Friday, January 06, 2006

The incomparable Peggy Noonan

The Steamroller
The road to big government reaches a dead end at Jack Abramoff.
We can only hope
Thursday, January 5, 2006 12:01 a.m.

The problem with government is that it is run by people, and people are flawed. They are not virtue machines. We are all of us, even the best of us, vulnerable to the call of the low: to greed, conceit, insensitivity, ruthlessness, the desire to show you're in control, in charge, in command.

A point that needs to be made and remade forever and ever, amen. "We mean well and do ill and ask that our ill-doing be forgiven because we are well-meaning."


This is essentially why conservatives of my generation and earlier generations don't like big government. They don't even like government. We know we have to have one, that it is necessary, that it can and must do good, that it has real responsibilities that must be met. Madison again, in Federalist 51: "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself."

These are wise words.

But conservatives are not supposed to like big government. It's not our job. We're supposed to like freedom and the rights of the individual. (Individuals aren't virtue machines either, but they're less powerful than governments and so generally less damaging.) We're supposed to be on the side of the grass the steamroller flattens.

Are you listening, neocons? Members of the Bush/Dole/Nixon/Dewey part of the Republican party. I'd hoped you'd gone home after 1996, but it's still not too late.


What followed was the trauma of the end of the Clinton years, the 2000 election, the Bush administration, and the historic rise in the antisteamroller party of a new operating assumption: that the steamroller will always be with us. And that if it is destined to become always and every year bigger, heavier and more powerful, then you might as well relax and learn how to run it, how to drive it and direct it. Make friends with the steamroller. Run it to your own ends and not the other team's.

This was understandable, especially after 9/11. Defense is expensive; technology has its own demands; the stakes are high.

And yet. All other parts of the government grew. The size and force of it grew in ways that were not at all necessary or crucial.

And we have a *republican* VPOTUS saying deficits don't matter.

Read it all. Read what Noonan has to say every week!

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