In his editor's note in the current edition of Newsweek, Jon Meacham surveys the failures of the past decade or so and comes to a completely unsurprising conclusion: the right and leftbothfailed.
From the financial sector to the Roman Catholic Church, it has been a bad couple of years for–to borrow a phrase from a BP chieftain–"big, important" players in global life. Going only a bit further back in the decade, the occupation of Iraq and the response to Katrina seem to mark the beginning of an era in which apparently competent institutions have all too often proved incompetent. The history of these years fails to fit neatly into the ideological categories of left or right, for both public and private enterprises have managed to miss the mark in hours of crisis. Government is not the root of all evil; neither are corporations.
The pull quote in the print edition reads, "Recent debacles do not fit into the categories of left or right, for both public and private enterprises have failed spectacularly."
Huh. Actually, I think most of those examples do fit pretty nicely into one category: The left opposed the Iraq War, opposed financial deregulation andsounded warnings about the housing bubble. Meacham also cited the BP oil spill; the left has longopposed offshore drilling. Meacham's trying to say that when "government" fails, it's evidence that the left is mistaken inputting so much faith in government. But that would require one to attribute Bush's disastrous Iraq War to the "left."
If you stick tothe examples Meacham offers, it would seem more logical to conclude that the left was right, and the right was mostly wrong. Unless, that is, Katrina and Catholic priest sexual abuse were ideas of the left.
Jon Meacham, who's the co-host of PBS's new Need to Know public affairs program, lives in a world where the answers are always foundin the center-right part of the political spectrum. You really have to twist yourself in knots in order to try and get this to make any sense, though.