The Rebuttal That Wasn't Wins The Day

What are words for, when no one listens anymore?

~ Missing Persons

On this just past March 3rd, in a column she wrote in response to John Kerry's crocodile tears over spilt TARP money, Bloomberg's Caroline Baum did what she always does — she made me laugh. Unlike far too many of her fellow professionals, though, she wants me to laugh at her columns, which mostly cover our not so good American political economy. A combination of uncommon sense and an inability to know when to pull her punches makes certain of her pieces stand out like a raised middle finger, held high enough so that her target notices.

The above-mentioned March 3rd column, John Kerry Is Last Guy You Want Helping Banks, made Mr. Kerry notice — and he actually responded with a column of his own on March 6th. Truth be told, in a Congress notorious for not bothering to read any of the laws they flippantly impose, I was initially relieved to think I'd found an actual Congressmen capable of the act, but my relief proved short-lived.

Now having read his shambles of a rebuttal I doubt he even read her column, as he didn't answer a single one of Ms. Baum's charges. In a sane world, he would have been better off not writing the thing in the first place; all he did was produce an effort that would net him a D– if turned in to your average high school economics teacher and give proof that he is not the swiftest boat on the sea.

There is an old saying "rather be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it" and, provoked by Ms. Baum, our grandee of the Senate just had to go and prove it.

Typing in Oblivion

Father McKenzie, writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear.

~ The Beatles

Ms. Baum accused Mr. Kerry of three things, the main being that John Kerry — a run-of-the-mill socialist rife with the compulsion to "plan" innate to the species — has absolutely no experience outside of government employment and is ignorant regarding how to run a business, let alone an entire economy, and therefore should not be passing any legislation at all regarding the matter.

While some might argue that his membership on the Senate Finance Committee would answer the charge, it's well known that august body is designed to teach its members much about feathering their nests and nothing of economics or marketing – even Mr. Kerry wisely saves himself from ridicule and never pretends otherwise, not even mentioning the posting. Actually, he never mentions any of Caroline Baum's accusations at all.

Second, she accuses him of not understanding the function of marketing to the survival of a business. Private companies need to constantly hustle for new clients, and to keep new ones. "Social outings foster business relationships," she notes. Yet, when John Kerry insists that "normal marketing" wouldn't be effected one iota, what he means by that is anyone's guess, including Mr. Kerry's, as he never bothers to explain what "normal" is.

Lastly, pointing out his sputtering indignation over a TARP-stuffed finance company's un-normal (to him) hiring of Earth, Wind, and Fire for a client event, Ms. Baum notes "I don't recall much outrage when the R&B band entertained the nation's governors at the White House a few days later. And President Obama's guests didn't exactly dine on mac 'n cheese."

John Kerry called the finance company's hiring of the band "an idiotic abuse of taxpayer money while our country is on the brink"; how does he feel about Obama hiring the same band for his taxpayer-funded shindig? Naturally, Mr. Kerry doesn't touch that one with a ten-foot pole.

As a taxpayer forced to invest in these insolvent companies, she invokes her right to speak up and points out "Kerry has spent his entire life working for the government" and she'd rather have the CEOs calling the shots as to the marketing budget, and that while a failed firm should have new management, "John Kerry is not what taxpayers had in mind."

I agree with Ms. Baum that he has neither the experience nor the training to develop any rational thoughts regarding economics, and in case you think me cruel: at the end of his rebuttal's fifth paragraph, John Kerry insists that all that taxpayer money his bankers friends are giving out to Earth, Wind, and Fire or otherwise wasting "should be focused on easing the credit crisis by increasing lending."

Now having established his plan for the banks to issue more debt, that being the Road Back To Recovery, five paragraphs later he forgets all about increasing lending because "household debt-to-income levels are at historic highs," and that's a D– plan if I ever saw one.

Yet sadly, in a nation where men such as John Kerry are taken seriously and the opinion of people who are patently clueless garner respect, where President Obama can assert without laughter that his actions have been "entirely consistent with free-market principles," and where rebuttals don't even have to rebut, Caroline Baum and all those who argue for free markets can type madly until Judgment Day comes and it won't make this Titanic change course.

John Kerry's ideas and actions are as American mainstream and apple pie as it gets; he holds to views as popular as they are foolish, we live under a collective illusion so deep-baked into our intellectual DNA as to be impervious to any logic, unconquerable by anything less than the harsh experience of economic catastrophe.

So while she may be correct and her accusations remain standing tall, Mr. Kerry wins the day, he better understands that we live in a world where you don't need to refute your opponent but can simply ignore them into oblivion, you can just stand back and watch them go under in a wave of popular madness, secure that democracy will advance what rational argument cannot.

Mr. Kerry's refusal to answer the charges combined with a "plan" that can't stay on track for more than five paragraphs doesn't matter; he easily bests Caroline Baum here. The race does not always go to the swift, and the sanity of Caroline Baum is but a drop of rain falling into the vast madness of America's ocean.

March 9, 2009