Political Animal


December 04, 2012 10:54 AM Bad Idea Oscars

By Ed Kilgore

Beware, America! Leading Republicans are gathering in Washington tonight to honor each other at a Jack Kemp Foundation awards dinner. The inherent nature of the event, held in the name of the original “empowerment” champion Kemp, and the timing (when Republicans are hungry for “new ideas” based on the same old ideology) make this a likely occasion for the unveiling of some really bad policy proposals, probably involving tax credits christened as “pro-family” or “pro-responsibility,” and guaranteed not to unsettle any of America’s economic power relationships.

Moreover, as Politico’s VandeHei and Allen inform us, this is the first tilt in the 2016 presidential contest, with the two scheduled speakers—this year’s Jack Kemp award winner Marco Rubio, and last year’s Paul Ryan—both trying to break some new ground. Rubio needs to show some substantive chops, and get out of his Latino conservative box. And Ryan needs to start becoming something other than (to use Charles Pierce’s catchy term) a “zombie-eyed granny-starver.”

So they’ve both been hanging with the conservative think tank crowd, and we’ll all wait with bated breath to see what the ideas wizards of the Right have in store for us via these marquee pols. It’s been my observation over the years that a powerful disinclination to deploy the public sector to do anything positive tends to lead conservatives to come up with “policy ideas” that are thinly-disguised vehicles for abandoning public responsibilities (e.g., the ever-popular devolution and privatization schemes). Conservatives are usually on stronger ground when the peddle the undiluted cut-taxes-and-government elixir. But that has limited sex appeal beyond “the base,” so again: tonight we should all beware when the fruits of right-wing think-tankery get their moments on the red carpet.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on December 04, 2012 11:19 AM:

    How many more euphomisms for screwing the poor, the brown, women, children, and old peole, can they come up with tonight?

    They'll call their plans for super-austerity, "The Ronald Reagan Platinum Recovery Act?"

  • Josef K on December 04, 2012 11:21 AM:

    My unborn daughter is due around May 19th, 2013.

    But right now, this very minute, I am on my knees praying for a destroyer comet to strike the Earth and wipe us all out because I'm utterly, to-the-gills, fed up with these clods.

  • schtick on December 04, 2012 11:24 AM:

    I don't care what appearance Ryan makes, what he promotes and how he sugar-coats anything, I'll never vote for Eddie Munster.
    And gulag, I think they will call it RATS....Reagan's American Treaty for Suckers.

  • Kathryn on December 04, 2012 11:29 AM:

    Feel your pain Josef K., it'll pass. Congrats on baby girl.

    I'd settle for a smaller, but natural event to take out this event.

  • T2 on December 04, 2012 11:37 AM:

    there's nothing to suggest anything but a recitation of the same baloney Ryan and his neo-TeaParty buddies have been trying to stick us with for several years. These guys will never learn. Same Old Sh*t.

  • Daryl McCullough on December 04, 2012 12:18 PM:

    I'm old enough to remember Jack Kemp, and I actually do give him credit, that he seriously tried to figure out conservative means to accomplishing compassionate ends. He championed "enterprise zones", an attempt to lure businesses into inner cities. He was an advocate for civil rights, including rights for homosexuals. He worked to encourage home ownership by the poor (a goal that today's conservatives blame on Democrats, and claim was the cause of the financial meltdown in 2008). After Kemp, "compassionate conservative" became a meaningless buzzword.

    I don't actually think that Kemp accomplished anything of lasting value, but I do believe his heart was in the right place. Today's conservatives would do well to try to honor him.

  • gregor on December 04, 2012 2:46 PM:

    I know what the new idea will be.

    Eat the poor, but don't forget the salsa that goes with it.