A progressive with a punch: Sherrod Brown
If Ohio's senior senator were named Sharon Brown instead of Sherrod Brown, progressives would have a plausible political pin-up and a serious alternative to the tawdry boredom of Hillary Clinton's joyless plod toward her party's presidential nomination. Drop one of Brown's consonants and change another, and a vowel, and we might be spared the infatuation of what Howard Dean called “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” for Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Sherrod Brown won't be considered because the Democratic Party's activist core is incurably devoted to identity politics — the proposition that people are whatever their gender is (or their race or ethnicity or sexual orientation or whatever seems stupendously important at the moment). And the party's base seems determined to nominate and elect a woman, thereby proving that what has occurred in Britain, Germany, Israel, India, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and other nations can happen here.
Feel the excitement.
Brown, however, looks, sounds and acts like a real, as opposed to faculty club, leftist. Although he is a Yale graduate, he has the rumpled look and hoarse voice of someone who spent last night on Paris barricades, exhorting les miserables to chuck cobblestones at the forces defending property. And he is not just talk.
Last summer, before the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov, and the rest of the continuing cascade of Barack Obama's debacles, there occurred a little-noted episode that was a harbinger of the president's coming difficulties. It was then clear that Obama's preferred choice to replace Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board was not Janet Yellen but Larry Summers, who many Democrat senators opposed.
Some might have been hostile because Summers' abrasive manner offended senatorial self-esteem. Others, however, were opposed because of policy rather than vanity: They thought that as Bill Clinton's Treasury secretary and as Obama's principal economic adviser, Summers had been insufficiently adversarial toward big financial institutions, from some of which he had found remunerative employments since leaving government.
One Democrat senator quickly got 20 colleagues to sign a letter expressing support for Janet Yellen, thereby compelling Obama to retreat on his exercise of a core presidential power, that of making nominations. The impudent perpetrator of this act of lese-majeste was Brown, who said that given more time he could have gotten the signatures of up to 27 members of the Democrats' caucus.
He has sponsored legislation to codify, with caps on insured deposits, the principle that a bank too big to fail is too big to exist. He is impeccably wrong, meaning progressive, about free trade. He is for “fair trade,” aka protectionism disguised in Pecksniffian sanctimony demanding that less-developed nations adopt stronger labor and environmental standards. And in 2012, a sign outside the Ohio Democratic Party headquarters proclaimed: “Only vehicles assembled by union workers in North America are welcome in this parking lot.”
As a congressman on the House Committee on International Relations in 2003 he, unlike Sen. Clinton, was impeccably right in opposing what became the worst foreign policy blunder in U.S. history, the invasion of Iraq. He was unpersuaded by the supposed evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and said President George W. Bush had not answered questions about the war's cost, the occupation and probable Iraqi civilian deaths (which turned out to be more than 125,000).
Warren's status as the progressives' heartthrob stems from the theatricality with which she has alighted upon the obvious with a sense of original discovery and has studiously not drawn the obvious but inconvenient conclusion. She is incandescent with fury about the fact, which it certainly is, that big government is a tireless servant of the strong. She is scandalized by the process by which the regulatory state, progressivism's achievement, is manipulated by those sufficiently affluent, articulate and confident to hire manipulative lawyers and lobbyists.
In 1996, Bill Clinton ran for re-election promising to “build a bridge to the 21st century.” Today, here comes Hillary Clinton, trailing clouds of seediness and promising to build a bridge back to the 20th century, promising, evidently, restoration of the 1990s prosperity based on commercialization of the Internet. Asked recently about marijuana, she said she was about to commit “radical candor.” She proceeded to say we should “wait and see” what happens where it is legalized.
Are progressives so preoccupied with gender that they prefer Clinton's risk-averse careerism, or Warren's astonished tantrums about the obvious dynamics of Big Government, to Brown's authentic progressivism? Yes.
George F. Will is a columnist for The Washington Post and Newsweek.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Bodies of Kochu, Gray found in Ohio River in West Virginia
- West Mifflin Area to sue for tuition reimbursement
- North Buffalo man charged with distributing child porn
- Armstrong schools put television programming online
- Penguins’ protracted slump continues with 5-2 loss at Carolina
- Police end standoff with New Kensington man
- Narduzzi set to begin more critical evaluations during Pitt football spring drills
- European carriers lack 2-person cockpit rule in place in U.S.
- Pittsburgh angles to keep Heinz headquarters in merger
- Women to stand trial in theft of drugs from Norwin Pharmacy
- Pirates notebook: Worley bounces back after rough start