October 8, 2012

E.J. Dionne asks "Does our presidential campaign lack a moral core?"

He purports to delve into the debate:
However you analyze it in electoral terms, the exchange between President Obama and Mitt Romney was most striking as a festival of technocratic mush — dueling studies mashed in with competing statistics. In many ways, the encounter offered voters the worst of all worlds: a great deal of indecipherable wonkery and remarkably little clarity about where each would lead the country.
However you analyze it? Well, I don't even have to check the debate transcript to remember a striking use of the word "moral." Let me get the exact quote from the transcript. Jim Lehrer had just asked "what are the differences between the two of you as to how you would go about tackling the deficit problem in this country?" And Mitt Romney said:
Good. I'm glad you raised that, and it's a -- it's a critical issue. I think it's not just an economic issue, I think it's a moral issue. I think it's, frankly, not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation and they're going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives. And the amount of debt we're adding, at a trillion a year, is simply not moral.
But Dionne would like you to think of the debate is just a big indecipherable mush. And then the whole rest of his column is about — can you guess? — Nuns on the Bus! Because who's better than nuns "to remind us that our decisions in November have ethical consequences?" I'd say Mitt Romney was better, in his utterly clear statement quoted above, which is in no way "technocratic mush" or "insufferable wonkery," Mr. Dionne. But... hey! Look! Nuns! Nunnnnzzzz!

60 comments:

Jay said...

dueling studies mashed in with competing statistics

Except there were no "dueling studies" at all.

There were lies told by Obama, in that regard.

cubanbob said...

Typical prog. All is defensible in the service of the revolutionary.

Tim said...

Dionne writes:

"Who better than a group of women who have consecrated their lives to the Almighty to remind us that our decisions in November have ethical consequences? Those who serve the impoverished, the sick and the dying know rather a lot about what matters — in life, and in elections."

Dear God, I smell the hypocrisy here.

If these nuns were riding a bus against abortion, Dionne wouldn't be writing about any moral issues in the campaign.

Otherwise, just the usual blather from the media, carrying water for their failed, affirmative action president.

AprilApple said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AprilApple said...

EJ Dionne, like Paul Krugman, is a democrat leftwing hack. Both should be laughed off the stage.

AF said...

"I think it's not just an economic issue, I think it's a moral issue. I think it's, frankly, not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation . . . "

And Mitt's courageously responding to this moral issue by putting forth specific proposals for tax increases and spending cuts. No, wait . . . .

Irene said...

Nuns on the bus = Big Bird for older people who don't use Facebook.

Jay said...

AF said...


And Mitt's courageously responding to this moral issue by putting forth specific proposals for tax increases and spending cuts. No, wait . . . .


Repealing obamacare is a spending cut, idiot.

Carol said...

"Moral" always means "GIVE MORE OF YOUR MONEY TO THE POOR!!! and we are here to help..."

The Crack Emcee said...

Ooooh, E.J. Dionne:

Talk about boxing down,...

Robert Cook said...

Romney making the rhetorical assertion that it's "not moral" to keep overspending, etc., etc., does not provide any "moral dimension" to the debate--assuming for argument's sake such is necessary--but is merely theatrical, and a precursor to justifying the eventual slashing of Social Security and Medicare benefits as "moral" necessities.

If he really wants to be "moral," he (and Obama) should talk about immediately shutting down our various wars abroad and drastically slashing the budget for our War Department. That way, they're saving real money and stopping our killing and maiming of people in other countries.

chrisnavin.com said...

Pretty much most of what Dionne says is in service of the Party, and occasionally there are broader principles, but they're progressive, and usually end up in service of the Party.

If Obama has a strong week, Dionne will back off the "indecipherable mush" and probably pick up the "why are Republicans so out of touch" trope.

Hackery.

chrisnavin.com said...

Robert Cook, thank you for coming to the Louisa May Alcott Gymnasium and sharing your socialist ideas!

edutcher said...

Lefties are afraid of all things scientific, so EJ, an old Commie, disdains the Romster's analytical approach.

Irene said...

