The Week

(Roman Genn)


Reading the papers, it looks like Republicans are running the most lowdown, dishonest campaign since the last time they won.

In his speech to the Democratic convention, President Obama said he merely wanted the top tax rate “we had when Bill Clinton was president; the same rate we had when our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs.” Clinton himself assured us that reelecting Obama would yield “a future of shared prosperity, where the middle class is growing and poverty is declining.” In the 1990s, however, the country was benefiting from favorable circumstances — technological, demographic, and geopolitical — that cannot now be replicated. Clinton’s tax rates, higher than those before or since, did not prevent us from reaping those benefits but did not help either. (The Clintonite argument at the time was that the tax increases would lower interest rates, but interest rates actually fell only after Republicans took Congress.) Obama has not governed much as Clinton did: There’s no bipartisan achievement on the scale of welfare reform. What Obama has done is apply the worst Clinton policies in less auspicious times.

The Democrats have decided to become the bailout party, and their convention in Charlotte was a florid valentine to the government takeover of General Motors, which they believe to be a great success. What do Democrats know that the stock market doesn’t? GM’s stock price has lost nearly half its value since January 2011. Most of the automakers have seen substantial recovery in their sales volumes since the passing of the recession, but GM’s 10 percent growth has been anemic compared with that of competitors such as Kia (up 21 percent) and Volkswagen (up 37 percent). It is still estimated to be losing about $50,000 on every Volt it sells, a testament to the frivolous, wishful thinking behind the so-called green economy of Barack Obama’s imagination. What about jobs? The industry has indeed added workers since the recession’s nadir — about 2 percent of the industry total. Democrats celebrate the GM bailout, an exercise in crony capitalism if ever there was one, based on the fiction that it saved the entire U.S. auto industry, which is preposterous. There were many possible ways to handle the situation at GM, and a government takeover that turned the normal bankruptcy process on its head, strong-armed bondholders, and shortchanged non-union affiliates in order to preserve the inflated paychecks and perks of the United Auto Workers union was only one of them.

Rush Limbaugh was wrong to call Sandra Fluke a slut, and he was right to apologize for it — but it is the best thing that ever has happened to her. Miss Fluke, who just finished up law school at the sprightly age of 31, has become a minor celebrity and was invited to bang her spoon on her high chair in a prominent slot at the Democratic convention. Her speech was a cavalcade of inanity: The republic faces many real problems, including economic stagnation at home and atomic ayatollahs abroad. But the Democrats chose to make the unwillingness of adult women such as Miss Fluke to pay for their own contraception, and thereby to spare the conscience of nominally Catholic institutions, the headline act at its dog-and-pony show in Charlotte. Georgetown Law graduates earn an average first-year salary of about $160,000, and even in a time when the law mandates that “children” be allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until they are 26, it is difficult to make a coherent argument that a woman approaching early middle age ought to be a ward either of her college or of the state. Miss Fluke claims to speak for the nation’s women. It would be a tragedy if she were correct.


October 1, 2012    |     Volume LXIV, NO. 18

Books, Arts & Manners
  • John R. Bolton reviews Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad, by Melanie Kirkpatrick.
  • Mackubin Thomas Owens reviews The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us about Coming Conflicts and the Battle against Fate, by Robert D. Kaplan .
  • Florence King reviews Vagina: A New Biography, by Naomi Wolf.
  • Kathryn Jean Lopez reviews Adam and Eve after the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution, by Mary Eberstadt.
  • Jay Nordlinger reports from the Salzburg Festival.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .