Saturday, April 29, 2023

Point of Order: America - for an introvert

This week US President Joe Biden issued a video message to say he was joining former President Donald Trump in offering to renew his employment in 2024.

For different reasons, both men consider themselves eminently qualified. An important reason for both is that they are not the other.

Recent disclosures in the Fox News defamation case suggest that some who once had access to Trump are unenthusiastic about his candidacy.

Whereas the Democratic party apparatchiks who enjoy Biden’s hazy approach to policy and administration probably take an opposite view of their man.

So how about a wonk in the White House?

The National Review considers the potential of the not-yet-declared candidacy of Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis from a new angle:

“… a consistent line of criticism of Ron DeSantis, even from some nervous supporters, is that he is simply too introverted to be a successful presidential candidate and president.”

The article plucks out a long list of people-presidents, noting that “ Joe Biden was once an extreme extrovert” and “some modern Republican leaders have been decidedly people-person types, such as Donald Trump and George W. Bush.”

It does not examine whether Bill Clinton and Donald Trump shared a certain quality of extroversion in their relationship with women.

But it does offer this endorsement of DeSantis:

“The flip side of this personality trait is that DeSantis is also famous for his intensive focus and preparation. He is known for a nearly unparalleled capacity to consume briefing materials and do his own research. This aspect of his character was especially notable during the early months of the pandemic, when other politicians were relying on expert medical advice and DeSantis was coming to his own conclusions from plowing through scientific studies. We all have only so much bandwidth; the mental energy that DeSantis conserves in dealing with people leaves him more room to focus on information. In that sense, it is a trade-off.”

Some readers might not be encouraged by the National Review’s classification of Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon as introverts. But both challenged policy orthodoxy: Carter with his initiation of deregulation and appointment of hard-money Paul Volcker to the Federal Reserve; Nixon with extrication from Vietnam and the opening to China. And these policies have aged better than most.

You might think the US could do with some of that.

Phil Gramm and Pat Toomey, two former Republican senators, seem to think so, in a well-argued critique of Biden’s administration in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal.

They identify:

“a sea change in the [US] economy’s regulatory ecosystem”


“the executive branch and its regulatory agencies are unbound by the laws they are supposed to uphold and hostile to the industries they regulate, undermining the political accountability at the heart of our republican government”

Big talk. But they make a surprisingly convincing and less-partisan-than-you-might-expect case that Joe Biden’s policy people are aiming for an unprecedented level of regulatory oversight and market distortion, bringing the US closer to the European model. And suggest that the growth forecasts are responding by moving in the direction of European stagnation.

They also observe – with commendably bipartisan irony – that “[President Biden’s] regulatory and antitrust policies imperil reforms implemented by Mr. Carter, including the deregulation of airlines, trucking, railroads, energy and communications. That deregulation reinvigorated the economy, fueled the Reagan recovery and laid the foundation of America’s current prosperity”.

Perhaps Gramm and Toomey worry too much. The American system allows for congressional Republicans to push back in the current debt-ceiling negotiations and for the Supreme Court to pare back executive overreach (for example, with regard to the administration’s proposed $500 billion student loan forgiveness plan).

Or perhaps having a guy in the White House who prefers to stay home and pick apart briefing papers – and then make a decision – might be timely.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton

1 comment:

Clive Bibby said...

What is about current US politics that allows the survival of such an incompetent chief executive as Biden and the woke policies that have spawned under his disastrous occupation (can’t call it leadership) of the Whitehouse..
You don’t have to be a sycophantic democrat supporter to realise that the country is in a huge mess and will require a monumental change in direction before it recovers bthe lost ground it has forfeited to China.
I agree that DeSantis looks to be capable of the leadership style the Free World so desperately needs and perhaps unsurprisingly, Robert Kennedy Jr. as the Democratic alternative would make for a contest that, irrespective of the outcome, would put the show back on the road.
It seems unbelievable that the average American punter would continue to tolerate this betrayal for a minute longer - but l guess we do get the politicians we deserve. And sadly, only a few of them turn out to be better than expected.
Let’s hope the American public will come to their senses and forcibly bring about the change that is so desperately needed.
I’m not holding my breath