Wednesday, August 27, 2003



Republicans, at least since the 1980 election, have gotten lots of mileage out of billing themselves as the party of competence. They knew how to deal with the Russkies. They understood a budget. They knew how to crack down on the crooks and hoodlums. They understood the bottom line, and they knew what was right for America. The Democrats, meanwhile, were supposedly more interested in their dainty little social-engineering schemes than in success. Lots of people bought all of this, and of course there was a little bit of truth to it -- then. But the labels stuck hard. Democrats still have to take dramatic steps to prove their competence while Republicans are presumed -- by the mainstream media, anyway -- to possess it until they demonstrate otherwise.

Well, guess what? They've demonstrated otherwise. No one -- no one -- can name a single front on which today's Republicans have shown even the simplest competence. They don't know how to manage an economy. They sure don't know how to balance a budget. They have no idea how to create jobs (though they do have a pretty strong sense of how to make them disappear). Their domestic-security measures have consisted of the usual emphasis on show over substance, first stealing a Democratic idea (the Department of Homeland Security) and then underfunding the result in some crucial respects -- a mistake for which I pray we never pay a price.