Friday, October 9, 2009

The $weetest Taboo

Sarah Palin's Facebook page seems to have scored another hit. In the course of a brief commentary about energy policy, she made some critical remarks in passing about the growing weakness of the dollar. Wouldn't you know it? There's a "taboo" against such a thing. There is? Republicans Attack Obama On US Dollar

Leading Republicans echoed Sarah Palin on Thursday in attacking President Barack Obama over the weakness of the U.S. dollar.

Analysts warn it is risky business playing politics with the U.S. currency, which has traditionally been off limits as a play to score points against political opponents.

That taboo appears to have been broken.

A taboo? Are they serious? For Pete's sake, the whole damn Progressive Movement was built on rejecting the gold standard in favor of the free coinage of silver. Remember "America will not be nailed to a cross of gold?" Not only that, "strong dollar" rhetoric is staple applause line among Republicans of a certain stripe. In fact, I seem to recall a few years ago that Forbes and the Wall Street Journal (among others) caused a minor stir by accusing John Snow of pursuing a weak dollar policy during his tenure as W's Treasury Secretary:

Republicans in Congress said the previous Republican administration of former President George W. Bush also deserved blame for dollar weakness but, since taking office on January 20, Democrat Obama was calling the shots.

"I agree with her," Senator Charles Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said when asked by Reuters about Palin's dollar criticism.

"A lot of the recession we are in now goes back to Bush. But the extent to which we passed the $787 billion stimulus bill that is not doing any good -- this president is responsible for," he said.

"It is not the Bush administration anymore. It is nine months into this administration. You can't blame Bush anymore," Grassley added.

You would think that a strong dollar would be one of those obvious issues like a strong national defense or a secure water supply, but that's not really how things work out since a weak dollar allows the government to run up big debt, and then pay it off with lower-value greenbacks. Thus, strong dollar advocates are often treated like our of touch eccentrics. And idiots, if they are Sarah Palin: Obama Under Fire For Falling Dollar

“The dollar has always been a testosterone issue among America’s political classes,” said Norm Ornstein, a veteran analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

“This time there may be a legitimate debate to be had over the dollar’s reserve status, but Sarah Palin is not qualified to participate in it.”

Gee, thanks for the analysis "Norm." You know when someone mentions "testosterone" that you need to be prepared for some deep thinking. Also, the idea that Sarah Palin is "not qualified to participate" in discussions about the dollar's reserve status is pretty insulting to her and to her supporters. She is an aspirant to higher office with obvious popular appeal. She SHOULD be speaking out on the strong dollar on behalf of the nation she would lead and the voters who would support her. Frankly, issues of "strong dollar/weak dollar" politics are too often hidden and obscured by experts like Ornstein because (1) they know a weak dollar is a political loser here in the US and (2) in their heart of hearts they like the idea of a weak dollar because of the budgetary options it gives to them at the expense of everyone else. So, instead of confronting Palin, they invent taboos and try to set up an elite (yet undefined!) coterie that can "participate" in such discussions. Somehow, I don't think Palin will be impressed by this attempt to pull intellectual rank.

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