I started reading The Economist as few years ago so I could find out what the other side had to say. One year I got a free subscription when I donated to KQED and since then, cheapskate that I am I have been holding out for another free subscription. But it never came and, after three years, I guess it’s not gonna. So I just coughed up some actual money for my subscription.
I was Jonesing for some conservative opinion and couldn’t wait for my newspaper to arrive, so I went online. I don’t know if I changed or if they changed – but I find myself agreeing with The Economist aÂ lot more than I used to. Maybe I need to find me something further to the right?
AS RECENTLY as a few months ago, it seemed possible to hope that this yearâ€™s presidential election would be a civilised affair. Barack Obama and John McCain both represent much that is best about their respective parties. Mr Obama is intelligent, inspiring and appears by instinct to be a consensus-seeking pragmatist. John McCain has always stood for limited, principled government, and has distanced himself throughout his career from the religious ideologues that have warped Republicanism. An intelligent debate about issues of the utmost importanceâ€”how America should rebuild its standing in the world, how more Americans could share in the proceeds of growthâ€”seemed an attainable proposition.
It doesnâ€™t seem so now. In the past two weeks, while banks have tottered and markets reeled, the contending Democrats and Republicans have squabbled and lied rather than debated. Mr McCainâ€™s team has been nastier, accusing Mr Obama of sexism for calling the Republican vice-presidential candidate a pig, when he clearly did no such thing. Much nastier has been the assertion that Mr Obama once backed a bill that would give kindergarten children comprehensive sex education. Again, this was a distortion: the bill Mr Obama backed provided for age-appropriate sex education, and was intended to protect children from sex offenders.
One of the cool things about The Economist is that they don’t feel the need to play the silly He said, she said games that mainstream American newspapers play. The never pretend that their coverage is objective. The news is always subjective. That’s true of all news outlets but The Economist doesn’t pretend otherwise.
They had a few words to say about Palin too.
Inexperienced and Bush-level incurious. She has no record of interest in foreign policy, let alone expertise. She once told an Alaskan magazine: â€œIâ€™ve been so focused on state government; I havenâ€™t really focused much on the war in Iraq.â€ She obtained an American passport only last summer to visit Alaskan troops in Germany and Kuwait. This not only blunts Mr McCainâ€™s most powerful criticism of Mr Obama. It also raises serious questions about the way he makes decisions.
Mr McCainâ€™s appointment also raises more general worries about the Republican Partyâ€™s fitness for government. Up until the middle of last week Mr McCain was still considering two other candidates whom he has known for decades: Joe Lieberman, a veteran senator, independent Democrat and Iraq war hawk, and Tom Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania (a swing state with 21 Electoral College votes) and the first secretary of homeland security. Mr McCain reluctantly rejected both men because their pro-choice views are anathema to the Christian right.
The Palin appointment is yet more proof of the way that abortion still distorts American politics. This is as true on the left as on the right. But the Republicans seem to have gone furthest in subordinating considerations of competence and merit to pro-life purity. One of the biggest problems with the Bush administration is that it appointed so many incompetents because they were sound on Roe v Wade. Mrs Palinâ€™s elevation suggests that, far from breaking with Mr Bush, Mr McCain is repeating his mistakes.