Dear Reader (and those of you who have this column banged out to you in tribal semaphore on goatskin drums at an Iron John sweat lodge),
I’m writing this while riding the back of a winged pig doing Mach 5. We’re going to be heading south — way south — to the Winter Carnival in Hell, where the massive snowfall has created a festive atmosphere. The ice-sculpture competition is a particularly big draw. This year the theme is “David Axelrod soils himself.”
By now you’ve heard the news that the seat controlled by Ted Kennedy or his clan since the days when Louis Prima was a household name has fallen into Republican hands.
I’m not going to dwell on this too long, because by the time the web monkeys shove this “news”letter into the pneumatic tubes, it will seem like a lifetime ago when the forces of truth and light laid siege to Camelot and won the Cathedra of Liberalism from its tower.
But it’s worth dwelling for a moment, because conservatives are due a few moments of gloating. Given how bad things looked just a year ago, and given the adamantine arrogance of the Dems even now, to see the political landscape flip like an Oldsmobile on a Chappaquidick road is an amazing thing. It kind of makes you want to kick open the doors of The American Prospect and do a little Ace Ventura dance while holding up a copy of the Boston Herald (“Can you feel that, Democrats? Huh? Can you feel that?”).
For some reason the image that keeps coming to mind is that scene from The Jerk where Steve Martin is eating at the fancy French restaurant and discovers there are snails on his wife Marie’s plate.
“Marie, just stay calm. Don’t look down. Don’t look down. Look up. Keep your eyes up and keep ‘em that way.
“Waiter! There are snails on her plate. Now get them out of here before she sees them!”
[Marie starts to look down.]
“Look away! Keep your eyes that way! You’d think at a fancy restaurant like this you’d be able to keep the snails off the food! There are so many snails in there you can’t see the food.
“Remove them! Bring me the cheese-sandwich appetizers you talked me out of.”
I kind of see the American electorate the same way. We were promised all of this fancy-pants great stuff from the Democrats. Their agenda wasn’t going to be left or right, but smart, and pragmatic, and intellectually elegant. It was going to be French! The progs talked endlessly about how we were finally going to have a European-style welfare state while keeping all of our economic dynamism and job growth. The technocrats could pick just the right policies, the way one might select this delicate canapé or that insouciant amuse-bouche.
And what did we get? A really expensive meal that’s hard to stomach, never mind look at, that we never really wanted in the first place, delivered by some hoity-toity types who can’t understand why voters are such philistines.
You don’t want snails on your plate because you’re a bunch of boobs!
Indeed, that’s the message from the liberal punditsphere. Watching Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann discuss the returns in Massachusetts, you’d think the obvious message from Bay State voters was that Democrats need to not only stay the course, but run on the theme of “A Snail in Every Pot.”
Speaking of Europe
This is of course a special brand of nonsense. But it is very old nonsense. As I’ve been writing for years, including in my book, the essence of American progressivism often boils down to the very simple desire to turn America into a “European” country. It’s as if the Royalists regrouped in the 1890s and have been working at their revanchist project ever since. Although even that’s unfair to the Royalists, because they wanted America to be part of Britain, and the progressives want America to be a Sesame Street version of Prussia.
Anyway, Mark Perry has a great chart showing how European countries match up with U.S. states in terms of per capita GDP (purchasing power parity). France? Well, it ranks right below Idaho and just ahead of Arkansas and West Virginia.
Meanwhile, Michael Boskin had a fantastic factoid buried in his op-ed earlier this week that I think is worth a column all by itself. While discussing France’s effort to cook its books, he writes:
A commission appointed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggests heavily weighting “stability” indicators such as “security” and “equality” when calculating GDP. And voilà! — France outperforms the U.S., despite the fact that its per capita income is 30% lower. Nobel laureate Ed Prescott called this disparity the difference between “prosperity and depression” in a 2002 paper — and attributed it entirely to France’s higher taxes.
Think about that for a second. The Left is obsessed with getting their “new New Deal” to fend off what they claim is a Great Depression-like recession. And yet, if America adopted the sorts of policies these people advocate, it would actually throw Americans into an economic depression.
And Now for Some Self-Promotion
First off, because of the rapidly changing news, I couldn’t run my L.A. Times column on NRO this week. So, for my piece on the Dems and the filibuster click here.
And here’s the column — on Haiti’s problems — that I wrote for NRO to sub for it.
In other news: Liberal Fascism has gone into its fifth printing in the U.K. and has just come out in Portuguese.
Oh, and I’ll be on Glenn Beck Thursday. No wait, scratch that. I will be on Glenn Beck’s TV show on Thursday. Physically, I will remain at a safe and tasteful distance from him.
I’m also in that Communism documentary of his, which I believe will come out on Friday.
And Now a Very Special Plea
I’m still working all of this stuff out. So, please send me ideas for regular features. And that sort of thing.
For instance, last week, someone said, “Maybe you should post Chinese-voiced-over animated videos of NR staffers settling public disputes. For instance, maybe you could get Jay Nordlinger to work out this whole Conan-Leno thing?”
Well, ask and ye shall receive!
Needless to say, the only way it makes sense for me to write the new G-File is if people actually read it (“If it’s needless to say it, why’d you say it, dumbass?” – The Couch).
The suits made me do this so they could sell ads in this space and other nefarious motives they did not care to elucidate. I said yes because I love you guys. Well, most of you.
Regardless, I can only continue to do it if TNGF catches on. So if you like getting the New Goldberg File, please advise the like-minded to get it too.
If you don’t, the terrorists will have won.