Frank Bruni Has Alzheimer’s Disease

It’s quite sad, actually:

Rare is the Democrat of plausible national ambition who tangles in a tough, meaningful way with labor unions or environmentalists, groups that President Obama has been loath to cross. Disappointing them jeopardizes the campaign infantry and financial contributions they provide, and as the sway of interest groups rises, the fealty of politicians to the ones in their corner grows with it.

Rare is the Republican of plausible national ambition who doesn’t kowtow to religious conservatives, a spectacle on florid display during the Republican primaries…

Remember how President Obama kowtowed to environmentalists on those ozone regulations?  He just did whatever the Sierra Club told him to.  And he also told the Supreme Court to uphold the Second Circuit on the climate change public nuisance litigation.  Oh, and labor, too: that Race to the Top could practically have been written by the NEA!

Then there’s Evan Bayh’s championing of the elimination of the estate tax: why didn’t he just stamp a hammer-and-sickle on his forehead? You no doubt also remember how Kent Conrad, Max Baucus, and Ben Nelson completely prostrated themselves in front of Democratic constituencies.  It’s abject!

Of course, Bruni might defend himself by saying that he is only referring to politicians of “plausible national ambition.”  Absolutely!  You remember how courageous George Voinovich, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins were in advocating for the Affordable Care Act, don’t you?

What does Bruni get paid for, again?

Why Does Matt Bai Have a Job?

Matt Bai thinks that Social Security is in trouble because he can’t tell the difference between playing the lottery and owning Treasury Bills. He’s an easy mark for spin doctors.

Obviously not for understanding policy.  In a typically snide and vacuous piece yesterday, he rehearses the typically snide and vacuous Beltway Insider conventional wisdom that Social Security Is In Serious Trouble, criticizing those trying protect the program for being insufficiently bipartisan.  Then he dismisses their arguments that the system is solvent:

The coalition bases its case on the idea that Social Security is actually in fine fiscal shape, since it has amassed a pile of Treasury Bills — often referred to as i.o.u.’s — in a dedicated trust fund. This is true enough, except that the only way for the government to actually make good on these i.o.u.’s is to issue mountains of new debt or to take the money from elsewhere in the federal budget, or perhaps impose significant tax increases — none of which seem like especially practical options for the long term. So this is sort of like saying that you’re rich because your friend has promised to give you 10 million bucks just as soon as he wins the lottery.

Uh, no.  I’m not an economist.  I don’t pretend to have macroeconomic expertise, although those who do have it have not really shown that macroeconomics is anything more than shamanism.  But even I know the difference between winning the lottery and holding Treasury Bills, perhaps the safest form of investment known to humanity at present.  The Chinese have over $1 trillion worth of T-bills — are they counting on winning the lottery?  So do all the big banks — mostly with TARP money.  Are they playing, too?  There’s a reason why T-bills have a low interest rate: the market thinks that they are a very good risk.  If Bai wants to argue that the market makes no sense and is underpricing the risk, then he should make that argument.  But then he’d have to know something.

Bai doesn’t have a hidden agenda: he just can’t be bothered with actually learning anything about what he writes.  So he’s an easy mark for someone trying to spin him.  And boy did he get spun here.

Oh, and incidentally: Treasury Bills are not “often referred to as i.o.u.s”.  They’re often referred to as, well, Treasury Bills.

Halperin Award Nominee

Matt Bai gives Mark Halperin a run for the most vacuous and insipid political writer working nowadays.

I was going to write a post on the insipidness, vacuity, falsity, and ahistoricism of Matt Bai’s moronic Page One piece in the New York Times today, but Mark Schmitt beat me to it, so just read it yourself.

Sullivan seems to get a lot of mileage out of his awards, so we’ll start one here: the Halperin goes to, well, vacuous, insipid, false, and ahistorical press coverage by major MSM figures.  Nominate away.