As part of a continuing series of book reviews on The Washington Post's "Federal Page," Post reporter Jonathan Weisman reviewed a new book Tuesday by former Clinton aides Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Reed, headlined "A Political Blueprint With Room to Build On." Predictably, Weisman found it not boldly liberal enough -- even if he doesn't describe it exactly that way. But he found a new way of dividing conservatives and liberals. Conservatives do "not believe in government intervention," while liberals are those "those who agree that government is a necessary part of society."
Maybe it's not a good idea to let your "objective" reporters state their general agreement with Democratic Party manifestoes, but the Washington Post doesn't see the danger. Weisman gently chides the Clintonistas for calling the massive new prescription-drug subsidy for seniors hack work, suggesting it's not generous enough and doesn't let the government manipulate drug prices: "true enough," Weisman suggested, but:
The better case Emanuel and Reed make is this: The United States faces problems of immense magnitude: global warming; nearly 47 million people without health insurance; a retiring generation of baby boomers without enough savings -- and with enough numbers to bankrupt the Medicare and Social Security systems. A party that does not believe in government intervention may be philosophically incapable of confronting such ills.
But Weisman thinks the "New Democrats" here aren't boldly liberal enough in the face of "congressional inactivity." If measured by the trillions of dollars the federal government spends, that's a strange phrase, but liberals always want more Rooseveltian "persistent experimentation" with our tax dollars:
Compared with the congressional inactivity of the past few years, Emanuel and Reed's Eight-Point Plan may seem ambitious, but it does not measure up to the tasks at hand, as identified by the authors themselves.
To those who agree that government is a necessary part of society, none of these ideas are bad. They certainly cannot be dismissed as political pie in the sky. But "The Plan" reads more like a blueprint for a narrow Democratic majority looking for legislative beachheads before the 2008 election than what the book says it is: "A map to the challenges of a new era."
As a title for liberals, "those who agree that government is a necessary part of society" is a pretty deficient label. Obviously, conservatives believe government is necessary for the rule of law and the common defense. In today's federal government, the conservatives are the ones who are boldly trying to keep the growth rate of government spending down to the rate of population growth, or the rise in the cost of living. That's hardly "pie in the sky" anarchism.
PS: The Post reporter/book reviewer pieces have displayed a different tone for anti-Clinton books.