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Gerson Disgusted By Gerson's Dream Candidates

Mankind perishes. The world grows dark. McCain calls for a review board. ~Michael Gerson

This is apparently supposed to be an insult to McCain, who has expressed less than boundless support for the proposal to make the Treasury Secretary into financial dictator.  One doesn’t quite know what to say in response to Gerson’s complaints about cliche-riddled language and vacuity, except maybe to note that it takes such an accomplished master of both as Gerson to appreciate them so fully.  His complaints about the policy agendas of the two candidates are silly–Obama is running as a liberal!  McCain promises tax cuts!  Well, that’s because Obama is a liberal, and McCain is the nominee of a party that typically hates tax hikes. 

What Gerson does not know, or fails to acknowledge, is that the nominees he is berating represent, mostly for ill, precisely the sort of “centrist” positioning he so craves.  It isn’t really true that “[p]ost-Bush Republicans actively alienated immigrants and adopted simplistic, anti-government rhetoric that narrowed their appeal,” since the standard-bearer of post-Bush Republicanism favors amnesty, cap-and-trade and, in all likelihood, the mega-bailout in one form or another.   Whether or not other Democrats have turned against “free trade,” Obama actually has not despite primary season pandering to labor, and his tax policy is not all that terribly different from Clinton’s.  He has made noises about Social Security reform that have made the likes of Paul Krugman nauseous.  That doesn’t mean that he will be enacting any reforms if elected, but it does make clear how clumsy and misleading Gerson’s depiction of the candidates is.  What is so strange about all this is that the two nominees have both been much more “centrist” than their respective party bases would have liked, so Gerson should be pleased.  On the whole the positions they have taken to get there are bad ones, but there is no question that this election is a dream come true for someone with Gerson’s horrible policy preferences.  On top of it, the cautious, hedging responses of the candidates to the crisis and Paulson’s proposal are much more appropriate than the mindless endorsement of a terrible idea that Mr. Bush has already given and will give again tonight.

Can I just say that we are very fortunate that Gerson no longer writes any of Bush’s speeches?  Can you imagine the melodramatic twaddle he would have the President spouting tonight if it were up him?

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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