Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The hype is hype

We were warned about 2,500 years ago that democratic self-government does not work because ordinary people have not learned how to run the ship of state. And then we tried all the other forms and they were problematic.

Fast forward to the New Hampshire primary. Brett Stephens in this morning's WSJ writes about all the silly stuff coming out of the mouths of candidates and pundits (excerpted below).

Along these lines, Peter Orszag shares his Congressional testimony re income voltaility. It has not worsened. The hype is hype.

Barack Obama, still fresh from his victory in Iowa last week
and confident of another in New Hampshire tonight, has as his signature campaign
theme the promise to "end the division" in America. Notice the irony: The scale
of his Iowa victory, in a state that's 94% white, is perhaps the clearest
indication so far that the division Mr. Obama promises to end has largely been
put to rest.

Meanwhile, in Kenya last week a mob surrounded a church in
which, according to an Associated Press report, "hundreds of terrified people
had taken refuge." The church was put to flame, while the mob used machetes,
Hutu-style, to hack to death whoever tried to escape. The killers in this case
were of the Luo tribe, their victims were of the Kikuyu, and the issue over
which they are bleeding is their own presidential election.

When foreigners assail Americans for being naïve, it is often
on account of contrasts like these. A nation in which the poor are defined by an
income level that in most countries would make them prosperous is a nation that
has all but forgotten the true meaning of poverty. A nation in which obesity is
largely a problem of the poor (and anorexia of the upper-middle class) does not
understand the word "hunger." A nation in which the most celebrated recent cases
of racism, at Duke University or in Jena, La., are wholly or mostly contrived is
not a racist nation. A nation in which our "division" is defined by the vitriol
of Ann Coulter or James Carville is not a truly divided one -- at least while
Mr. Carville is married to Republican operative Mary Matalin and

Ms. Coulter is romantically linked with New York City Democrat
Andrew Stein.