On the front of Sunday's Business section, Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein slammed GOP candidates: "If you came up with a bumper sticker that pulls together the platform of this year’s crop of Republican presidential candidates, it would have to be: Repeal the 20th century. Vote GOP."
Pearlstein seemed especially insulted that Gov. Rick Perry would suggest John Maynard Keynes and his "stimulus" economics were through, and no one on the Republican stage came to the liberal icon's defense. Somehow, reporters (and former reporters like Pearlstein) always expect there to be a liberal in the other party's fold. Liberals really hate it when you say their ideas are outdated.
In the paper, the column headline was "The Republicans' magical thinking." Here's how Pearlstein followed up the "Repeal the 20th century" stuff:
t’s not just the 21st century they want to turn the clock back on — health-care reform, global warming and the financial regulations passed in the wake of the recent financial crises and accounting scandals.
These folks are actually talking about repealing the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency, created in 1970s.
They’re talking about abolishing Medicare and Medicaid, which passed in the 1960s, and Social Security, created in the 1930s.
They reject as thoroughly discredited all of Keynesian economics, including the efficacy of fiscal stimulus, preferring the budget-balancing economic policies that turned the 1929 stock market crash into the Great Depression.
They also reject the efficacy of monetary stimulus to fight recession, and give the strong impression they wouldn’t mind abolishing the Federal Reserve and putting the country back on the gold standard.
They refuse to embrace Darwin’s theory of evolution, which has been widely accepted since the Scopes Trial of the 1920s.
One of them is even talking about repealing the 16th and 17th amendments to the Constitution, allowing for a federal income tax and the direct election of senators — landmarks of the Progressive Era.
What’s next — repeal of quantum physics?
Not every candidate embraces every one of these kooky ideas. But what’s striking is that when Rick Perry stands up and declares that “Keynesian policy and Keynesian theory is now done,” not one candidate is willing to speak up for the most important economic thinker of the 20th century. Or when Michele Bachmann declares that natural selection is just a theory, none of the other candidates is willing to risk the wrath of the religious right and call her on it. Leadership, it ain’t.
Pearlstein somehow missed (or thought it wasn't specific enough) when Jon Huntsman was set up to declare the GOP couldn't be seen as "anti-science."