...or at least it seems to meand maybe rightly so. But David Brooks has written a brilliant column in yesterdays New York Times that exudes optimism. Let me summarize it for you. Let me say that some of the ideas I dont agree with but listen anyhow. Brooks, a neo-con, says hes optimistic because:
o The International Monetary Fund predicts the world economy will grow by 4.9 percent [in the next several years]
which would be the second-fastest annual rate in three decades.
o Free institutions spread more quickly last year than in any year since 1972 says Freedom House.
o The number of wars with at least 1,000 deaths in battle has dropped by 80% since 1992.
o Air pollution levels are plummeting; over the last three years weve had the lowest level of ozone smog violations on record.
o Instead of the temper-tantrum left taking control of the Democratic party what he calls Clinton centrists are taking over. And in Chicago, Hillary laid out an economic agenda that Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute called remarkably centrist including a return to pay as you go budget rules (Congress couldnt raise spending or cut taxes unless it filled the hole in the budget right away, which Brooks terms the only effective way to restore fiscal balance.
o Robert Rubin and others have begun what they call the Hamilton Project which is churning out ideas in the mainstream, like free trade with a forthcoming book by Gene Sperling and Rahm Emanuel on how to increase savings and such.
On the Republican side,most of the news will be made by John McCain, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani showing that [t]his is a party in the midst of fundamental change. Also Mark Kirk and other Republicans unveiled a suburban agenda to help suburban families, not K street lobbyists. Brooks says on the Cato website theres an intriguing debate on fundamentals by David Frum and Bruce Bartlett. These free marketers acknowledge that in an aging society its going to be hard to cut the size of government, so they ask what do we do now?...[I]t may be time to cut the payroll tax and raise the top rates, to shift the burden away from those who bear the brunt of trade and immigration. He adds, The pseudo-populist renegades who rail against the establishment are being eclipsed by the canny establishmentarians
Theres an even bigger shift in attitudes about how politics should be done. The Stalinist on-message style is passé. The rising young politicians like Barack Obama and Lindsey Graham never talk in that predictable party-hack way. Mark Warner and Mitt Romney are building their campaigns around their ability to find common ground with political opponents.
Given that Ive said I dont agree with some of his views, do you feel he has a point? Itd be fun to have John Powers, Freiderich March, even Al Harris and Lovie Leather as well as everybody else comment on this (also Jim Leahy). What do you think?