June 1, 2006

THE VIEW FROM THE ATTIC (via David Linton):

Third Time: America may be ready for a new political party (Peggy Noonan, June 1, 2006, Opinion Journal)

Something's happening. I have a feeling we're at some new beginning, that a big breakup's coming, and that though it isn't and will not be immediately apparent, we'll someday look back on this era as the time when a shift began.

All my adult life, people have been saying that the two-party system is ending, that the Democrats' and Republicans' control of political power in America is winding down. According to the traditional critique, the two parties no longer offer the people the choice they want and deserve. Sometimes it's said they are too much alike--Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Sometimes it's said they're too polarizing--too red and too blue for a nation in which many see things through purple glasses.

In 1992 Ross Perot looked like the breakthrough, the man who would make third parties a reality. He destabilized the Republicans and then destabilized himself. By the end of his campaign he seemed to be the crazy old aunt in the attic.

The Perot experience seemed to put an end to third-party fever. But I think it's coming back, I think it's going to grow, and I think the force behind it is unique in our history.

The problem for Ms Noonan is that the Democrats -- because they are the party of Big Labor, Secularists, and blacks -- are the party that naturally shares her concerns. So, as the plates shift, she and her ilk are going to end up in league with the statists on the three interlocking issues that move the far Right and the Left: immigration, protectionism, and isolationism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 1, 2006 10:06 AM

Peggy Noonan a secularist?

Posted by: j at June 1, 2006 10:20 AM

Mickey Kaus thinks Maverick's getting ready for a 3rd party run.

Posted by: Sandy P at June 1, 2006 10:26 AM

Democrats who want to vote for him always think he's about to. In reality, they're just Republicans.

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 10:29 AM

Peggy is so desperate to talk about '08 that she is willing to write drivel she knows isn't true, and never has been. It's getting amusing to watch her contort herself in this manner.

Posted by: Brad S at June 1, 2006 10:34 AM

BTW, Peggy Noonan is an obvious chattering class backstabber. Look what she wrote about her boss, the sainted Ronald Reagan. Makes anything she wrote critical of Dubya seem tame by comparison.

Posted by: Brad S at June 1, 2006 10:40 AM

Interesting the folks whose nativism is driving them crazy.

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 10:41 AM

Peggy Noonan writes a pretty good speech. Everything else is pretty much just babbling.

Posted by: kevin whited at June 1, 2006 11:10 AM

I respectfully disagree with the mutual back-patting society here.

While the "results" in 2006/8 may go the way you all predict, the fact is that there is a growing contempt for the existing system.

While the continuation of the current 2-party model will probably remain intact, it will be challenged aggressively in the coming years.

While most here are certainly correct that the far right will gravitate to "nativist, protectionist, and isolationist" positions, that does not change the fact that many more reasonable folks are of the view that the system of checks and balances that made this system stable-is breaking down.

When the Corporate Class (which is neither conservative, pro-market, libertarian nor individualistic) can pretty much purchase legislation that grants them protection, subsidies, patent/copyright extensions, emminent domain for profit, and virtually any other manner of "rent seeking" at the expense of the society they are putatively part of, there is something wrong with the system.

I hold out some hope that our system is capable of self-renewal, but not with out the necessary competition from independent parties or voting reforms (ballot initiatives, open primaries, instant run offs, or the like)

Those here who correctly decry "protectionism" seem to ignore the fact that current power structure is rapidly "protecting" itself beyond reform. History and reason dictate that this will lead to stagnation.

Posted by: Bruno at June 1, 2006 11:42 AM


The "corporate class" is the biggest beneficiary of the current angst/chatter that goes on in both the media and the blogosphere. All that "corporate class" has to do is let everyone burn their voices out screaming about the latest "outrage."

And by the way, have you ever considered how much of this nation's economy is "rent seeking" in some form or another? I'll bet the amount will stagger you, and that the majority of the "rent seeking" will involve middle class people.

Posted by: Brad S at June 1, 2006 11:49 AM


No, there isn't. There's the same contempt for the system we always have and the same high regard for our own representatives we always have. If the Corporate Class had any power we'd have privatized SS. They don't.

