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“Hence the import of the current moment – its blinding clarity. Here stand the Democrats, avatars of reactionary liberalism, desperately trying to hang on to the gains of their glory years – from unsustainable federal entitlements for the elderly enacted when life expectancy was 62 to the massive promissory notes issued to government unions when state coffers were full and no one was looking.”
How do you top a line like that? Charles Krauthammer is brilliant.
It is no longer that clear to me, however, that the Democrats in Wisconsin or anywhere else are simply trying to hang on to their glorious past. At this pivotal moment—and if ever America faced a pivotal moment this is one—one must be tempted to at least entertain suggestions by Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh that this group of miscreants is deliberately trying to collapse the government, ala Cloward-Piven-Alinsky.
Here is truly blinding clarity for you. The recent labor unrest—and I use the term ‘labor’ loosely when referring to teachers—in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio is clearly being orchestrated by the White House. What we are witnessing is unequivocally classical radical organization, from the top down.
Neither am I as keenly optimistic as Charles that the public in Wisconsin or across the country understands what is at stake. Tip O’Neill was not being condescending when he said, ‘All politics is local.’ Yes the Democrats are taking bad press but they have also, as Charles points out, been masterful at changing the focus of the debate.
The question is whether or not the denizens of urban Madison and Milwaukee will take up tea party signs and join the march when the weather warms this spring and teachers in the inner city schools are being laid off in droves. Will they appropriately blame the Obama administration and Democrats when gas and food prices skyrocket? Or will they accept the party-line shuck ‘n’ jive the Left has so successfully used on them for decades?
Because layoffs and skyrocketing prices are coming.
For the past week and a half I have been severe on Scott Walker and Mitch Daniels, but I am not ignorant of the fact that the nation is soft on collective bargaining, whether in the private or public sectors. The public has not yet felt the sting of the price tag in their pocketbooks, or at least it has not associated that sting with the enormous costs of school teachers’ and firefighters’ benefits packages.
Government unions will survive, that is a given. We can neither afford them nor do they fit into any rationale of a free society, but the Democrats slipped them in, in the early 1960s, and we are stuck with most of them.
What is far more disconcerting is how the Democrats have chosen to approach the same kind of defeat that the GOP faced in the Pelosi House during the ObamaCare fiasco. Instead of standing their ground and taking up the debate they have walked away and deliberately crippled the government. That is just about as radical a move as we have seen in the 230-plus years of this nation.
Are we to expect the same behavior when the GOP retakes the Senate in 2012? Will the elected Democrats in the House and Senate simply disappear and allow the opposition to stew in its juices?
“We have heard everyone – from Obama’s own debt commission to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – call the looming debt a mortal threat to the nation. We have watched Greece self-immolate. We can see the future. The only question has been: When will the country finally rouse itself?
“Amazingly, the answer is: now. Led by famously progressive Wisconsin – Scott Walker at the state level and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan at the congressional level – a new generation of Republicans has looked at the debt and is crossing the Rubicon. Recklessly principled, they are putting the question to the nation: Are we a serious people?”
I sincerely hope that Charles is right in his optimism; we need to turn this corner fast if we are to stabilize the economy. But I am more than mildly concerned that the Democrats are simply better chess players than the Republicans and that they are still thinking two moves ahead.