Notes from the Racine Tea PartyAn Interview with Jonah Goldberg

Wisconsin residents fed up with high taxes, massive government debt and massive government spending braved the potential rain Saturday afternoon in Racine for a Tea Party Rally. The event, co-sponsored by the Racine Tea party and Americans for Prosperity, was also to commemorate the events of September 11. Over 3,200 people were in attendance.

The keynote speaker of the afternoon was Jonah Goldberg, the author of Liberal Fascism, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and editor-at-large for National Review Online. Prior to the event, Goldberg spoke about the latest proposed stimulus, the Tea Party movement,

When Goldberg was asked if President Obama’s response to political trouble was to propose more spending, Goldberg said,

“Well, I think you have it right.  He is one of these sort-of talking dolls. You pull the string in his back and he proposes spending, another $10 or $50 or $100 billion in stimulus money um and the problem now is that there is no chance of him actually getting that money.  It’s surely a theatrical symbolic thing, not an actual serious proposal.

“It takes an almost addictive personality disorder of Keynesian economics that the solution is always another fix. This time if I inject it, I’ll achieve bliss and everything will be great.”

Goldberg added that not only are things worse, but if another stimulus was what the economy needed then the markets would respond with enthusiasm. “Yet there is no sense that the markets or the business community want more stimulus except for those businesses that would directly get a hand out from government.”

As it was a Tea Party event, Goldberg was asked about the Tea Party, the role of populism currently in politics, and whether or not it was for the good.  Goldberg said it depends on what direction populism takes. Returning to a theme from a recent Goldberg File, Goldberg compared populism to a chainsaw. It could either be used for good, like saving a puppy from a car, or not so good, like taking care of a baby.

About the Tea Parties, Goldberg said he liked them because, “They are focused, aiming in the right direction.” He added that he liked them because they haven’t allowed themselves to be hijacked.  “Remember what happened to the Reform Party,” he said.

Goldberg said the party was hijacked after Perot left because of the money leftover from federal campaign money given to them by the Federal Election Commission. With Perot absent, it was like “the Star Wars cantina scene,” with Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan and others trying to get their hands on the money. He said, “This is really an example of distortion by the federal government.”

Goldberg wrote in his newspaper column for Friday, “At best, the Democrats bet badly on the business cycle. They expected the economy to recover quickly, as it usually does, and when it did they would credit their policies.”

When asked about this statement before the rally, Goldberg said, “In 1992, the top-tier Democrats didn’t run because they thought the recession would be longer.” Those Democrats were afraid the recession would last and they would get blamed for it. Clinton bet on the recession being relatively shallow like most recessions of the post-World War II era, and he was able to credit for the economic recovery even thought he didn’t do anything.

“Lobbyists in Washington D.C. have an expression, “ Goldberg said. “When it rains, dance.” If someone sees the dancing, then you can claim credit for the rain.

President Obama, on the other hand, bet on the recession being a shallow one, not taking into account that this recession was more of a financial recession rather than an inventory and demand recession. Goldberg said Obama must have believed he was going to benefit from the normal business cycle, or, “He wouldn’t have done something so stupid as `Recovery Summer.’”

As popular as Jonah Goldberg was with the crowd at the rally, he was just as popular in the “green room” trailer before the rally. Throughout the interview the discussion in the background was who read Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism and who gave Goldberg’s book as a gift. As I exited the trailer, Congressman Paul Ryan asked, “Have you read Jonah’s book?”

High praise from the man Goldberg called, “the best congressman in America.”

By James Wigderson
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