Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bobo's Grand Theory of history

If there's anything more sad that watching David "Bobo" Brooks try to talk about economics, it's watching him construct a Grand Theory of history. In this case, American history: The Role of Uncle Sam New York Times 05/28/2012.

In Bobo's Grand Theory, Alexander Hamilton established Social Darwinism and 19th-century style killer capitalism. And we did perfectly fine with it, until the Progressives came in at the turn of the century and mucked it all up.

And the Tide Of History now compels us to return to the 19th century, with a few tweaks here and there. Because, "If the U.S. doesn't modernize its governing institutions, the nation will stagnate. The ghost of Hamilton will be displeased."

Are The Voices who speak to Maureen Dowd now chatting with Bobo, too?

More likely, it's just Bobo straining mightily to put some highbrow varnish on the crackpot nostalgic for the Gilded Age and the robber barons that now dominates the Republican Party.

Bobo shows that he has some dim awareness that even in the early 19th century, there was something known as Jacksonian democracy:

In his engrossing new book, "Our Divided Political Heart," E.J. Dionne, my NPR pundit partner, argues that the Hamiltonian and Jacksonian traditions formed part of a balanced consensus, which has been destroyed by the radical individualists of today's Republican Party. But that balanced governing philosophy was destroyed gradually over the 20th century, before the Tea Party was even in utero. As government excessively overreached, Republicans became excessively antigovernment.
Bobo on Andrew Jackson? Please, no, no please!!! I'll steal one of my neighbor's chickens and sacrifice it live to the Great God Free Market if I can just be guaranteed I'll never, ever have to read a column of Bobo Brooks talking about Andrew Jackson.

Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog in There's now, at most, an inch of daylight between David Brooks and Glenn Beck 05/29/2012) points out that this paragraph is a key statement of what Bobo is really talking about:

In each case [here Bobo means basically the entire 20th century], a good impulse was taken to excess. A government that was energetic and limited was turned into one that is omnidirectional and fiscally unsustainable. A government that was trusted and oriented around long-term visions is now distrusted because it tries to pander to the voters’ every momentary desire. A government that devoted its resources toward future innovation and development now devotes its resources to health care for the middle-class elderly. [my emphasis]
Health care for old people! That's what's making the Great God Free Market angry, according to what the ghost of Alexander Hamilton is telling Bobo.

I'm guessing it was actually the ghost of Aaron Burr who appeared to Bobo, but I don't have time to elaborate right now. I have a chicken to sacrifice.


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