But they got a lot of forks and knives
And they gotta cut something.
- Bob Dylan
If you want to know What's the Matter with Kansas
, a good first place to look is Brad DeLong's blog. There's a lot I like about his Semi-Daily Journal
- the blend of the intellectual with the geeky, the often-informative discussions, the occasional digressions. But what drives me insane is that, despite his role in the Order of the Shrill
, despite his repeated demands to "Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach him now," is that, deep down, he's just another Neoliberal economist, fiercely loyal to policies, ideas, and usually the politics, of the worst of the Clinton Era.
One of the interesting things about Paul Krugman is that, for the first few years of his Bush-induced shrillness, he stuck with the basic underlying economic beliefs that so pissed me off when he contemptuously dismissed the WTO protestors in Seattle in '99. But somewhere along the line - I would peg it around 2003, after it became clear that Enron wouldn't change anything - he beagn to come around. I'm sure he's still well to the right of, say, Dean Baker
, and certainly Max
, but I'd say that he now Gets It: he understands that this really is class war, and the wealthy are the only ones waging battle.
calls for "smart populism," and DeLong recoils in horror
What populist policies that we can think of would be smart? And how can we make our high politicians allergic to populist policies that are stupid?
Lyndon Johnson, yes. William Jennings Bryan, no.
And this is, to a T, why we had to spend last week
discussing how could we have this curious result that the rich have gotten richer, and the rest of us (as in, the other 99%) have gotten next-to-nothing. All due respect, but liberals like Prof. DeLong don't merely bring a knife to a gunfight; they deny there's a gunfight, and struggle to explain the shrapnel felling their comrades.
Republicans are already using the worst aspects of populism - xenophobia, racism, and implicit anti-Semitism* - to further their anti-popular economic policies. Hell, if Dem populists wanted to use unsavory populism to abet economic populism, I'm not sure they'd be able to wrest the Know-Nothing appeals from Republicans' cold, dead hands.
As Tom Franks
suggests in the Times
today, let's win now with policies that help the 75% of Americans falling behind, expressed simply, and fret about the decadent era of our policies when it arrives, if it ever does.
* Nearly every adjective applied to liberals and the media - coastal, cosmopolitan, elite, etc. - is identical with universally-understood anti-Semitic code of just 60 years ago.
[PS - much of this is a comment
I posted over at DeLong's]