George Will said a lot today that’s needed saying about Mike Huckabee and John Edwards.
Here’s some of it, after which I offer a few comments:
[Mike Huckabee] and John Edwards, flaunting their histrionic humility in order to promote their curdled populism, hawked strikingly similar messages in Iowa, encouraging self-pity and economic hypochondria.Will’s closer:
Edwards and Huckabee lament a shrinking middle class. Well.
Economist Stephen Rose, defining the middle class as households with annual incomes between $30,000 and $100,000, says a smaller percentage of Americans are in that category than in 1979 — because the percentage of Americans earning more than $100,000 has doubled, from 12 to 24, while the percentage earning less than $30,000 is unchanged.
"So," Rose says, "the entire 'decline' of the middle class came from people moving up the income ladder." Even as housing values declined in 2007, the net worth of households increased.
Huckabee told heavily subsidized Iowa — Washington's ethanol enthusiasm has farm values and incomes soaring — that Americans striving to rise are "pushed down every time they try by their own government."
Edwards, synthetic candidate of theatrical bitterness on behalf of America's crushed, groaning majority, says the rich have an "iron-fisted grip" on democracy and a "stranglehold" on the economy. Strangely, these fists have imposed a tax code that makes the top 1 percent of earners pay 39 percent of all income tax revenue, the top 5 percent pay 60 percent and the bottom 50 percent only 3 percent.
According to Edwards, the North Carolina of his youth resembled Chechnya today — "I had to fight to survive. I mean really. Literally." Huckabee, a compound of Uriah Heep, Elmer Gantry and Richard Nixon, preens about his humble background: "In my family, 'summer' was never a verb."
Nixon, who maundered about his parents' privations and his wife's cloth coat, followed Lyndon Johnson, another miscast president whose festering resentments and status anxieties colored his conduct of office. Here we go again? […]
Huckabee says that "only one explanation" fits his Iowa success "and it's not a human one. It's the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people." G-d so loves Huckabee's politics that He worked a Midwest miracle on his behalf?
Should someone so delusional control nuclear weapons?
Speaking of delusions, Edwards seems unaware that the world market sets the price of oil. He says a $100-a-barrel price is evidence of — surging demand in India and China? Unrest in Nigeria's oil fields? No, "corporate greed."
That is Edwards's explanation of every unpleasantness. […]
Although Huckabee and Edwards profess to loathe and vow to change Washington's culture, each would aggravate its toxicity. Each overflows with and wallows in the pugnacity of the self-righteous who discern contemptible motives behind all disagreements with them and who therefore think that opponents are enemies and differences are unsplittable.[…]
Barack Obama, who might be mercifully closing the Clinton parenthesis in presidential history, is refreshingly cerebral amid this recrudescence of the paranoid style in American politics. He is the un-Edwards and un-Huckabee — an adult aiming to reform the real world rather than an adolescent fantasizing mock-heroic "fights" against fictitious villains in a left-wing cartoon version of this country.Will’s entire column is here.
A pundit is supposed to be a learned person whose opinions and judgments inform and uplift us.
So few of those we call “pundits” really do that. But Will sure did today, as he usually does.
Only today I especially appreciated his column because it was such a searing, illuminating and deserved evisceration of a pair of posturing, self-seeking hypocrites who demean America in order to serve themselves.
I’ll say more about them tomorrow.
Meanwhile, on the 1 to 10 scale I scored Will’s column a 20. He earned a 10 for exposing and skewering each of them.