t mention that either.  To be fair, the paper also endorsed Mrs. Thatcher three times and Mr Reagan once, as well as a very good number of other conservative picks over the years. Its endorsements are by no means a one way bet, but there’s nothing particularly novel about what The Economist has just done.

As an international news magazine, based in Britain, The Economist’s politics can be tricky to place, but it is above all, a journal of the establishment, of Davos Man, globalist, supranationalist, europhile, pro-free market (with some interesting twists when the EU looms into view), but not necessarily of the right. It still sees itself (broadly) as classically liberal, but in the many decades that I have been reading it (and I still have a subscription), that classical liberalism has mutated into something fuzzier, and distinctly less appealing.

Again, like Bloomberg,  it is not of the left, but it is a magazine that has strayed quite a distance from the Manchesterism of its founders into the swamps of, what to call it, Executive Lounge liberalism.  That’s a tried, profitable and market-tested concept, and The Economist will—as it knows—lose few subscribers over its second Obama endorsement. Its stable-mate, The Financial Times, is, of course, much further to the left, and continues to flourish.

A profile in courage? I think not.

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