Friday, February 13, 2009

Just say no to the centrists

Jonah Goldberg makes a good point recently, denouncing the "centrists" who have been nibbling away at the "stimulus" bill:

"Led by Republican Arlen Specter, the centrists have boldly cut (perhaps temporarily) $100 billion or so from the stimulus package, in the name of fiscal discipline. But, as liberal critics such as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman rightly point out, they’re cutting it to prove their “centrist mojo,” not because they have real concern for public policy. If the bill had started out at $1 trillion, then $900 billion in porcine outlays would be deemed the “responsible” amount to spend.For certain Beltway centrists, the highest principle is to prove that you are attached to no principle. Rather, your duty is to split the difference between the “ideologues.” If one side says we need a 1,000-foot bridge to span a canyon, and the other side says we don’t need a bridge at all, the centrists will fight for a bridge that goes 500 feet and no farther, then pat themselves on the back."

Exactly. Endlessly splitting differences for the sake of "doing something" is not principled, nor is it good policy. Remember Vietnam? Lyndon Johnson tried forever to argue that he was the centrist--that some wanted to go to Vietnam and "blow up everything", and others wanted to just leave and forget the whole thing. But he was the centrist, splitting the difference, dribbling American men into Vietnam but limiting our tactics and firepower. It was a policy that failed. So very well may this "stimulus" bill, which seems more and more not to be a product of policy and clearly-defined goals, but instead of desperate accommodation.