Thursday, April 24, 2008

Joan Walsh gets it editor Joan Walsh is a San Francisco lefty who makes Bill Ayers look like a milquetoast moderate. She's also an Obamaphile who's starting to sober up from her overdose of Hope and Change, and who's got a hungover epiphany about Hillary:
Clinton is just a campaign jackhammer, shattering your resistance with detail. I tried to tune her out, but I found myself listening to her long lists of what she'd do to solve the health care crisis, the mortgage crisis, the college education affordability crisis. And suddenly, hey! She's talking to me! She told me she'd do away with FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid! Everyone hates FAFSA! . . . Clinton solved problems I didn't even know I had. . . .
Sure, Clinton's "Solve every problem" shtick can seem like pandering -- trust me, she is not going to get rid of FAFSA! -- but it can also seem reassuring.
Whether you like her or not, it's hard not to concede that Clinton's second act, in which she (belatedly) discarded Mark Penn's incumbent costume and put on her Harry Truman outfit, is working better.
Having twice been on hand to watch Hillary do her neo-populist shtick at rallies, I know exactly what Walsh is talking about. Hillary's got this laundry-list spiel that's just bam-bam-bam -- a relentless list of problems she's going to solve and greedy rich scapegoats she's going to fight. ("I'm fighting for you!") The Democratic audiences laps this stuff and screams for more.

Assuming that you know absolutely nothing about economics and have no fear of a tax-hungry omnipotent Nanny State -- that is, assuming you're a Democrat -- then Hillary will tell you exactly what you want to hear.

Oil companies are shamelessly profiteering, and Hillary's going to fix their little red wagon, so that within 90 days of her inauguration, gas will be 29 cents a gallon again. Insurance companies are shamelessly profiteering, and she'll fix that, too, so that within 120 days of her inauguration, you'll be able to get guaranteed pain-free denistry for the price of a cold beer. Mortgage companies are shamelessly profiteering, but by the time Hillary gets through with 'em, they'll be paying you interest.

OK, she didn't actually make those specific promises, but you get my drift. What Hillary's populist routine is, more than anything else, is a revival of the Promise 'Em Anything Democrat, completely indifferent to questions of what those promises might cost in terms of higher taxes and bigger government.

She's Hubert Humphrey in a pantsuit, promising government goodies to The People just for the sheer joy of hearing The People cheer her for making the promise.

Hillary flatters The People. She tells them what great and wonderful folks they are, and how horrible it is that they lost their job or can't afford a tank of gas or have to stand in line for their veteran's benefits. How tragic it is that The People must suffer and do without! There must be someone to blame -- someone rich and greedy and indifferent -- and she's going to make those bad people pay for the wrong they've done!

It's all utter nonsense to anyone who understands economics, but like I said, we're talking about Democrats. And of course, anyone familiar with Hillary's Wellesley-Yale Law-Rose Law Firm biography might chuckle at the idea of her as a blue-collar populist, but you ought to see her do her routine live in front of a Democratic audience. Her family was fairly affluent and she grew up in a nice neighborhood on the north side of Chicago, but when she's giving her speeches, Hillary makes it seem that the Rodham family was just scraping to get by on her Dad's meager earnings.

Hillary's act is neither more nor less bogus than Obama's act, and their policy presciptions are equally nonsensical. But Hillary's Old School populism is a proven recipe that partisan Democrats can't resist, and if she keeps serving it up hot, there's no reason the regular customers shouldn't keep coming back for more.

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