The Corner

Anatomy of Vero Possumus

It is odd that after five weeks we can pretty much see the next four years:

1) Gorge the Beast on the home front. Shock-and-awe, “We’re in the Great Depression” hysteria stuns the country into buying into what will be a multi-trillion dollar borrowing commitment. Once the desired social agenda is in place (and it is now), then there will be no alternative but to raise taxes and return wealth to its proper owners. (This is a variant of the Reagan-era “starve the beast” concept of cutting taxes, and supposedly cuts of wasteful spending follow — but a far more successful variant since taxing a few “greedy” is always easier than cutting everyone’s entitlements.)

2) Carterism abroad. The al-Arabiya interview, the Hamas billion-dollar stimulus (the Chinese loan us the billion to give them,) and the Russian rebuff on Iran (no “haggling” please) sum up the Enlightenment arrogance that soaring rhetoric, stated good intentions, occasional abandonment of principle, and demonstration of caring and sensitivity can win over almost anyone. Of course, that assumes that disputes don’t reflect genuinely antithetical values, but simply miscommunication and misunderstanding — or unnecessary “Manichean” world views of wrong and right. We’ve been here before between 1977-1980, so how it will end is no mystery. (No wonder they sent back to the owners the Churchill bust; whether the Brits send back one of Stanley Baldwin or Clement Attlee remains to be seen.)

3) The passive-aggressive style. We will get utopian rhetoric about a new ethical bar, followed by the nominations of serial tax dodgers, lobbyists, and DC insiders. We will hear sermons about a new bipartisanship, followed by comical attacks on talk radio, and deeming “unpatriotic” any who resent the ramming through of the largest increase in debt in a half-century. And there will be vero possumus oratory about a new unity and brotherhood, as serial attacks on private-jetting and Super Bowl-partying “rich” deliberately conflate the mega-rich with the small business-people and professionals who make between $250,000 and $500,000 and provide most of the nation’s jobs and the nation’s income tax revenue — and therefore must be both gouged and demonized in the process.

All that is left for central casting is the cardigan sweater and the fist pounding on the desk.