Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Christopher Hitchens on the Clintonistas -- Kudlow on the Obama economic team

Christopher Hitchens is shocked! Specifically, he is dismayed at the choice of Sen. Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State. He recounts the mind-numbing list of ways in which the Clintons have, in his (quite reasonable) view, put themselves and their financial/political interests ahead of the national interest in their conduct with foreign powers.

He says this of the once and future President Obama's choice of her at SOS: "What may look like wound-healing and magnanimity to some looks like foolhardiness and masochism to me."

But why on earth would someone as intelligent as Hitchens be surprised that Obama, whom he endorsed because McCain supposedly lacked the temperament and character to be President, would choose not only Clinton herself, but an entire administration shot through with Clinton administration veterans (the latest count is that about 2/3rds of high-level appointees are Clinton people,) given his proven lack of any allergies to unsavory behavior and associations?

The choice of Clinton and the filling of the Obama cabinet with Clinton administration veterans is actually somewhat reassuring. It shows that Obama understands that he is on perilous ground, and that he needs to be able to say that he reached out for experience.

There are worse things than the Clintons' venality that so offends Hitchens -- far worse. The Clinton administration was pretty predictable because of it (and because of President Clinton's desire to be liked by the public -- a trait GWB could have tried more to emulate.) Predictability brings stability of a sort, and stability helps promote prosperity.

On another front, Larry Kudlow holds out hopes that the fact that Obama's economic team is being packed with Clinton veterans means that tax hikes will wait at least until 2010.

When asked about tax hikes on Monday, Obama said the debate is between repeal and not-renewal. In other words, repeal the Bush tax cuts in 2009, thereby raising tax rates on capital gains and successful earners, or wait until the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2010. Investors want to hear the latter, and Mr. Obama said his team will make a recommendation.

Here’s my thought on his team. Summers, Geithner, and Romer will all recommend no tax hikes in a recession. Maybe for Keynesian reasons; maybe a nod to supply-siders.

We can only hope. Yes, we know the axe is coming to the neck, but doesn't the condemned prisoner always appreciate a reprieve?

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