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Posts Tagged ‘Fareed Zakaria’
October 18th, 2011 at 6:06 pm
How to Eviscerate a Pundit
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Regular readers of the blog know that there is a small gallery of Washington pundits that I simply cannot abide; not because I disagree with their views, but because I despise the predictability of their positions, the ballast of their prose, and the intellectual laziness of their work.

That’s a group that includes Tom Friedman, Joe Klein, and E.J. Dionne, amongst others. But there’s a special place in pundit hell for the professional joiner: the columnist who always has to march in lockstep with Beltway fashion. That’s why it’s so delightful to see the once-respectable Fareed Zakaria get noted in the New Republic’s list of over-rated DC thinkers. The précis is priceless:

Fareed Zakaria is enormously important to an understanding of many things, because he provides a one-stop example of conventional thinking about them all. He is a barometer in a good suit, a creature of establishment consensus, an exemplary spokesman for the always-evolving middle. He was for the Iraq war when almost everybody was for it, criticized it when almost everybody criticized it, and now is an active member of the ubiquitous “declining American power” chorus. When Obama wanted to trust the Iranians, Zakaria agreed (“They May Not Want the Bomb,” was a story he did for Newsweek); and, when Obama learned different, Zakaria thought differently. There’s something suspicious about a thinker always so perfectly in tune with the moment.

Indeed. Fareed Zakaria is a man who writes Gallup polls in paragraph form. Nice to see the media take notice.

August 25th, 2011 at 1:32 pm
Fareed Zakaria Becomes Woodrow Wilson

Whatever shred of credibility Fareed Zakaria retained as a conservative pundit from his celebrated book The Future of Freedom has now been officially lost thanks to follow-ups like The Post-American World and today’s essay “Does America Need a Prime Minister?”

In the essay, Zakaria uses the recent S&P downgrade of American sovereign debt to note that “no country with a presidential system has a triple-A rating from all three major ratings agencies.”  He then uses this to support his thesis that the United States would be better served by chucking separation-of-powers and moving to a British-style parliamentary system where the executive and legislative branches are the same.  After all, Britain still has a triune triple-A rating!

How wonderfully anti-American of the Harvard PhD.  Throughout the essay one realizes that Zakaria has wandered so far from the insights of the Founding generation that he now endorses the very system – and possibility for tyranny – that the American Revolution fought to end.  So too did another PhD-turned-constitutional-scold: Woodrow Wilson, the godfather of America’s progressive movement.

Wilson believed that government needed to be professionalized and removed from popular control so that it could act quickly and decisively to cure whatever ailed the populace.  He favored the parliamentary system because it gave enormous power to one man: the Prime Minister.

To appreciate how far Zakaria has wandered from core American principles about the proper way to construct a government, consider this passage from today’s essay:

In the American presidential system, in contrast, you have the presidency and the legislature, both of which claim to speak for the people. As a result, you always have a contest over basic legitimacy. Who is actually speaking for and representing the people?

In America today, we take this struggle to an extreme. We have one party in one house of the legislature claiming to speak for the people because theirs was the most recent electoral victory.  And you have the president who claims a broader mandate as the only person elected by all the people.  These irresolvable claims invite struggle.

There are, of course, advantages to the American system – the checks and balances have been very useful on occasion. But we’re living in a world where you need governments that are able to respond decisively and quickly.  In a fast-moving world, paralysis is dangerous. Other countries are catching up – if not overtaking – America.

Who are these other countries?  Members of the European Union with a currency and debt crisis several times worse than our own?  China with its unsustainable population demographics and monetary policy?  Arab dictatorships that are being toppled by the month?  Latin American oligarchies that nationalize industries to buy off the masses with the wealth of entrepreneurs?

The problem we are experiencing in Washington, D.C. is not America’s constitutional design of checks-and-balances and separation-of-powers.  If anything, the ability of the House GOP to slow down the liberal agenda to tax-and-spend the nation into bankruptcy is due solely to the very “paralysis” intended by our constitutional framework.

If Zakaria wants to end the paralysis in D.C., he should vote for pro-growth fiscal conservatives in 2012 and urge all of his readers to do the same.

August 2nd, 2010 at 11:12 pm
Senator Fareed Zakaria (D-Newsweek)
Posted by Troy Senik Print

It gets a little tiresome having to read columnist Fareed Zakaria’s senate floor speeches masquerading as opinion pieces in Newsweek every seven days. Dr. Z has a tendency to write columns with grandiose titles such as “How to Salvage Afghanistan” and “Defusing the Debt Bomb”.  While it’s admirable that he’s at least trying to offer solutions, most of Zakaria’s bigthink is pretty small — conventional Washington wisdom masquerading as divine revelation.

Zakaria’s gift for analysis is not nearly as deep as he thinks and nothing proves it more than his new piece in Newsweek, entitled “Raise My Taxes, Mr. President”. Taking a page out of the Obama playbook and fashioning himself a centrist who can rise above the fray, Zakaria writes:

[The Bush tax] cuts are set to expire this year. The Republicans say they want to keep them all, even for those making more than $250,000 a year (less than 3 percent of Americans). They say that higher taxes will hurt the recovery. But for months now they have been arguing that the chief threat to the economy is our gargantuan debt and deficit. That’s what’s scaring consumers, creditors, and businesses. Given a chance to address those fears by getting serious about deficit reduction, though, they run away.

Fareed is making a mistake that should be recognizable to anybody who’s ever watched an episode of “House”. He’s making a diagnosis based on symptoms rather than an underlying cause. Yes, America’s debt is horrible. But let’s keep one of Milton Friedman’s key insights in mind: all spending is a form of taxation — it has to be paid for sooner or later, one way or another.

Balancing the budget through tax increases only moves the government’s burden on the private sector from debt to taxation. Think of it this way: if you want to get your personal finances in order, does it make more sense to simply pay for your reckless spending with cash instead of a credit card or to actually buckle down and stop spending as much? If you realize that the first can save you a few bucks here and there, but only the second can provide financial salvation, you’re on the right track. You’re also smarter than Fareed Zakaria.