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 11:49 AM

As JPod pointed out on the NRO Corner, Peggy wants to elect Hillary.

Posted by: Casey Abell at June 1, 2006 11:54 AM

And I think we know why, Casey. Some people just can't let go of the fun (and profits) they had during the Clinton years.

Posted by: Brad S at June 1, 2006 11:57 AM

Hillary won't stop immigration or the ports deal.

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 11:57 AM

If you read the entire column, you'll see that it is totally content-free. There's no insight--heck, there's hardly an idea.

It's the summer of a non-Presidential election year. No Americans who have anything better to do are even thinking about politics right now, let alone worrying about the things that Ms. Noonan thinks are keeping people up at night.

Posted by: b at June 1, 2006 12:07 PM

As the KosKids show, it's a lot more fun to be irresponsible and on the outside than to have to sober up and be the guys responsible for running things. And there are a lot of people who pine for the Good Ol' Days when they had Slick WIlly to provide them with so much ineptitude that they never had a chance to run out of column ideas and consulting fees.

As for the people unhappy with the current system, they're mostly the "independent moderates" of the middle who don't want to be bothered with having to make a decision, but want someone to do it for them, but at the same time want to micromanage both the decisions and the decision makers, then blame everyone but themselves for the resulting mess. (Their ongoing, decades long infatuation with "electoral reform" is a classic case study of what happens when you pander to "moderates".) . In other words, they don't know what they want, but it damn well better be provided in huge happy doses or they'll throw a conniption fit like the 3-year old children they are. And make a giant mess of things in the process. The best thing to do is ground them for the weekend, at which point they'll find something else to be sullen about.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 1, 2006 12:08 PM

In fact, I think it's some loony feminism from the weird Jesus lady (that's Peggy, not Hillary). A while back Peggy wrote that women were just itching to vote for Hillary no matter what their political opinions. Peggy's doing her best to split the GOP to make Hillary viable in 2008.

Peggy's loonball paragraph from March 31, 2005:

"And on top of all that, It's time for a woman. Almost every young woman in America, every tough old suburban momma, every unmarried urban high-heel-wearing, briefcase-toting corporate lawyer will be saying it. They'll be working for, rooting for, giving to the woman."

Right, Peggy, every suburban momma will vote for Hillary. Every young (under 50?) woman will vote for Hillary. Every woman in the universe - including Princess Leia - will vote for Hillary.

Okay, the WJL did say she was exaggerating, "but not by much." Sorry, Peggy, but you're exaggerating out the wazoo. Maybe you're rooting for the woman by trying to split the Repubs. But gazillions of other women voters aren't.

Posted by: Casey Abell at June 1, 2006 12:08 PM


Though what you wrote is generally correct, it doesn't address the issue.

The fact that we are all rent-seekers doesn't make rent-seeking right. Nor does it address the possibility that the balance of power in the rent-seeking wars may be off kilter.

Posted by: Bruno at June 1, 2006 12:12 PM


Actually, in a democracy it does make it right.

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 12:16 PM


My livelihood is currently dependent on my company complying with a certain federal regulation, a classic case of rent-seeking.

Think I'm about to kill that golden goose in order to stick to first principles?

Posted by: Brad S at June 1, 2006 12:19 PM

Paraphrasing Lincoln...

Some can abandon principles all of of the time. All can abandon principles some of the time, but we can't all abandon principles all of the time.

While we certainly aren't at the end of 'principles' just yet, it is my view that this is the direction that we are heading.

I'm open to the possibility that I may be wrong, but I doubt it.

Posted by: Bruno at June 1, 2006 12:34 PM

Of course Lincoln was completely unprincipled in pursuit of his goal.

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 12:40 PM


Responding to your point about "Corp Power" and SS reform.

First, let's expand the legal industry, Public Employee Unions, and NGOs in the example of "Corporate." They are, in fact, corporate entities as well.

You would be correct to argue that their competing interests are examples of the checks & balance system in action.

