George F. Will can be a brilliant writer, and he’s one of the few conservative pundits who, when pressed, will make sense or admit that he’s wrong. But I would hope that when he’s writing about something as large as the stimulus plan he could at least come up with his own objections rather than recycle the canards that have been making the rounds on the right wing talking points circuit.
Gary Wolfram of Hillsdale College notes that the size of the stimulus — the House-Senate compromise bill is $789 billion — is just slighly [sic] less than the amount of all U.S. currency in circulation and is larger than the entire federal budget was until 1983. Yet it is said that in the debate about this encompassing legislation — which concerns what government can and should do, and ultimately what kind of regime America shall have — people should “transcend” (so says Larry Summers, the president’s economic adviser) politics. What, then, would be left for political argument to be about?
It is said that the negligible Republican support for the stimulus legislation means that bipartisanship is dead. But what can “bipartisanship” mean concerning legislation that concerns almost everything?
John McCain probably was eager to return to the Senate as an avatar of bipartisanship, a role he has enjoyed. It is, therefore, a measure of the recklessness of House Democrats that they caused the stimulus debate to revolve around a bill that McCain dismisses as “generational theft.”
It seems that Mr. Will is disappointed that the Obama administration wanted to put economic recovery ahead of political one-upmanship. What a killjoy; so what if the unemployment rate continues to climb along with foreclosures? He wants to keep his gig as the taciturn schoolmaster on This Week, and if we’re all getting along, he might have to get a real job.
Mr. Will’s heart really isn’t in it, either; he’s quoting John McCain as the author of the “generational theft” line, when, in fact, it came from Michelle Malkin, the whack-job pundit who’s best known for advocating internment camps for illegal aliens, stalking the family of Graeme Frost, and publishing the private information of her opponents on her blog. In short, she’s not a nice person, and I would have thought that Mr. Will could do a little better than quote her second-hand. Even Mr. Will has expressed disdain for her kind of discourse.
I am sure that there are a lot of legitimate reasons to knock the stimulus plan that finally got hammered out by the House and Senate; as the president said, it won’t be perfect, and personally I would have preferred to see a lot more money sent to the local schools to fix the plumbing. But to complain that it’s considered bad form to attack it just for the sake of a political argument? That might carry a little more weight had it not been the Republicans who piled up the mountains of debt and lackadaisical oversight that brought us to this point. So it’s a little ripe for him to be complaining about the way someone else is going about cleaning up a mess he didn’t object to creating in the first place.