Heroes

The adult expects his heroes to be great.

The child expects his heroes to be perfect.

Politics, as much as sports, makes us all grow up fast.

Santorum Crosses All Californians

Rick Santorum flat-out lies about California universities | Hotspyer

Normally, we don’t get involved in the back-and-forth of the campaigns, preferring instead to focus on a discussion of broader principles, issues, and policies. But we get our dander up when a candidate of any persuasion questions the patriotic credentials of Californians.

Rick Santorum apparently accused California universities for ruining the nation, claiming that “seven or eight” universities in the state do not even offer American history.

The University of California response:

But UC spokesperson Brooke Converse told Think Progress, which originally reported the story, that all University of California undergraduate programs require students to study American history and institutions, though the exact requirements vary by campus.

And from the California State University system:

The CSU requires each student receiving a baccalaureate degree to be knowledgeable about the Constitution of the United States, American history, and state and local government. This U.S. History, Constitution, and American Ideals Requirement is generally known as the American Institutions Requirement. You can complete this requirement either by completing the required courses (generally two) or, at some campuses, passing a comprehensive examination or a combination of coursework and examination.

When campaign rhetoric reaches this level of demagoguery, when a candidate has to lie in order to make his or her point, a line has been crossed.

Rick Santorum owes California an apology, and he needs to explain to us how he is planning on avoiding the spread of such disinformation in the future.

Hoekstra makes conservatives look bad

Letter from China: How Did Hoekstra Get So Much Wrong? : The New Yorker.

Evan Osnos explains in detail why Pete Hoekstra’s anti-China Super Bowl ad was just plain wrong. This has been covered in many places, but Osnos really knows his stuff, and he is nobody’s idea of a Sinopologist.

Thinking conservatives should distance themselves from this kind of demagoguery. Not only does it demean political debate with disinformation, it also give ammunition to liberals who would categorize conservatives as the automaton minions of special interests, or, worse, as a bunch of protectionist boobs trying to build government walls around outdated industries.

Let’s get this straight: Michigan’s economy has been shafted by the folly of the auto makers on the one hand, and the entitlement mentality of the UAW on the other. We need to learn from the mistakes of the industry so we do not repeat them, and so that we can help rebuild the business. Laying the blame on the plate of outside forces – China, Japan, the WTO – does little more that institutionalize a somewhat pathetic victim mentality, and does little to solve the core problems: unemployed people and decaying enterprise.

Huntsman’s Fluency is Not the Point

Does it Matter if Jon Huntsman is ‘Fluent’ in Mandarin Chinese? | Asia Society.

A superb article by the Asia Society’s Chris Livaccari on the Society’s web site. Livaccari’s point is that the argument over presidential candidate

Ambassador Jon Huntsman was giving a speech at...
Jon Huntsman speaking at Tsinghua University in Beijing

Huntsman’s fluency is not the issue. The fact that he can communicate with – and understand – the people of China gives him an insight on America’s single most important foreign policy relationship that no other candidate can have.

No single factor should be sufficient to get any person elected to high office, much less the highest office of the land. As we have all learned, for example, charisma and eloquence do not a president make.

It is time we all made lists of issues we want our next president to handle. For me, China is awfully close to the top, right next to putting us back to work and restoring our competitiveness.

Maureen Dowd Gets It

The Republicans are now the “How great is it to be stupid?” party. In perpetrating the idea that there’s no intellectual requirement for the office of the presidency, the right wing of the party offers a Farrelly Brothers “Dumb and Dumber” primary in which evolution is avant-garde.

Having grown up with a crush on William F. Buckley Jr. for his sesquipedalian facility, it’s hard for me to watch the right wing of the G.O.P. revel in anti-intellectualism and anti-science cant.

via Egghead and Blockheads – NYTimes.com.

Perhaps better than I have or could, Maureen Dowd has captured the very raison d’ etre of Bull Moose conservatism: a determination to bestow upon American conservatism both a cerebrum and the moral courage to use it.

Parties, Platforms, and Politics

Coming back to the U.S. after five months, it is startling to see how much copy and chatter the 2012 Presidential race is taking up. As we step as a nation once more into that breech, some perspective is in order to keep our expectations in check.

Political parties in the American electoral system do not belong in the business of generating ideas, policies, or ideologies. The business of the political party in the American electoral system is winning elections through fundraising, organization, and mobilization. They are finance and logistics, designed to divine the mood of the American people and, at most, articulating an electable vision based on the thinking of people outside of the rough and tumble of the political process.

Policies and ideologies crafted amid the the electoral process tend to pander to the transient mood of the electorate. For that reason, ideologies born in this crucible tend by necessity if not design toward demagoguery rather than wise or humane principles. Policies designed in the heat of political battle are too often little more than old style campaign promises, commitments made in the name of garnering the support of one or another interest group. There is neither time nor opportunity amidst the chaos of a campaign to consider the appropriateness or practicality of such measures.

Ideologies are best born of principles formed by forces and processes that to the political mind are glacial. Policies are best the products of calm, measured consideration of the challenges facing the city, the county, the state, or the nation, and the full scope of action available to elected officials.

None of this is to suggest that either ideologies or policies are best formed in dark, smokey rooms or the rarified but equally exclusive halls of the American academy. Clinical detachment is as poor a field for good policy as the hothouse of campaign politics.

Instead, it is time more of us in the electorate ignored the seductive narcotic of the political cycle and focused instead on principles, policies, and ideas. America needs less political junkies and more wonks. I would argue our founders expected a degree of wonkishness among the electorate that party machine politics has done its level best to beat clean out of us.

Good policy is like good food. If you want it done right, roll up your sleeves and get into the kitchen. C’mon in: there’s plenty of room.