Examples on both sides abound, but what about the numerous areas where to few people are paying attention?

Congress gifted Disney zillions by rubberstamping a copyright extention that served no one's purpose but Disney's.

The Pharmacuetical industry is working to get every kid in the nation hooked on ritilan, prozac and whatever other pill it can dream up in the future, all in conjunction with schools ramping up an Orwellian "Mental Health Testing" regime.

United, GM, and much of the Fortune 500 are slouhging pension obligations off on the taxpayers when a just system would simply enforce their promises (sending many into the bankruptcy they deserve).

Executives walk with multi-millions while they drive their companies into the ground.

One could go on and on, and you could post 100s of counter examples of the "system" working as well.

At the base of it, our Founding Father's got it right when they said that the entire house of cards is based upon the knowledge level, and more importantly, the character, of the individual voters, (and stockholders, stakeholders, etc. etc.) that make up society.

You seem to think things are OK. I don't.

Posted by: Bruno at June 1, 2006 12:56 PM


Likewise you have to expand until every investor in America is added into the Corporate Class you oppose. So you're basically arguing that the democracy has stopped working because 75% of the American people are getting what they want?

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 1:00 PM

Corporations don't exist. All there is is people.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 1, 2006 1:04 PM

"At the base of it, our Founding Father's got it right when they said that the entire house of cards is based upon the knowledge level, and more importantly, the character, of the individual voters, (and stockholders, stakeholders, etc. etc.) that make up society."

When did they say that? The whole point of the Constitution is to isolate the control of the workings of gov't as far from the average voter as possible.

Posted by: b at June 1, 2006 1:09 PM

The fact that we are all rent-seekers doesn't make rent-seeking right.

Romans 3:23, correct?

Posted by: Mike Morley at June 1, 2006 1:48 PM

The "attraction" of a third party exists because politics is the art of the possible, not the fulfillment of the ideal. You don't get to vote for what you want, because everything you want is not on the menu; you have to vote for the best available imperfect option that comes closest to your hopes (or stands furthest from your fears), and nobody is ever completely happy with the results. We've all heard the complaints, and even made them: there's too much inside baseball with special interests, they're all out of touch, Bush is a wimp on immigration, Reid and Pelosi are too afraid of Rove to stand against the illegal racist oil war, the mayor's cronies repave Division Street every year and it's still full of potholes, yadda yadda yadda.

Therefore, whenever someone talks about adding another option to the menu, people will tend to be optimistic because they hope that the new option will be closer to their ideal than the existing options, and they tend to project their ideal onto the vague, undefined concept of the generic "third party."

Want to organize that new party? You've got to first define what you stand for--more on that in a minute--and as soon as you do that, you have just dashed the hopes of quite a few people who were hoping that the "third party" would be something different. This is the same phenomenon that often occurs when a non-politician is being touted as a possible candidate (e.g. Colin Powell in 1996)--his poll ratings peak the day before he declares that he's running, because the day that he throws his hat in the ring, he's got to start articulating positions.

You can't get around this problem by building your new third party around some vague nonideological concept like "good government" or "reform." The Reform Party failed so spectacularly because it didn't have a coherent ideology beyond "none of the above," which led to it being infested with tinfoil-hat loonies like Granny D, Pat Buchanan, and Jello Biafra. People may not be in love with the current two major parties, but not so unhappy as to go full barking moonbat.

Posted by: Mike Morley at June 1, 2006 2:51 PM

Copyright extension served everybody who holds a copyright, including Bruno's on his remarks in this thread. Nobody can force people to buy drugs they don't want, which means pharma companies can't get anybody hooked unless they want the drugs. The biggest pension obligation of all is Social Security, and its future problems will dwarf any corporate pension issues.

So much for threats from "rent-seekers," whoever they are.

Posted by: Casey Abell at June 1, 2006 2:53 PM

Our system of government needs an informed citizenry to work properly. Thanks to the public schools our citizens are so ill informed that it's a simple matter for the media to get the public to believe their lies.