Nuns on the bus

Sounds like a movie with either Rosalind Russell or Whoopi Goldberg.

Jay said...

How pathetic is this guy?

Mr. Obama does not like debates to begin with, aides have long said, viewing them as media-driven gamesmanship. He did not do all that well in 2008 but benefited from Senator John McCain’s grumpy performances. Mr. Obama made clear to advisers that he was not happy about debating Mr. Romney, whom he views with disdain. It was something to endure, rather than an opportunity, aides said

America's Politico said...

EJ is on our WH payroll. He gets WashPost payroll too, and he is also gets from Georgetown and GWU. We pay our reporter-friend very much.

EJ will have personal access to the WH in the 2nd term.

We re-pay our friends, big time. Unlike Romney, who only tax you.

EDH said...

I've always thought Romney should make the moral case for lower tax rates.

Horizontal equity.

Lower rewards for avoidance and evasion.

Lower rewards for legislative favoritism.

Increased work incentives.

rehajm said...

To a certain extent he's right about wonkish- with tax policy there's a big argument over Static vs. Dynamic scoring of tax proposals, for example. Romney can argue that Obama and the CBO are Luddites for continuing to use static methods when just about everyone who is anyone in economics knows dynamic analysis is the way to go. And Obama can continue to call Romney a liar.

ricpic said...

Dionne of course sees nothing immoral in robbing Peter to pay Paul.

virgil xenophon said...

Nuns take the bus? And here I thought all along that they flew!

EDH said...

The Obama economic policy and race-baiting all in one movie scene, priceless.

AF said...

"Repealing obamacare is a spending cut, idiot."

Not according to the CBO -- or to Mitt Romney for that matter. His complaint about Obamacare is that it cuts spending on Medicare. Mitt wants to roll back $700 billion in cuts to Medicare. To offset this he promises to cut . . . Big Bird. Then he calls balancing the budget a moral issue. The man brings craven hypocrisy to new heights. Nine months ago, the right-wing knew this. Now you all pretend not to.

Seeing Red said...

Where's the morality in killing Americans, Cookie? They stop, we stop.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Does our presidential campaign lack a moral core?

No, but our press does. ( Although I see how someone could mistake our press for a presidential campaign. )

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I don't pay much attention to the "indecipherable wonkery" and I don't think most people do. Neither candidate labors under much illusion that his "plans" will come to fruition, given the vicissitudes of life, and Congress. All their planning can do is to illustrate a direction they will try to take.

What mattered in this debate is the difference in manner of the two men. It is more a question of body language than tax initiatives. Pundits can argue the relative merits of the candidates' positions-- it's their job. However pundits are a very small voting bloc. Viewers saw a confident, optimistic Romney and a passionless, defensive Obama. This is what changes votes.

To address Althouse's point about Romney's injection of (gasp!) morality into the debate, I think this goes a long way to explain Romney's confidence. When you argue from moral principles instead of from political expediency, you tend to be surer of yourself and your positions. Obama can't counter this merely by dumping John Kerry as a practice opponent.

Seeing Red said...

Big Bird's admitted Big Bird doesn't need a subsidy.

Ann Althouse said...

"Romney making the rhetorical assertion that it's "not moral" to keep overspending, etc., etc., does not provide any "moral dimension" to the debate--assuming for argument's sake such is necessary--but is merely theatrical...."

And the Nuns on the Bus... that's not theater? What's more theatrical than a bunch of nuns traveling around delivering a pop moral message.

How many Broadway shows with nuns? There's "Sister Act"... "Nunsense"... and don't forget "The Sound of Music"...

When nuns break out into pop culture... look out! The only one who can save us is [strike]Jesus Christ[/strike] Elvis Presley.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Ann Althouse said...

When nuns break out into pop culture... look out!


Don't forget Lillies of the Field.

PatCA said...

He's looking for passion for "the purposes of government"?

Why doesn't he check our founding documents. Those purposes are very clearly stated therein.

Jay said...

AF said...
Mitt wants to roll back $700 billion in cuts to Medicare. To offset this he promises to cut . . . Big Bird.


Hysterical bullshit.

