In the News
1. James Pethokoukis on what will, I’m quite sure, be the central Republican argument in the 2012 election battle:
The Republican charge is a body shot aimed right at the belly of President Barack Obama’s re-election effort: He made it worse.
No, not that White House efforts at boosting the American economy and creating jobs and “winning the future” were merely inefficient or wasteful, which they certainly were. Even Obama finally seems to understand that. “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected,” he joked lamely at a meeting of his jobs council.
Rather, that the product of all the administration’s stimulating and regulating is an economy that’s in significantly worse competitive and productive shape than when Obama took the oath in January 2009. He was dealt a bad hand, to be sure – and then proceeded to play it badly. At least, that is what Republicans have been saying. “He didn’t cause the recession as we know,” presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in New Hampshire yesterday. “He didn’t make it better, he made things worse.”
It’s a devastating piece from Pethokoukis, who is not exactly an Obama-hater. He assesses the results of the President’s massive stimulus and other efforts:
Indeed, the results are horrifying. The two-year-old recovery’s terrible tale of the tape: A 9.1 percent unemployment rate that’s probably closer to 16 percent counting the discouraged and underemployed, the worst income growth and weakest GDP growth of any upturn since World War II, a still-weakening housing market. Oh, and a trillion bucks down the tube. Oh, and two-and-a-half years … and counting … wasted during which time the skills of unemployed workers continue to erode and the careers of younger Americans suffer long-term income damage. Losing the future.
Next, add in healthcare reform that Medicare’s chief actuary says will not slow the overall growth of healthcare spending. (Even its Obama administration godfather, Peter Orszag, warns that “more drastic measures may ultimately be needed.”) And toss in a financial reform plan that the outspoken and independent president of the Kansas City Fed says he “can’t imagine” working. “I don’t have faith in it all.” Indeed, markets continue to treat the biggest banks as if they are still too big to fail.
But wait there’s more. Obama created a debt commission that produced a reasonable though imperfect plan to deal with America’s long-term fiscal woes. But he stiffed it and then failed to supply a plan of his own, sowing the seeds for an impending debt ceiling crisis and making an eventual fiscal fix that much harder.
The rallying cry of 2008 was “Change.” Will the cry of 2012 be “Change it Back”? Thus Marco Rubio chimes in: “Every aspect of life in America today is worse than it was when [President Obama] took over. Unemployment higher. Interest rates. The only thing that has gone down in America over the last two years is the value of your home.” Ouch.
2. J. E. Dyer writes in a rather quiet and deliberate voice, but she’s extraordinarily well-informed and thoughtful. If you’re a conservative and a Christian, you should check out her column, which appears at the Evangelical Portal on Mondays. Here are the final two paragraphs from her latest, reflecting on Operation Fast and Furious as a symptom of our government’s tendency to approach problems through collective, experimental social engineering that overlooks the fundamental values of the individual:
In the gunwalking incident, our government appointed itself to operate in an experimental manner without regard for the consequences to human beings. But it did this in part because we are a society that demonstrably tolerates government operating on that premise. We relate to each other in increasingly abstract, categorical terms—as quantities in a system, filtered by income level, race, sex, political affiliation; by the status of victim or oppressor; by ideological significance versus ideological insignificance—and we see it as increasingly normal for our government to relate to us in those terms as well.
This can justly be considered a form of spiritual sickness. But imagining that there is a collective, systematic “cure” for it would amount to committing the very error we decry. Government policies are the opposite of a remedy in this case. Indeed, the great adventure of our age may well be finding the way to de-privilege the whole premise of such solutions, which have come to fill our philosophical horizon. Policy criteria like statistics and tactical utility, however well we think we can assess them, have not turned out to be a basis for wisdom, hope, or virtue in human affairs. They encourage us instead to ignore the moral value of the individual, and treat each other as means to an end.
3. Our deteriorating relationship with Pakistan is starting to have consequences.
In the Pews
1. Rod Dreher’s “Second Thoughts on Same-Sex Marriage“:
Unlike Pat Robertson, I don’t worry that same-sex marriages will bring down the judgment of Sodom on America. What concerns me is that a concept of marriage that reflects the objective moral order has now been irreversibly displaced, and that in time, there will be dramatic consequences from this violence. What looks like a victory for liberty and equality will, I fear, prove to have been the point beyond which the atomization and dissolution of the family could no longer be arrested. It has happened before.
Could it be that we traditionalists don’t know what to say to the culture on this issue because it is no longer capable of hearing anything we might say? How can we in the church speak persuasively to the broader culture when we struggle to offer a coherent and compelling moral framework to our own young people?
2. A very interesting review of a very interesting book: Tim Challies on Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling.
3. Is the cult of self-esteem ruining our kids? Collin Hansen on the value of failure. Here’s the opening:
Your kids will fail. This is both inevitable and also necessary. Apparently not many parents today want to hear this uncomfortable fact. And they certainly don’t want to implement it in how they discipline their children. Writing the cover story for The Atlantic’s July/August issue, therapist Lori Gottlieb alerts us that the cult of self-esteem is ruining our kids. Convinced they are the center of the universe and capable of anything, our children have become insufferable narcissists. Then, when these kids grow up and fail, as they must, they head for the nearest therapist, worried their lives have gone horribly wrong.