The hurricane Katrina is a perfect example. The myths have been embedded into the public consciousness to such an extent that the truth will never widely known.

Peggy Noonan? Who knows what motivates her. The better question is why the WSJ prints her column. The editorial board must have their pick of dozens of articles, why this one? Get people talking, sell more papers? Whatever the reason, it's clear that a third party elected Clinton, twice and it's probably safe to say that another third party no matter what or who it's about, will elect a Clinton the third time. An outcome too horrible to contemplate.

Posted by: erp at June 1, 2006 3:59 PM

Same reason the Times prints MoDo--they're cute quota hires.

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 4:02 PM

A third-party is like the generic Democrat who's always beating some specific Republican; it exists only in theory and is thus perfect.

Questions about third-parties are always heard as "Do you support the real life parties who have to compromise to get anything done, or some ideal party that agrees with your self-evidently correct opinion about everything."

Third parties appear in fact when some new, overriding issue develops that neither of the existing parties can accomodate. We are in the middle of a period that is particularly incongenial to a third party, as there is no such issue. Immigration, which has the thinkers in such an uproar, makes for a completely incoherent issue, is important only to a small minority and could easily be accomodated by either existing party if there were any point to it.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 1, 2006 4:18 PM

Erp said:
Thanks to the public schools our citizens are so ill informed that it's a simple matter for the media to get the public to believe their lies.

It's the responsibility of parents to educate their children about politics, the Constitution, economics etcetera.

Posted by: abc123 at June 1, 2006 4:51 PM

Alas, the parents are as ill-informed as their children. Remember this has been going on since the 60's.

Posted by: erp at June 1, 2006 6:20 PM

David, what was the "new overriding issue" that prompted Perot to run as a third party candidate?

Posted by: erp at June 1, 2006 6:22 PM

erp: That wasn't a 3rd party. That was a single crazy rich dude.

Posted by: b at June 1, 2006 6:48 PM

erp said:
Alas, the parents are as ill-informed as their children.


Exactly. That's the good thing about public education.

You pressed one of my buttons.

Parents should provide/pay for, the education of their children. This is only my second post here so let me be clear, 'public schools' should not be 'free'. With that said I would not flush public schools. Everyone I know who went to public schools is doing fine. Is it the school or Mom and Dad?

There is ignorance and there is ignorance. Perhaps if we sent the bottom 25 percent of public school students to private schools we could make public schools better?
/rant off/

Cute smiley on


Posted by: abc123 at June 1, 2006 6:57 PM



Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 8:17 PM


Huh? In 1992?

(Or has it got to the point where "Mexicans" has become your all purpose reason/excuse that anyone does anything?)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 1, 2006 8:55 PM

Remember him raving about the giant sucking sound coming from Mexico?

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 9:11 PM

erp: I should have been more clear that I was discussing when a third party successfully makes the transition to become a permanent party actually able to elect federal officeholders. Perot was, as b says, was a vanity project. Perot didn't create a third party of any note and when he lost interest the party went off the tracks, nominating Pat Buchanan over a physicist who shaped his platform based upon Transcendental Meditation.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 1, 2006 10:21 PM

Wasn't that later, during the Larry King cage death matches with Algore over NAFTA?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 1, 2006 10:50 PM

One could write a book and still not cover all the stuff thrown against the wall in this post/commentary.

Some brief responses...

a) The "there ain't no one here but fine upstanding corporations acting in the public interest" attitude is laughable on it's face.

American policy has always been "for sale" to some extent, but there is a limit to what the system can bear.

b) David is generally correct re: the need for an "overriding issue" vis-a-vis a "successful" 3rd party.

I'll add that with out a decent platform(60%+ poll tested issues), an overriding issue won't get you past one election.

I think there are numerous issues beyond immigration that may combine to qualify for the writing of such a platform - if not nationally, then in various states.

c) My definition of "success" of an electoral alternative is far lower than electing a 3rd Party president. (a nearly impossible task)

The mere presence of an alternative improves the quality of the 2 parties re: policy offerings. This will suffice to keep the Republic safe, while the current path is leading to stagnation.

