Rarely have I seen a more unpatriotic public display.
Here’s why I find it impossible to be a Republican: any crowd that instantly cheers the execution of 234 individuals is a crowd I want to flee, not join.
None of this is to say Brown would win in 2012, or that a Brown bid is the best option for the Republican Party. His candidacy would still be crippled (and perhaps killed) by apathy or even outright hostility among the GOP’s evangelical base, and it’s hard to imagine his mentor, Mitt Romney, simply stepping aside. But the alternatives are not particularly attractive: six years in the Senate or four years in the wilderness; familiarity breeding contempt or absence leading to obsolescence; a more crowded, talented field in 2016, either way. On the other hand, if Brown runs for the presidency in 2012 and loses—the likely outcome for anyone vying against an incumbent—he will immediately become the GOP’s “next in line.” He could run for governor, or, if he falls short in the Republican primaries, for vice president. Ultimately my point is that, despite the understandable urge to dismiss all this absurdly premature speculation, Scott Brown’s running for president in 2012 might wind up being the best available option for Scott Brown.
It’s virtually impossible to find an elected Republican official who can speak intelligently and accurately about budget issues. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is supposed to be a comer in national politics, but his piece in the inaugural issue of the Daily Caller was a howler. (Budget analyst Stan Collender smacked him down for arguing that a $1.4 trillion deficit could be narrowed primarily by reducing “discretionary spending in real terms, with exceptions for key programs such as military, veterans, and public safety”) Columnist David Brooks recently tried to elevate South Dakota Senator John Thune into a serious thinker about fiscal issues. “He doesn’t have radical plans to cut the federal leviathan. He just wants to restrain the growth of government to bring deficits down.” In fact, Thune, like his colleagues, has no plans to cut the federal leviathan or bring deficits down. When I called his office in December to ask if Sen. Thune had ever laid out any specific combination of spending cuts and revenues enhancers that could reduce the deficit, the answer was a polite, genial no. Last summer, at a dinner with a group of conservatives where I heard frequent complaints about $9 trillion in deficits over the coming years, I asked the assembled if they could come up with budget cuts and/or tax increases that would cut $900 billion from the projected deficits - one-tenth of the total. The response: silence.
Irresponsibility is one of the perks of being in the minority. You don’t have to pass anything, or govern. But there are limits. If you’re for tax cuts and you’re against cutting spending on Medicare and defense, you shouldn’t be able to call yourself a deficit hawk. And if your reaction to the biggest financial crisis and the deepest recession since the Great Depression was to refuse to be party to the rescue efforts, you shouldn’t be taken seriously as a policy thinker.