Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Friday, September 08, 2006

And Eric Alterman Gets Medieval on Brad DeLong...

Eric writes:

Altercation: Notso Slacker Friday - Altercation - MSNBC.com: Come on People Now, Smile on Your Fellow Technocrat Everybody Get Together and Make Policy Right Now. Brad DeLong Makes a Mistake here when he writes,

While I am profoundly, profoundly disappointed and disgusted by the surrender of the reality-based wing of the Republican policy community to the gang of Republican political spivs who currently hold the levers of power, I do think that there is hope that they will come to their senses and that building pragmatic technocratic policy coalitions from the center outward will be possible and is our best chance.

He is not factually mistaken, of course. But he is mistaken in the sense that he is deluding himself and therefore misdirecting his efforts. When I was a freshman in college, I took Philosophy 101, and learned, via David Hume I believe, that philosophically speaking, just because the sun had risen in the east and set in the west every day since time began-—as far as anyone knows-—that was no reason to conclude it would necessarily do so tomorrow. I thought this brilliant at the time, but today I think it’s bullshit. So is DeLong’s “best chance.”

There’s absolutely nothing in Republican Party politics driving its members toward the goal of “building pragmatic technocratic policy coalitions” and lots of money, power, rewards and institutional arrangements doing just the opposite. (See Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, here, and Building Red America: The New Conservative Coalition and the Drive For Permanent Power by Thomas Byrne Edsall, here, if you doubt this.)

DeLong’s hope, while noble in principle, is emasculating in practice. And it’s one of many reasons why liberals continue get their asses handed to them, again, and again and again. This is war, and the other side needs to be soundly defeated—drowned in a bathtub, to borrow a felicitous phrase--before the sources of DeLong’s “disappointment and disgust” can be addressed as anything more than a dangerous delusion.

I really do need to take Paul Pierson out to lunch...

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