Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Repub debate not helpful

Here's a link to the Register's editorial on the Republican economic "debate" held on Tuesday. I had to watch the darn thing from beginning to end. Ron Paul got too few chances to speak, but I was impressed with his discussion of sound money. Thompson started slowly and picked up confidence but was not especially impressive, letting Romney and Giuliani, two blokes with moderate records trying to out-conservative one another, dominate the affair with talk of a line-item veto (yawn). Still, if voters are in a mood for a calming leader, one who just might have a chance to reach across the aisle now and then, he might have a chance. But I'm not sure how many voters actually want that in a president, and it's possible those who do will go for Hillary.

We were appalled at the number of candidates who have abandoned free trade, despite most of the majors offering at least rhetorical obeisance. With the Democrats almost uniformly skeptical, I fear moves toward more freedom of trade are in for a rough patch, and there could be some backsliding toward more protectionism. It's still a mystery to me that free trade, which sober analysis demonstrates is beneficial to almost everyone involved (though short-term dislocations and "creative destruction" in the direction of efficiency and lower costs do occur) is so easy to demagogue against in the political arena. Can anybody come up with a way to make it emotionally as well as intellectually compelling?

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