A Bet For Barone
I have a bet for famed
neoconservative pundit and television personality
Michael Barone. He has a new book out that`s barely
longer than its title:
Hard America, Soft America: Competition vs. Coddling and
the Battle for the Nation`s Future.
In it, Barone comes out
strongly—you`ll be amazed to learn—for
competition and against coddling. He blames
the "Soft" public sector for pampering children, while
the "Hard" private sector plays for keeps and pays for
Although you probably heard these
exact same insights from your grandfather back in 1977,
Barone describes his own book as "stunningly
original"—which suggests that he doesn`t hold
himself to terribly Hard standards.
Barone does seem to grasp that
there`s something contradictory about his
"Life is real! Life is earnest!"
philosophy and his
infatuation with George W. Bush, whose feckless
first 40 years of life were completely cosseted. Barone
seem odd that Bush, whose success in the private sector
was at best mixed, should promote competition and
accountability; perhaps it is because he has gained
satisfaction from his greater success in the Hard
competition of electoral politics and public-sector
This is hardly a good moment for
Barone to trumpet the President`s success in
public-sector governance. Ahmed Chalabi—the convicted
embezzler who hoaxed the Administration into believing
in Saddam Hussein`s Weapons of Mass Destruction—has been
revealed as an Iranian agent.
Even worse, there`s
informed speculation about what I call "The Manchumpian
Candidate" scenario: that Iran`s Vevak intelligence
agency helped Chalabi fabricate WMD evidence in order to
trick Bush into overthrowing the Sunni Saddam, thus
opening up Iraq to long-term domination by Shi`ite Iran.
Granted, unlike certain other
neocons, the FBI is not investigating whether
Barone handed to Chalabi the American secrets that ended
up in Tehran. Barone has simply been one of Chalabi`s
cheerleaders. For example, last July Barone produced a
steaming pile of punditry called "The
Good News Coming from Iraq" based on what
Chalabi told him after a
Dick Cheney speech at the American Enterprise
Institute. (I know that sounds like it`s from
The Onion, but I`m not making it up.) Barone`s
"All this is tremendously encouraging. Many of these
things might have happened earlier had planning not been
conducted on two tracks, by the State Department and the
Defense Department, until George W. Bush ordered January
20 that Defense would be in charge. State planners had
envisioned a very different process, one which would not
have put Iraq on the track toward democracy and the rule
of law. Fortunately, Defense has been able to do that,
with critical help from Chalabi and other Iraqis who
share those goals."
Barone has been also an important
intellectual spokesman for the second half of the Bush
Administration`s peculiar Invade-the-World/
Invite-the-World platform. Barone`s shallow 2001 book,
The New Americans: How the Melting Pot Can Work Again,
reviewed for VDARE.com, constituted about as much
scholarly support as Bush`s obsession with
increasing immigration could muster.
Barone`s particular expertise is
voting patterns, but his amazing knowledge of electoral
arcana is no match for his emotions. As I wrote in
2001, Barone trumpets two contradictory opinions.
The first is his sunny optimism that his beloved
Republican Party will
ultimately triumph: `Demography is moving,
slowly, toward the Bush nation,` he gloated in that
year`s edition of his
Almanac Of American Politics. The second is his
cheerleading for immigration.
How does he attempt to logically
reconcile his two passions? Well, as far as I can tell,
Barone doesn`t even try.
Barone has claimed that the
Hispanic vote will reach eight or nine percent of the
total in the 2004 election. This, he argues, requires
the GOP to cave in on amnesty.
"the total Hispanic
vote grew from 3.6 in 1988 to 4.7 percent in 1996 to 5.4
percent in 2000. It likely will be about six percent or
slightly higher in 2004."
Last week, my forecast received unexpected
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed
Officials, a nonpartisan [!] group representing about
6,000 Hispanic officials, expects a record 7 million
Hispanics to vote in November, or 6.1 percent of the
total electorate, according to its voter projections,
Reuters, May 27, 2004.
contra Barone, there`s still time to
do something about immigration.
inject a little Hard competition into Mr. Barone`s Soft
declare that, in the tradition of the
famous bet between
Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich, I will wager $1,000
that the Hispanic share of the 2004 Presidential
vote—according to the November 2004 Census Bureau
survey—will be closer to my prediction of 6.1 percent
than to Barone`s prediction of 8.5%.
Barone can reach me
[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and