David Broder: Insane or Demented?

Nah, it’s unfair to blame David Broder as though he were just a lone thinker and was not representative of “The Village” of Washington DC pundits. He should be seen as being a representative of what “The Village” thinks. First, let’s look at the rather glaringly obvious solution that Broder so casually rejects:

The nation is suffering simultaneously from high and persistent unemployment, lagging investment, massive public and private debt, and a highly inefficient tax system.

The steps that have been ordered so far in Washington have done nothing more than put the brakes on the runaway decline. They have not spurred new growth.

I’m not so sure that the tax system has anything to do with anything, but if America solves the problem of “high and persistent unemployment,” it’s likely to be via the solving of the problem of “lagging investments.” Debts, of course, will take care of themselves once the other two problems are taken care of.

So what’s the problem with more stimulus? That second paragraph sure reads an awful lot to me like there simply wasn’t enough of it. To the extent that stimulus was tried, it certainly did indeed work. So why doesn’t Broder simply suggest that Republicans are the bad guys here and that Obama needs to step over them in order to fix the economy?  Because that would tramp all over the beloved conventional “wisdom” that all problems stem from a lack of bipartisanship. According to Broder and his “Villager” friends, he simply can’t blame one side for any problem and the thought of stepping over an obstructionist political party would promptly cause him to retire to the fainting couch.

Hmm, what to do? What to do? A-ha! That’s the answer! War wih Iran! The fact that the US is:

already involved in two wars, have been for close to an entire decade, and during that time have had the lowest economic growth since WWII.

is just one of those…well…annoying problems…that just…tsk…just gets in the way a lot.

What if the US were to start a war with Iran? As the “Baghdad has WMDs” skeptic back before the Iraq War began, Scott Ritter, pointed out back in 2006 that attacking Iran is an absolutely insane idea. It would resemble the Athenian attack on Syracuse in that it would probably result in the annihilation of our army in Iraq.  The Guardian examines Iran’s military, anti-US role in Iraq. Relatively little has happened so far, but it’s pretty clear that Iran could do a heck of a lot worse to US forces there. So no, Broder has not managed to “square the circle” or to find that edible bowl of porridge that’s of course, always in the middle. To suggest attacking Iran demonstrates a mindless bloodlust that would reveal savagery, but is probably more indicative of a very sheltered and privileged life.

In either event, Broder is not the slightest bit concerned about the millions of casualties that would result. Nor, interestingly, does Broder show the slightest concern over his previous, very-strongly-expressed desire for a balanced budget. To suggest a war with Iran as a way to get the economy moving again is to show that Broder thinks Keynes was right. Of course, getting stimulus into the economy via military spending would be an effective strategy, but

If spending on war can provide jobs and lift the economy then so can spending on roads, weatherizing homes, or educating our kids.

Stimulus is stimulus, no matter how it’s delivered. Is military spending a good stimulus? Not really. With US military contractors already busy, it’s far from clear that opening up yet another front would improve the economy at all. There’s also the problem that the US doesn’t particularly want to re-start the draft, but counter-recruitment efforts are doing well and there’s also no strong desire for regular citizens to sign up for a tour of duty in that area of the world. About the only strong incentive for young people to sign up for the military is the cruddy job market. If that ever improves, there’s simply nothing in American culture that suggests an urge to run around the globe improving everybody elses’ societies.

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