Reading this piece, linked to by Instapundit today, we see that politics in the USA, and in fact everywhere, is a trialogue rather than a dialogue. All parties to the trialogue (definitely including me) believe that the other two camps are wrong, and many in each camp believe that the other two camps are actually one camp.
The three camps are:
Camp 1: Capitalism is fine, so long as the government stays in charge of it and does a few more of the right things and a few less of the wrong things. The mixed economy is fine, if only we can just mix it right, and meanwhile preserve confidence that all will be well. No need for radical change. Trust us. No, we’re not convinced that’ll work either. Camp 1 is very powerful, very clever, very unwise. For now.
Camp 2: Capitalism is an evil mess. This crisis was caused by capitalism – naked, unregulated, unrestrained – being let loose by neo-liberal fanatics. What should be a poodle has become a wolf. Do whatever it takes to make capitalism a poodle again. Yeah, yeah, we need a bit of capitalism, to make stuff, but not nearly as much as we’ve been having lately. Anyone who gets in the way … boo! We hate you! No, we don’t think that’ll really work either, even if the people were willing to give it a go. They won’t, so boo! And if they did, it would fail horribly, and we’d have to blame capitalism even more. So … boooooo. Camp 2 is very stupid, but horribly numerous.
Camp 3: Capitalism would be great, but what we’ve had has not been capitalism – unregulated, unrestrained, as hoped for by us neo-liberal fanatics – but capitalism mixed with statism in a truly horrible way. What we’ve seen in the last few decades has been crony capitalism, capitalism with politicians in its pocket, so that whenever a big chunk of capitalism looks like failing, most notably a big bank, the politicians squirt more money at it. Which ain’t proper capitalism. Meanwhile, capitalism even of the crony sort makes better stuff. Capitalism, the real thing, should also be allowed to make better money, the kind that is allowed to fail if it does fail. The adjustment process will be horrific. No, we’re not sure that will work either. If we could do it, it would work great. But will we ever be allowed to do it? Camp 3 is right. But maybe not numerous enough or clever enough (maybe not wise enough) to win, and prove itself right. Like all such glib divisions of reality into this, this, and this, this is an oversimplification. Many swither from one camp to another, and quite a few, I surmise, find themselves in all three camps in one day, depending only on their mood and on the last thing they read. Those who do know which camp they’re in still swither about which of the other two is more stupid and more evil, and therefore how to handle the other two. Try to smash them both? Or join with the less worst to smash the most worst, and then win the victorious coalition spat with the less worst? But if the latter, which is the less worst and which the most worst? Or maybe combine with the most worst against the less worst, because that might work better? Pardon my grammar but these are grammar-straining times.
President Obama, as described in the piece linked to above, is a classic Camp 2-er, who is using Camp 1 to try to contrive a victory for Camp 2 which he could not contrive if he merely did Camp 2 stuff over and over again. Camp 1 uses Camp 2 all the time, and no doubt still reckons that it is using Camp 2 man Obama. It may well be right.
My inclination is to shout as loud as I can for my camp, Camp 3, and bugger the other two. They are both wrong, and will both fail. Camp 1 is creating a catastrophe, which it has no idea how to even stop creating let alone clean up after. Camp 2 is catastrophe pure and simple. But, catastrophically, it may well soon combine more publicly with Camp 1 to ruin everything and keep it ruined.
Camp 3 is the right one. It has to win. How it can win, I don’t fully understand. But we have to contrive that. My method for contriving victory will be to shout as loud as I can that Camp 3 is right right right. Luckily, others in Camp 3 are cleverer and more subtle than me. They are good Obamas, you might say, adept at using Camps 1 and 2 to contrive steps in the right direction for Camp 3. But are my righteous Obamas numerous enough and cunning enough? It doesn’t now feel like it. But maybe they may yet prevail.