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Category — Just One Thing

The Pathology of the Politician. Matthew Parris Explains It All.

Anthony Weiner, John Edwards, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and who knows who else as another week begins.  Are we governed by loons? How do these men rise in politics?  What drives them?

British columnist and former MP Matthew Parris deconstructed the type last month in this essential piece for The Spectator.  It’s written in the British political idiom but applies to the gladiators tussling with one another in every democracy.  Lobbyists and staff members, print it and put affix it to your desk or the back of your iPad.

Here are some samples of Parris’s wisdom:

Politicians are not normal people. They are weird. It isn’t politics that has made them weird: it’s their weirdness that has impelled them into politics.

On the whole, by and large, and with any number of exceptions, individuals drawn to elective office are driven men and women: dreamers, attention-seekers and risk-takers with a dollop of narcissism in their natures.

As I’ve so often written, elective office feeds your vanity and starves your self-respect.

If you read just one thing today, let it be this short essay that Freud could not have improved.

June 6, 2011   Comments Off

Just One Thing.

If you read just one thing today, it ought to be Michael Kinsley’s column on the madness of film industry tax credits and other generous subsidies.  Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson sounds like Professor Harold Hill in his explanation of the economic benefits that accompany the lavishing of taxpayer-financed emoluments on Hollywood moguls.  

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy’s budget clips the wings of local high-flyers with visions of close-ups dancing in their heads. About time.

March 2, 2011   Comments Off

Just One Thing for October 29th.

Syndicated columnist Mona Charen reminds Republicans that voters are voting against Democrats more than for Republicans, and the winners need to let that knowledge guide them as they head into the future.  She makes sense.  Voters know what they don’t want, a sluggish economy and high unemployment, but satisfying them will be a challenge.

October 29, 2010   2 Comments

Just One Thing for October 18th.

There’s a lot of politics about as we are two weeks from the finish line.  Nevertheless, there ought to be some time for serious public policy issues.  The Economist provides a look at the looming crisis that will confront governors across the legislation: public pensions.  Our political leaders have been delusional in their creation and handling of this time bomb.  It’s worth reading.

October 18, 2010   2 Comments

Just One Thing for August 8th.

You couldn’t blame a voter for being cross-eyed and woozy from paying some attention to the race for the Republican nomination for attorney general.  The 2010 edition of Martha Dean is very different from the version that ran for attorney general 8 years ago.  She’s made some reckless charges against her opponent, Ross Garber, (he’s not a mob lawyer) since the May convention, so she invited a counterattack.

Garber, who tries to present himself as the serious-minded candidate in the contest, has burst the bounds of credibility with his claims that Dean wants to open some spigots and let heroin and cocaine flow.

If you read just one thing about the race, it should be the Journal Inquirer’s Chris Powell on Garber’s campaign and broader record.  The essential point:

Garber well may be as clever a lawyer as Dean but he earned his renown entirely as office counsel for Gov. John G. Rowland in 2004, when Garber strove to contrive excuses for kickbacks, to impede the General Assembly’s impeachment investigation, and generally to prevent the public from learning about its own business. Garber’s work was not a matter of criminal charges, against which everyone is constitutionally entitled to a vigorous defense. Rather, it was a civil and political matter, a matter of open government, with Garber doing his best to defeat open government.

August 8, 2010   13 Comments

If You Read Just One Thing Today

Neil Newhouse and Glen Bolger explain it all to us in Sunday’s Washington Post.  While the piece is based on their experience polling for two recently successful Republican campaigns, McDonnell in Virginia and Brown in Massachusetts, it strikes me that some Democrats might prosper by adopting pieces of the strategy.  None of it will work without checking the first box:  You must have quality candidates.  Republicans don’t hold the patent on those.

Between now and November, plenty of Republican hopefuls will reveal themselves as hopeless as a Coakley.

We’ve seen dramatic shifts in the popularity of parties and presidents in the last few decades.  Something different that Bolger and Newhouse suggest is that negative advertising may be diminishing as a tool of political discourse and persuasion.  What will campaigns do with all those grainy photos of opponents they’ve collected?  Who will employ the menacing voice talent?

UPDATE: Neil Newhouse says in an email that negative advertising still works, but not if it’s perceived as “desperate.”

January 25, 2010   Comments Off

If You Read Just One Thing Today

Christopher Hitchens can get on one’s nerves, but he does entertain when he’s locked and loaded.  In this month’s Vanity Fair, he gives Gore Vidal his due and then dissects his craziness.  It’s worth reading for this sentence:

Who but Gore could begin a discussion by saying that the three most dispiriting words in the English language were “Joyce Carol Oates”?

January 18, 2010   1 Comment