When Heroes Disappoint

Among the steadily dwindling justifications for paying a cable bill remains Fox News’s Journal Editorial Report. The weekly half hour commentary features the brightest political minds. With faces and personalities meant for print, the brain power of this bunch carries the show. Lead by Paul Gigot, but with a brain after-burner in Kim Strassel, this is a political enthusiast’s best TV program. With such high regard, last week’s program was the let-down of the year.

Dan Henninger starts with a misunderstanding of the Lance Armstrong affair. Henninger opined that Armstrong’s cheating was a “miss” of note for 2013. Maybe he did not have the air time to explain, but Armstrong’s cheating was so commonplace, nobody can cite a racer of any prestige who did not also cheat. Indeed, every rider who came in second to Armstrong in his Tours De France wins was also a doper, so the titles have been left vacant. Armstrong’s cheating was more common than not among top cyclists, so the real miss is to the system. In a Road to Serfdom parallel, the system was so corrupt that the rise of an Armstrong was inevitable; indeed, he now claims that the cycling authorities colluded in his doping. Armstrong’s real crimes were his ruining peers and friends with slander in order to keep his cheating empire alive. Such ruthless cruelty is bread by a system without ethics.

The Wall Street Journal is not a sports rag, so Henninger’s fumble (get it?) is of no consequence. Rather, their ringleader, Gigot, revealed that his Potomac tenure had finally softened his mind. Gigot’s “miss” of the year was the GOP-lead partial government shutdown. Citing the harm it did to the GOP brand, he slammed the poor strategy behind the effort.

Well, no. First, the shutdown did not affect any of the necessary functions of government. All of government’s big and visible programs remained in force – the military, Social Security, and Medicare. Hardly anybody outside of Washington would have known the government was shut down, which is probably why Pres. Obama unnecessarily barricaded memorials and shuttered web sites. Statists of all parties predicted a recession and rising unemployment, but nothing much happened at all. Indeed the sequester and shutdown coincided with a slight improvement in the economy’s recovery. The Washington bubble is so insular, no real person even noticed that the EPA was on vacation.

True, GOP generic polling was taking a hit during the shutdown. However, chasing polls is what lead the party to nominate a buffoon like Sen. McCain or a damp rag like Gov. Romney. The pollsters said Gov. Reagan could never beat Pres. Carter as well. Chasing polls is chasing the lowest common denominator, and that game is already mastered by the Dems who are enabled by the Old Media.

How sad that Gigot fell into the swamp-think of populism vs. leadership. No wonder Stephen Moore was not on to rebut Gigot’s premise. Moore, an anti-Keynesian might have argued that the shutdown improved the economy and was a service to the nation. He might have pointed out that all the doomsday rhetoric surrounding the shutdown remains unsubstantiated.

Does Gigot think the latest capitulation on the sequester is also good politics? When the GOP look like Dems, as they did under Pres. Bush, the GOP gets rolled. The editorial media’s job is to explain issues and frame them in the context of principle. Gigot failed in this duty with his continued bashing of those who consider Washington as an enemy of liberty and prosperity. You are forgiven, Mr. Gigot, but please get with the program.

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