How Fareed Zakaria became the most conservative liberal of all time
MACKINAC ISLAND -- Conventional wisdom would likely hold that Time Editor and CNN Fareed Zakaria, who spoke this evening at the Mackinac Policy Conference, is a political liberal. Given the nature of the American political landscape, that’s a reasonable conclusion.
The problem, though, is Zakaria’s political worldview is remarkably conservative.
On hot-button issues, say the expiration of Bush tax cuts, he’s sides with the liberal consensus that Congress should let them expire. But when he expands on tax policy, Zakaria’s blueprint for reform resembles Ronald Reagan’s great legislative accomplishment, the Tax Reform Act of 1986.
“If we could get rid of some the popular deductions, and in that context then maybe we don’t have to raise the rates that much,” Zakaria told the Mackinac crowd.
He also championed entitlement reform, something that has stymied several Republican presidents in the way that health care reform long stymied Democrats.
I don’t know if Zakaria’s liberal reputation is a testament to the right’s genius or insanity.
Like Tom Sawyer, they’ve gotten someone else to paint their fence. Overton Window and all of that.
The problem, now that the tea party inmates are running the asylum, is once they get the other side to advocate their objectives, they can no longer support traditionally conservative ideas and still survive a primary fight. Just ask Indiana’s Dick Lugar or Utah’s Bob Bennett.
In the short-run, this makes good business sense for the right. Even when you lose, you win. In the long-run, we’re all dead, right?
Yeah, well, time was conservatives understood that in the long-run someone was still alive to deal with the consequences of short-sighted, short-term policies.
Today, that someone are the post-Baby Boomer generations who will be left with debt, crumbling infrastructure, and the cost of entitlement programs benefiting the 55+ set. Those entitlements treated as sacrosanct by supposed reformers like the GOP’s Paul Ryan. Bro, the folks under the age of 55 aren’t the ones demographically capable of bankrupting the system.
An even bigger problem for the right is what to do if, say, Mitt Romney wins the November election. Could Romney enact a Reagan-like 1986 tax reform? Over Grover Norquist’s dead body, and the dead bodies of Congressmen who’ve pledge their loyalty to Norquist above all else.
Crumbling infrastructure will continue to crumble because the shoutiest voices on the right dream of the days when we had muddy paths designed for mule carts—just like our Founding Fathers’ had!
And Romney better keep his dirty socialist hands off GOP seniors’ Medicare if he knows what’s good for him, so entitlement reform will be as likely as Martian visitors.
If the right talked like Fareed Zakaria (and the right of yesteryear), this Obama voter (and probably millions of younger Americans) would be solidly in their corner. As the right is presently constituted? No way in hell.
In the long-run, you know who ends up dead? The American political right. Those increasingly conservative Baby Boomers can only hang around for so long.