Friday, November 05, 2004


Relentless march of the "I told you so's"

I like this from Matthew Yglesias:

Daniel Gross feels it:
In decades past, increasing Republican dominance of the House and Senate would have meant more fiscal discipline. But Republicans increasingly dominate the states that are net drains on Federal taxes—the Southern and Great Plains states—while fading in the coastal states that produce a disproportionate share of federal revenue. (It's Republicans, not Democrats, who are sucking on the federal teat.) What Amity Shlaes quaintly identified in today's Financial Times as the "southern culture of tax cutting" has been married to the southern culture of failing to generate wealth and the southern culture of depending on federal largesse. The offspring is an unsightly deficit monster.
The joy of it being so far from the next election is that one can feel free to say what one means without undue worry about its electoral consequences. I wouldn't advise politicians to start talking like this, but for liberal journalists it's gonna be eighteen sweet months of elitist Dixie-bashing. Or at least it should be.
As I've written earlier, little in life feels as good as being able to say, "I told you so." To know that you were right and the other person was wrong. To know that if he had only listened to you, disaster would have been averted.

Almost as sweet is the freedom to say any damn thing you want because it doesn't matter, nobody's listening, and you have no responsibility to actually do anything other than talk. You can blather on and on, spout pipedreams and moonbeams, go out on a limb, go crazy - who cares?

Democrats and progressives are in the latter position now, and probably will be in the former position within a year or two. There is a seductiveness to this kind of freedom, this vengeful certainty that we are going to be proven to have been right all along, that can be so powerful as to swamp any other outlook on politics.

What we should be doing is using our time in exile, in the wilderness, to plan and build. To face the future unblinkingly, to figure out what really needs to be done in this country, and to start putting together a realistic, workable coalition that can gain the power needed to do it. It may take time, it may be arduous, but it's the only way out of the desert.

Yes, it's sweet to be free to say anything you want, and sweet to be able to say, I told you so.

But it's far sweeter to win.

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