The Corner

Shifty, Nifty, and Thrifty

In response to Leon Kass’s Latest

There are plenty of reasons to oppose Rubio’s nomination — among them that he either lied about his and Chuck Schumer’s immigration bill or he didn’t even know what was in the landmark legislation he was flacking — but his finances are not among them.

The Times’s contention that Rubio’s spending habits tell us anything about his politics, even if that spending were imprudent, is disproved by the counter-example of Michael Dukakis. The liberal governor of Massachusetts, described by President George H.W. Bush as ”the gold medal winner in the tax-and-spend competition,” was famously tight with his own money. He used a push mower to cut the grass. He had a 25-year-old snow blower. I remember reading that he saved his chewing gum before giving a speech and went back to it afterwards. When the 1988 Democratic hopefuls were dubbed the Seven Dwarves, Dukakis’s nickname was Thrifty (Biden was Shifty, Gore was Nifty, Babbitt was Cranky, and so on).

Personal fiscal responsibility is indeed a trait we should cultivate. But it’s no guarantee of sound policies by a politician.

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