Note:

The latest CBO scoring of Obamacare, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding the overhaul’s individual mandate as an allowable (although seemingly unprecedented) tax on inactivity, shows that President Obama’s centerpiece legislation would cost about $2 trillion over its real first decade (2014 through 2023).


You can't post here without lying.

Larry J said...

I think it's, frankly, not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation and they're going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives.

This is economic pedophilia. We're screwing future generations to buy votes today. Both parties are complicit in this but lately, the Democrats are far worse. Over $4 trillion has been added to the national debt in the last 4 years. This is unsustainable and obscene. Future generations are going to curse all our names for allowing this to happen.

Rusty said...

Since it embraced the "Great Society" the left has had no moral core.



If E.J. Dionne became a bigger tool I could use him to change a tire.

Rusty said...

AF said...
"Repealing obamacare is a spending cut, idiot."

Not according to the CBO -- or to Mitt Romney for that matter. His complaint about Obamacare is that it cuts spending on Medicare. Mitt wants to roll back $700 billion in cuts to Medicare. To offset this he promises to cut . . . Big Bird. Then he calls balancing the budget a moral issue. The man brings craven hypocrisy to new heights. Nine months ago, the right-wing knew this. Now you all pretend not to.


Sigh.
One more time.

The ACA would take 718 billion from medicare to pay for itself-the ACA. What Romney proposed was not funding the ACA with the 718 billion from Medicare. Keeping the 718 billion in Medicare AND defunding public broadcasting and other complete wastes of taxpayer dollars.
You understan that no matter what he Romney does, or any 0ther president, Medicare cannot continue as funded.
You understand that, right?

AF said...

Jay said: "The latest CBO scoring of Obamacare, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding the overhaul’s individual mandate as an allowable (although seemingly unprecedented) tax on inactivity, shows that President Obama’s centerpiece legislation would cost about $2 trillion over its real first decade (2014 through 2023)."

Those are gross costs, as even the misleading Weekly Standard post you link to makes clear. The net cost is negative, ie, there is a net savings.

Jay: "You can't post here without lying."

I apologize, I must have overlooked that rule, though you are demonstrating it quite vividly.




gadfly said...

So we go from Ann's post on Obama's continued cheating to obtain foreign campaign contributions via the internet to clueless EJ's morality play!

Only the mind of a radical liberal like Dionne could ignore the Alinskyites and the Chicago Way.

AF said...

Rusty:

You are correct. The Medicare cuts in the ACA "pay for itself." That was my point: contra Jay, repealing the ACA would do nothing to balance the budget. .

Sam L. said...

E.J. "Worthless" Dionne and Paullie "The Beard" Krugman. All the confidence of Bill Clinton and none of the what little truth he might let slip out.

Matthew Sablan said...

Some other nuggets from the CBO cost analysis:

"Those gross costs are offset in part by $515 billion in receipts from penalty payments..."

-- Those would be the penalty payments that we were told the IRS would not collect.

"... the new excise tax on high-premium insurance plans, and other budgetary effects (mostly increases in tax revenues stemming from changes in employer-provided insurance coverage)."

-- This assumes that with higher tax rates, current trends in behavior remain exactly the same.

So, even to get the rosy CBO score, you have to willingly ignore things.

"The projected net savings to the federal government resulting from the Supreme Court’s decision arise because the reductions in spending from lower Medicaid enrollment are expected to more than offset the increase in costs from greater participation in the exchanges."

Also: Savings are generated by fewer people having access to Medicaid (in the hopes that the more expensive markets will be able to care for them.)

A real winner there.

gadfly said...

AF said...

Jay said: "The latest CBO scoring of Obamacare, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding the overhaul’s individual mandate as an allowable (although seemingly unprecedented) tax on inactivity, shows that President Obama’s centerpiece legislation would cost about $2 trillion over its real first decade (2014 through 2023)."

Those are gross costs, as even the misleading Weekly Standard post you link to makes clear. The net cost is negative, ie, there is a net savings.


