The retail stores, despite the greatest economic slump since the Great Depression (we are told), were busy this weekend. There are plenty of sales, but the important things I could hope for can’t be found, discounted or not, on store shelves. Aside from good health and world peace, my list would include some items that feature extra helpings of political nostalgia and just desserts.
For starters, I’d like to have close political races in which the loser concedes promptly and gracefully. Al Gore bequeathed us not just environmental hysteria, but a new electoral tradition of heading to the courts after close contests. Norm Coleman appears to have won, but won’t “win” until the last court denies the final challenge and Sen. Harry Reid is convinced no good will come from sitting Al Franken by legislative fiat. This is a harmful and regrettable pattern which breeds ill will, paranoia, and litigation — an unholy trinity if there ever was one.
Next, I’d like a ban on “whither conservatism?” — and also “more or less God?” — columns. At some point pundits really need to get out of the way and let political leaders (ah, the people who run races and govern) find their own way. It matters not at all whether Kathleen Parker wants less religiosity. It matters much more whether Bobby Jindal can balance budgets and create a political following. Pundits really don’t pick the 2012 frontrunners; the voters do — in three years. (So ditto on the Sarah Palin “savior or curse?” missives. She’ll sink or swim on her own merits.)
After that I would like some straight talk on the auto bailout. How many congressmen drive GM cars? What’s the salary of the head of the UAW? How much did Big Labor give to the Democratic chairs of the committees which held hearings? You know, the important stuff. And better yet, how many cars would GM have to sell to pay back $10 billion in taxpayer “loans”? $100 billion?
Once we have that in our shopping basket, I’d like the repeal of McCain-Feingold. We’ve seen the demise of public financing as we know it thanks to the billion-dollar campaign of Barack Obama. And now we should see the end of the myriad of restrictions, limitations, and anti-free speech requirements that have made our electoral system a playground for lawyers. We might actually see this gift, now that Democrats have learned to love one free market, the market of campaign fundraising.
Moving along through the political shopping aisles, I — along with the editors of several liberal national newspapers — would like to see Rep. Charlie Rangel booted out of the chair and off the Ways and Means Committee. It is beyond laughable to have a serial tax and ethics violator in charge of tax policy. Once again, this present might be in the offing, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi discovers — thanks to the demise of William Jefferson, of frozen cash fame — that voters don’t like lawbreakers after all.
Then I’d like an informative confirmation hearing on Eric Holder. I’d like to hear how a Justice Department official thought it was appropriate to steer a fugitive’s attorney around his colleagues in the department in pursuit of a pardon. I’d like to understand how Democrats who lambasted Alberto Gonzales for capitulating to the political whims of the Bush administration find comfort in the appointment of an attorney general who couldn’t wait to say “yes” to the Clintons on the Marc Rich and FALN terrorist pardons.
Up next, I — in the company of a diverse array of liberals and conservatives — would like to see Chris Matthews off the air. He’s running for the Senate or for chief cheerleader for President-elect Barack Obama. And he shouldn’t therefore be appearing with the patina of journalistic respectability. His continued presence is only further damaging the NBC “brand” and is a continual reminder that once-respected media institutions have no shame. (Sen. Arlen Specter is no doubt rooting for a face-off against Matthews, the only time in Specter’s career in which he would be the darling of the Right.)
After all that I’d like commissioner of the Washington, D.C., schools Michele Rhee to succeed in instituting meaningful school reforms, if need be by marching over the carcasses of the teachers’ union officials who oppose her efforts to weed out bad teachers. Along the way it would be delightful to see her testify in Congress on the desirability of any measure — vouchers, magnet schools, or decertification of teachers’ unions — needed to pull inner-city youth out of the prison of awful schools.
And finally I’d like a nice knock-down-drag-out fight on the Employee (Not) Free Choice Act. Let Democrats explain why secret ballots are good for their elections but not for unions’. Let them justify why mandatory arbitration — whereby government officials would set terms and conditions of employment if the parties couldn’t reach agreement — is a good thing for the economy, in a depression no less. And let them reveal that the “new politics” is merely exchanging the other guys’ special interest groups for your own.
So I have my list — and hope that at least some of them will be delivered this holiday season. If instead I wind up with oversized Keynesianism, overstuffed national health care, and a mish-mash of garish government programs, I will be in the “returns” line with many of my fellow citizens.