This morning on CSPAN viewers were treated to an interview and Q&A with Rep. John Larson, Democrat from Connecticut. It was a preliminary reading of what we might expect from the Democratic controlled Congress and it was a predictable mix of contradiction and paradox.
Mr. Larson is an amiable if largely unknown congressman who is a nearly perfect template for the contemporary Democratic sensibility, beginning with his deft but transparent plan for a “strategic withdrawal” from Iraq and ending with his pitch for “negotiated” prices for prescription drugs for Medicare patients.
When political considerations trump logic and common sense we can be assured that results will be flawed or outright disastrous. Therefore, when Mr. Larson recites the liberal prescription for success in Iraq by starting with a conclusion–withdrawal–there is every reason to suspect that his plan is the product of ill-advised and ill-considered reasoning.
Indeed, as Fred Barnes observed on Brit Hume’s evening news program yesterday, there has never been a military victory predicated on withdrawal. The impending report from James Baker and Lee Hamilton may provide a road map for a political solution but the inner circle buzz is that it will be a reliable recipe for protracting and compounding the problems by engaging Iran and Syria in a dialog. Two more duplicitous and insidious Middle East players would truly be impossible to find because our quaint, Western notions of good faith negotiations are the subject of scorn and ridicule for them.
Another theme throughout Mr. Larson’s remarks was the change in tone that the Democrats will bring to Washington as well as a genuine willingness to work with President Bush and Congressional Republicans. As a skeptical caller to the show noted, that will be a remarkable change from their current practices which feature obstructionism on key legislative measures and an unprecedented vilification of Republicans during a time of war.
Incredibly, Mr. Larson seemed mystified and uncomprehending when callers raised the issue of the shrill and ad hominen way in which Democrats criticized Republican leaders, with Rep Pelosi calling President Bush “mentally unstable,” and DNC Chairman Dean calling him a Nazi.
Constructive differences of opinion and policy direction are healthy and vital to our Republic and had the Democrats offered such during these ongoing debates their attacks may have been mitigated. But there was and remains a conspicuous lack of substance in their thinking and Mr. Larson’s economically naive nostrum for what amounts to price controls for prescription drugs for Medicare is a case in point.
European nations with an inkling of economic sense are moving towards market-based reforms and those that remain mired in Soviet-era Statism have economies that oppress their citizens and burden businesses. The Democrats can dress up their proposal as they wish but there is no real negotiation when the government is charged with establishing the pricing structure for pharmaceuticals and the result will be less choice and costs expressing themselves in oblique but nonetheless adverse ways.
That stated, the Republicans’ greatest fears may be realized if Mr. Bush fails to use his veto pen with sufficient temerity. If the party becomes a mere shadow or dim reflection of the Democrats on spending and the expansion of government, it will be guaranteed a permanent place in the political hinterland, one it richly deserves.
Mella is Founder and Editor of ClearCommentary.com