Reading comprehension is important to understanding the case against Obamacare. In your case you obviously did not read or understand the concluding sentence in the WS piece:

Of course, there is another option, one that would preserve Americans’ liberty, prevent this Medicare raid, prevent these tax increases, keep these millions of Americans from losing their employer-sponsored insurance, keep health costs from rising, and save American taxpayers more than $1.930 trillion that would otherwise be spent on Obamacare: Repeal.

BTW, CBO methodology has a near zero score on accuracy in predicting costs regarding long range government social welfare programs. Like all good liberals, ou want to choose only the numbers that you believe make your point, but in the case of Obamacare, the deliberate double counting of the effect of Medicare cuts instantly disqualified CBO numbers.

Matthew Sablan said...

Don't blame the CBO for bad numbers. They are professionals doing their job. They were told to double count that number and did so; their job is to report on what the results would be if what politicians think will happen happens.

Quayle said...

The mush is in E.J.'s head.

Bruce Hayden said...

Don't blame the CBO for bad numbers.

And, similarly, don't blame them for using static analysis - the ludicrous assumption that tax policy does not affect behavior, and, thus, revenues. This, too, has been mandated by Congress.

Strelnikov said...

Dionne has no moral core.

Mike said...

EJ Dionne has no moral core.

Sammy said...

So tried of republicans always being deferential to the hard left liars
Well the MSM purposely puts losers like Noonan and then a "win at all cost" hard left mouth piece, like Krugman.... republican pols and pundits have to grow some and speak to these guys the same way they are spoken to.


Paul Krugman is beyond just a lying mouth piece for the liberal agenda...

Saw him on a show on BBC , Hard Talk in 2009, and the interviewer asked him why he thought more spending was the answer when the US was drowning in debt, remeber this was 2009
... His answer we have to spend , accumulate debt , or how else will the polticans be able to impose a VAT tax , that every European country uses to get billions of dollars from it's citizens, that government spending benefits the econmy and really Americans were actually taxed to little in the last 30 years... "if they aren't forced to". ..that's why he wants the debt to be so high that republicans would be forced to cave to a federal sales tax, remember Bush first , raised taxes because democrats were calling it an unexceptable the deficits at that time.. Deficits of 4% ..... And in Obama's four in office, the deficits haven't been lower then 10% which really is crazy, Grecce and Spain deficts are around 4%.

Peter said...

The only thing I hear is E.J. Dionne's moral preening on behalf of 'progressives."

That is, they're more moral then conservatives because they have good intentions. Whereas Romney's not even talking about intentions so much as coldbloodily analysing the consequences of different policy choices.

Also Implied: It's moral to take someone's earnings for the purpose of distributing them to those in need (or for any sufficiently good cause).

yashu said...

When asked about the purpose of government, Romney was the only one on that stage to say anything about defending and protecting the values enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

n.n said...

not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation and they're going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives

The missing moral dimension. It is the enslavement of the next generation in service of instant gratification dreamed by the current generation.

Actually, it is involuntary exploitation of the current and future generations. Today, we are subject to a covert, progressive and regressive 10% tax which is the effect of the federal government maintaining a 10% of GDP deficit. It not only represents an effective tax on all taxpayers and their enterprises, but it also represents a virtual economy, which will collapse when the debt is withdrawn.

Another problem with redistributive change, is that the process of normalizing involuntary exploitation engenders the progressive corruption of individuals, institutions, and society. Whether it is corporate or individual welfare, both are contributors to corruption. The welfare model should be replaced with a rehabilitation model and removed from government control. A dissociation of risk from individuals and cooperatives has been the principal contributor to progressive (i.e. cultural) corruption.

Fr Martin Fox said...

This whole spectacle--of various leftist Catholics, of a certain age, including some clergy and those in religious life--trying to rerun very tired and trite scripts--is embarrassing.

E.J. Dionne periodically will talk about his faith, admitting he's a throwback "social liberal Catholic" to the 1960s and 70s, and it's just sad. Because it's as if he's been Rip van Winkle, asleep for 40-some years. He (and others) talk about "the old days"--meaning before Vatican II--as if that meant anything for anyone under 60 years of age.

