Thursday, January 31, 2008
Personal Asides: A Suggestion that We Cool It to Spare Me Penitential Fires...Rush Limbaugh Does It Again And Jim Cramer the Financial Populist.
Cooling Off Time.
To all my friends who so kindly defend me on this blog against Lawrence and to Lawrence as well: Let us continue to express our views apart from personal recriminations. The threat by Freiderich March not to submit his views because of the fighting causes me to suggest this. So the purpose of this note is to say your views are all welcome but let there be no battling back and forth between participantsbut make your cases robustly and honestly. As one approaching eighty, I am not offended by being called traitor to principle, precept, precedent, flag, conservatism, church or institutions of any kind. In addition, my Opus Dei confessor has given me a sweet penance before he granted absolution from my many sins. It is this: I am to endure all of Lawrences comments and not respondor have any of you respond. If you do, you will deprive me of the requisite days off from Purgatory. So do not answer him or defend medo not answer him in any respect--or I will be shorn of the good and the days off from the penitential purgatorial fire. Further, if you do not heed me and continue assailing each other, Mr. Powers is herewith instructed to impose the most severe punishment of alldeletion of your remarks. Well, then, we shall resume in that spirit. TR.
Rush Limbaughs show yesterday after McCain won the Florida primary was, I hate to say it, an exercise in juvenility. I dont know how many of you heard it. He took Mort Kondrackes view that he had lost and orchestrated it into a rally with himself as the candidate while a crowd of voices screamed Rush! Rush! Rush! Clearly this man is giddy with the symptoms of ego-illness. Every little mention of him causes him to inflate so hugely that I fear he shall explode like a big float having broken its moorings and drifting over New York city in its pre-Christmas procession, growing bigger by the second, rising ever-near the warm sun with the helium gas expanding dangerously at the joy of being even further recognized It is not enough that he is the nations premier talk show host, that he addresses 20 million listeners and that he earns about $40 million a year. He has determined to sacrifice what often is good analysis to make all of politics a referendum on himself. Thus evidently, normal recognition that comes from his profession is not enough--an evidently shriveled sense of un-worth demands evermore and evermore attention and hoped for adulation: like a spoiled child acting up before the adults at dinnertime. Now it is getting embarrassingrather like Mussolini strutting and shoving out his jaw on the balcony as thousands cheer.
Once more I say that I normally get a lot out of Rush but whenever his name is mentioned by whatever national source is cause for him to interrupt his show and make it a reaffirmation of himself. In so doing, I think he shall soon become very dull and the balloon will burst with the helium spewing out and the rubber covering falling shriveled to the ground. People do not turn on Rush to hear him carrying on about himselfbut to hear what very often are excellently phrased opinions. Ever since he has been on I have been bothered by his exaggerated sense of self but have decided he is not egocentric just joking. You know: talent on loan from God from the all-high Maharaja Rushbo and extolling every inch of my glorious naked body and as I am uniquely trained as a communications professional I will now take my awesome talent in hand before this golden EIB microphone and allow you to ask me any question whatever. These lines repeated endlessly every day for years have alternatively bored and baffled me but I always had the idea that it is his way of making fun of himself. I now think that is not the case. He has genuinely confused his role as commentator with conservative panjandrum who will not hesitate to destroy a candidacy ratified by the voters if they do not agree with his suppositions.
The other surrogates who share his views I dont bother about: Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter. As with him whom they imitate, there are no greys with them, only blacks and whites, only chiaroscuro. But that is the nature of the trade of conservative talk show provocateur. Rush is something different. He insists that he no one else shall be the ultimate topic. If he harms the Republican party, so be it. But if he continues with these absurdities he will harm himself and deprive us of what usually is very constructive views. Now your views.
Whenever I see this madman I await the appearance of attendants in white uniforms carrying straightjacket, muzzle and a wheeled cart to trundle him off. I thought I was alone until I read Robert Samuelson the other day. One of the best economics reporters with The Washington Post and Newsweek, he calls Cramer the hyperactive, loud and opinioned host of CNBCs `Mad Money. And Samuelson tells me what I must know about this frenetic performer who has become a multi-millionaire (supposedly worth $100 million) through his own hedge fund, graduated cum laude from Harvard College, then from its law school, made his haul at Goldman Sachs which he left to start his own hedge fund, quitting that and trying to get hired by District Attorney Rudy Giuliani who decided he was nuts. Anyhow, enough about him. Samuelson calls him one of a type. A type of financial populist, people who have fundamentally altered the climate in which the Federal Reserve makes economic policy. Now the populists hordes of money managers, commentators and economists follow Cramer in assailing Ben Bernanke to cut interest rates, revive the economy, boost stock prices. Theyre a powerful lobby and last week Bernanke seemed to capitulate. Did he?
No, the Fed thought its rate cut was to avert a panic but the shouting and chair-throwing (Cramers specialty) goes on purveying sensationalist views that promote short-term conditions, instant gratification, higher stock prices tomorrow, better trading profits shrieking that the economy is in dreadful shape. The cool-headed Samuelson counters: The Feds first responsibility is to keep inflation at low levels because, without that, its other goals of maximum economic growth and low unemployment become impossible Trying to make matters better now may make them much worse in a few years if higher inflation emerges.
Is Jim Cramer nuts? Or simply emotionally unbalanced? Who knows? But theres one index into his mindset that interests me. Guess who he favors for president?
Alan Keyes. Now what does that tell you?