I chuckle at all the posts about MN being "purple" or even "red" being triumphantly posted by folks who ignore the role the advent of a Ventura played in that outcome.

You may now all go back to knocking down your straw men and women.

Posted by: Bruno at June 2, 2006 8:44 AM


No, there isn't. Democracy requires that politicians respond to vters, so you'll never get the interest-free government you imagine.

Jesse Ventura was the epitome of Blue.

Posted by: oj at June 2, 2006 8:53 AM

oj. Mexicans! Good one. Made me laugh, but I was careful not to let the "others" see me and start staring.

Clinton is so obviously a clod whose only talent is to be able to "pull an Oprah" and cry on cue that he didn't go from a bubba governor (and an ineffectual one at that) with a harridan wife to president on his merits. He had zero chance of being elected without Perot's nutso rhetoric booming out of every radio and television speaker for months on end and, for the intellectual Perot backer, newspaper and magazine articles extolling the "little general" in story after story and in the end he won with only 43% of vote.

I think it's clear there's a lot more to Perot's two runs at office than has been told, but I hesitate to bring it up because we've been taught that conspiracy theories are the ravings of lunatic Art Bell devotees. I believe conspirators would much rather kill the messenger than have the message exposed.

Posted by: erp at June 2, 2006 9:36 AM


Perot had been on a massive ego trip since 1979, when EDS got its last employees out of Iran. I don't think he was conspired to run, but he may have been seduced into it.

Unlike OJ, I don't know if George Bush Sr. would have won minus Perot. Clinton may not have gotten more than 48% of the vote, but would Bush have gone from 37% to 49%? Nobody knows.

It is easy to forget how dispirited the GOP was from about Oct. 1991 on. And George Mitchell had been sabotaging the President since Jan. 20, 1989.

Third parties are fictions of the media, created for excitement value. I had to laugh when I saw that Mickey Kaus postulated a McCain third party run in 2008. It might be the only way that McCain keeps the press on his side, but no one in Congress would ever listen to him (or vote with him) if he did win. Do these people think McCain has Senators on a leash?

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 2, 2006 10:05 AM


You are correct that Ventura was blue, but one house went red that day, and now MN is about to turn totally red.

This isn't rocket science, and it really shouldn't even be a debate. Even your point about 'responding to voters' makes my case.

Alternatives (parties, candidates, ballot reforms) expand the number of voters that the politicians 'respond to.' This is superior to the current model, where 2 corrupt parties repsond only to Big Law, Big Business, Big Education, Big Union, and other examples of Big Piggishness.

Posted by: Bruno at June 2, 2006 10:08 AM


No, they don't. Alternatives prevent any response, which is why a Ventura flames out so quickly and disastrously.

Posted by: oj at June 2, 2006 10:11 AM

Jim, Don't forget old go along to get along Bob Michels who helped his friend Mitchell turn the knife.

Posted by: erp at June 2, 2006 1:00 PM

Bruno -

How is a President Perot (or a President Willis) going to even be on speaking terms with any Congress? You want obstruction and turf battles, elect somebody like Arnold to the White House. What has happened to him in CA is what would happen in D.C. Third parties are pipe dreams.

Do you think Thurmond and Wallace were viable challengers in 1948? What about George Wallace in 1968? Obviously the country had problems then, too. Bloated, unresponsive political parties. Out-of-touch elitists in power. Was it better or worse than Truman won in 1948 and Nixon won in 1968?

As Hugh says, whatever the problem is, the solution is not to elect more Democrats.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 2, 2006 4:35 PM

Bruno: I'm not saying there ain't no one here but fine upstanding corporations acting in the public interest. I'm saying the corporations don't exist. They are figments of our imagination, like the illusion that cartoon characters move. All there is is people. No one claims that people only act in the public interest.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 2, 2006 8:00 PM

David, you're right that "All there is is people." Problems arise when some of the people gang up on others of the people causing some others of the people to jump in on one side or the other and . . . the rest is history.

Posted by: erp at June 3, 2006 8:47 AM