They don't seem to know that their entire model of how to be a socially- and politically-engaged Catholic has failed.

The Democratic party is not a socially-liberal, faith-positive party. There's no room anymore for anyone who is pro-life or pro-marriage. The unions are not what the old themes paint them as being (if they ever were); the government is not a benevolent force--again, if it ever was.

I almost expect him to spout the words, "Humphrey-Hawkins" without a trace of irony. Does he even notice how grey he and those of like mind are getting--and that they are increasingly fighting against people of faith, but alongside people of decidedly no faith?

It is truly amazing to see people reveal how out of touch they are.

I was at a meeting of priests recently, and one of the older priests was astonished to hear younger priests--and laypeople--talk about the hostility of the culture.

He was baffled; he talked about Vatican II and its documents, as if it was still 1965. I pointed to him that we risk losing our hospitals, universities and charities if we don't knuckle under to the contraception mandate, and said, "we're standing in front of the guillotine--that sounds like hostility," he sincerely seemed to consider this a new bit of information.

Fr Martin Fox said...

And, by the way, I don't see the Republican Party as any great friend to Catholics or others of like mind.

The pro-life plank is being weakened and downplayed by Mr. Romney; the more secular, country-club GOPers have always been embarrassed by it; they want abortions legal in case dear Muffy has a difficulty, and also to keep down the "urban" population. The country-club GOPers are quite happy to have a Dutch ship trolling about North Africa offering abortions and (I'm sure) tubal ligations; we must have fewer of those sorts.

The prolife talk was--for most GOPers in office--just talk to gin up the vote every other year.

And too many in the GOP are rather eager to get back to torture--assuming Mr. Obama ever really stopped it.

MadisonMan said...

E. J. Dionne thinks it lacks the moral core that is defined as the one that helps Obama win.

Jake Diamond said...

I think it's, frankly, not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation and they're going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives. And the amount of debt we're adding, at a trillion a year, is simply not moral.

And the solution Mittens proposes is... TAX CUTS! Yipee!

Jake Diamond said...

They don't seem to know that their entire model of how to be a socially- and politically-engaged Catholic has failed.

Wow. It is truly amazing to see people reveal how out of touch they are.

paul a'barge said...

E.J. Dionne is clueless about his own sexuality. How could he not be clueless about the morality of the current Presidential campaign.

Besides, if you want to really see something without a moral core, read Althouse's blog.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Jake:

In what way am I "out of touch" with what it means to be a socially- and politically-engaged Catholic?

Crunchy Frog said...

The pro-life plank is being weakened and downplayed by Mr. Romney; the more secular, country-club GOPers have always been embarrassed by it; they want abortions legal in case dear Muffy has a difficulty, and also to keep down the "urban" population. The country-club GOPers are quite happy to have a Dutch ship trolling about North Africa offering abortions and (I'm sure) tubal ligations; we must have fewer of those sorts.

The solution is to support the Tea Party. They hate the Establishment GOP more than anyone.

Eric Jablow said...

Ann,

You want Nuns? Look at the attack on Ouistreham in The Longest Day. Wait for the 5:25 mark.

By the way, the nuns were a Hollywood invention.

Robert Cook said...

Seeing Red said...
"Where's the morality in killing Americans, Cookie? They stop, we stop."

As the bully says, "Stop making me hit you!"

What Americans have they been killing lately, other than the ones who are over there shooting and bombing them?

There's a movie coming out soon, a remake, RED DAWN, that depicts the heroic story of American young people fighting against an invading army in their town. I guess you would say they're terrorists, fighting against rightful invaders of their country.

Kirk Parker said...

Shorter E. J. Dionne:

Rusty said...

Jake Diamond said...
I think it's, frankly, not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation and they're going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives. And the amount of debt we're adding, at a trillion a year, is simply not moral.

And the solution Mittens proposes is... TAX CUTS! Yipee!


Why yes, tax cuts. If taxes are a disincentive, cutting them will provide an incentive.
To do what?
Create, invest, build.
Really. I've explained this to you before.
It's really basic economics.