The Corner

Ted Strickland Is Intellectually Dishonest (and a Clown)

I have a question for Ted Strickland: What in hell is “economic patriotism”? More specifically, what in hell does perennial ward-of-the-state Ted Strickland mean by “economic patriotism”? Both Strickland and his wife spent a great deal of their lives on the public teat, in publicly funded institutions and in elected office. So far as I can tell from his biography, Strickland has not worked for a profit-oriented enterprise in his adult life, and his only nonpublic paychecks have come from a Methodist children’s home and a fellowship at Harvard’s Institute for Politics. He spent most of the 1970s and early 1980s desperately trying to climb aboard the federal gravy train, unsuccessfully running for the House three times. People who have spent most of their lives supported by taxpayers probably should be more circumspect when criticizing . . . taxpayers.

Economic patriotism: It is not as though the idea is without historical roots. (It was called fascism back in the day. Contemporary economists refer to it by the technical term rank stupidity.) The idea that economic problems are at root political problems that can be overcome with sufficient executive dedication — the theme of Strickland’s speech — is very familiar. As Charles Maiers put it:

In a larger sense, fascist economics was not really economics at all. As Hitler wrote, economic issues were problems to be overcome by political will. The original appeal of fascism consisted in part of its promise that ordinary people need not be powerless against what often seemed inevitable and overpowering economic trends.

Take that junk back to Duck Run, Strickland.

Strickland’s speech was remarkable in its intellectual shallowness and all-purpose nastiness. He went so far as to invoke Scripture against the demon Mitt Romney:

Mitt Romney has so little economic patriotism that even his money needs a passport. It summers on the beaches of the Cayman Islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps. In Matthew, chapter 6, verse 21, the scriptures teach us that where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. My friends, any man who aspires to be our president should keep both his treasure and his heart in the United States of America. And it’s well past time for Mitt Romney to come clean with the American people.

This is of course boob bait. Strickland is very protective of the automobile industry — but where does he think GM’s overseas profits live? They mostly live overseas, even after the Obama administration violated applicable precedent to make $19 billion dollars in GM’s global taxes disappear. Mitt Romney, Bain Capital, Gawker Media, and a raft of other investors and businesses with multinational presences organize their affairs to reduce their tax burdens and other expenses, and they’re evil, greedy, SOBs in Strickland’s view. GM uses political favoritism to beat billions and billions of dollars in taxes and that’s “economic patriotism.” And GM’s latest product? Dreamed up in China, manufactured in India. Is that what Strickland mans by “economic patriotism”?

Strickland argues that subsidizing Chrysler is “economic patriotism.” Given that Chrysler is an Italian company these days (majority owned by Fiat), patriotic toward which patria, exactly? (Italy of course has a rich history with the idea of “economic patriotism.” Didn’t turn out well.)

The most clownish of Strickland’s attacks on Romney was this: “To him, all profits are created equal, whether made on our shores or off.” When an American firm makes profits on overseas business, how exactly is that bad for the country? Presumably, even in Strickland’s economically illiterate view, the profits that China earns in the United States are good for China. Why aren’t the profits that American firms earn abroad equally good for the United States Answer: Of course they are, but you can’t say that in a DNC speech.

The general theme of the DNC thus far has been single-entry bookkeeping: Even if the bailouts were a good idea — and the Democrats are running on a bailout platform, remarkably enough — there were costs associated with them. No Democrat has talked much about the cost side of the ledger, even as the national debt crosses $16 trillion while they hoot and holler in Charlotte.  Taxpayers are out billions and billions on the GM deal, and the company still is in slow-motion collapse, with sales growth lagging far behind competitors such as Kia and Volkswagen.

In fact, if GM survives, it will be in no small part because of (ATTN: Ted Stickland) profits made off our shores, specifically from the dread Chicoms — for they are mad for Buicks in Beijing. (I’m driving a Buick this week in Charlotte, incidentally, which still offers the classic sofa-on-wheels Buick experience.) Which is to say, a lot of those auto jobs Strickland is so proprietary about depend on the foreign-earned profits he deplores. This is not only contradictory, but juvenile and intellectually dishonest as well — a DNC product, in short.

Democrats say Clint Eastwood seemed incoherent? Eastwood’s co-star in Every Which Way But Loose could deliver a more economically coherent address than Ted Strickland.


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