The Agenda

David Weigel’s Case for Gary Johnson

One of the reasons David Weigel’s political reporting is so edifying is that he has an idiosyncratic mix of ideological views, and his contribution to Slate’s round-up of how its contributors will vote in this year’s presidential election makes for stimulating reading:

On about half of the issues that I care about, Barack Obama has been a massive improvement on George W. Bush. Drone warfare or lie-based land wars in the Middle East? U.S. attorneys running junk cases against “voter fraud,” or the DOJ trying to expand the vote? Endorsing the Federal Marriage Amendment, or refusing to defend DOMA in court? I agreed with an economic stimulus in 2009, as did the forgetful Republicans, who just disagreed about what should go in it. But Obama’s a mediocre executive who’s never figured out how to overcome opposition in Congress. I think Romney could be a great executive. If we fell into some Greece-like receivership, and a coalition of bankers installed a dictator to manage our economy, Romney would be perfect. Give him a Democratic Congress and you’d bring out his best instincts. My problems: If you trust John Bolton and Dan Senor to speak for you, who are you going to fill the government with? If you agree to a Balanced Budget Amendment that would require a California-style supermajority to raise taxes, what other dumb fiscal decisions will you make?

So I’ll vote for the Libertarian ticket, which I agree with on everything besides the scale and speed of spending cuts, and the first third-party team that actually seems competent enough to run a country. (Let’s face it, Nader voters. Would you have trusted him to run anything larger than a make-your-own-salad franchise?) But I guess I’m pulling for a 269-269 electoral vote split, which would give us a chastened President Romney and let us keep the greatest vice president in history, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

Matt Yglesias’s contribution is also worth reading, as it is admirably frank:

I’m voting for Obama because, basically, I strongly disagree with Mitt Romney’s views on abortion, gay rights, foreign policy, and such. I’d like to say I have reasons driven by detailed examination of the policy issues, but that’s really what it comes down to. On the economic policy issues I cover for Slate I think it’s a tough choice, but Romney may deserve the edge. Obama’s proposed second-term agenda of deficit reduction is misguided, and I think it’s reasonably likely that President Romney would emerge as a closet Keynesian and bring us a lower unemployment rate.

And I always enjoy reading Rachael Larimore and Michael Tuerck, the redoubtable minority of quasi-conservatives among veteran Slate staffers. The other entries, several of which are written by friends, are primarily interesting as a window into how liberals think about conservatives.  

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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