David Broder: Time to Retire

David Broder is in his 80s. His columns have been pretty much irrelevant to both Right and Left for quite some time. But today he came up with a grand plan to unite the country and boost the economy: War with Iran.

What else might affect the economy? The answer is obvious, but its implications are frightening. War and peace influence the economy.

Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.

Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.

I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected. But the nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century. If he can confront this threat and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.

Someone at the Washington Post should have nixed this column before it came out to embarrass Broder and the paper. But maybe WaPo is beyond embarrassing these days.

And, one more time, war does not improve the economy. Big government spending programs to build munitions, ships, plans, and other war stuff improve the economy. Or, we could skip the war and just have big government spending programs building infrastructure, schools, and other stuff. Dean Baker writes,

Sorry Mr. Broder, outside of Fox on 15th the world does not work this way. War affects the economy the same way that other government spending affects the economy. It does not have some mystical impact as Broder seems to think.

If spending on war can provide jobs and lift the economy then so can spending on roads, weatherizing homes, or educating our kids. Yes, that’s right, all the forms of stimulus spending that Broder derided so much because they add to the deficit will increase GDP and generate jobs just like the war that Broder is advocating (which will also add to the deficit).

So, we have two routes to prosperity. We can either build up our phsyical infrastructure and improve the skills and education of our workers or we can go kill Iranians. Broder has made it clear where he stands.

Paul Krugman provides a brief snark. Writing for Foreign Policy, Stephen Walt writes, “I haven’t read such an ill informed and morally bankrupt piece of “analysis” in quite some time (which is saying something).” Blake Hounshell asks, “Has David Broder lost his mind?” And Marc Lynch provides an analysis that argues “Broder’s column is an interesting study in how really dumb ideas bounce around Washington D.C.”

I’ve long thought Broder was overrated as a columnist, but in light of his reputation and stature, I think the Washington Post would be doing him a great kindness to insist he retire soon. Like last week.


In other media news, Andrew Breitbart has struck again with another contrived “caught on tape” accusation. This one is on behalf of Lost Cause Joe Miller, who is about to be defeated in the Alaska senatorial race by either the Democrat or a write-in Republican.

Breitbart claims reporters from an Alaska CBS affiliate somehow accidentally left a message in Joe Miller’s voicemail in which they are plotting against the Miller campaign. Yeah, right. Like anyone needs to plot against the Miller campaign at this point.

15 thoughts on “David Broder: Time to Retire

  1. I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected

    Oh, no?…I guess he’s just suggesting that Obama just place himself in a situation where the threat of war is the only leverage he has to use knowing that the Iranians won’t change their course of action regardless of what Obama does. Kinda boxes Obama into a put up or shut up situation. Guaranteeing a war or a defeat come election time.

    But, hey..Three wars going on simultaneously..I’m down for that.I’m a good American!

  2. Broder seems to be making the laughable error that lots of other conservatives do, in fantasising that Iran is a substantial military threat which would underpin a proper conventional war. In fact the poor devils couldn’t even take out Iraq and the US would eliminate any significant Iranian military capability in a matter of days. The ensuing catastrophe would not be a war but a struggle to subdue and re-make the conquered nation.

    If that kind of anti-insurgency activity could solve economic crises, one wonders how the current problems could ever have arisen with all that stimulative spending that’s been going on in Iraq and Afghanistan for almost a decade now.

  3. Broder should remember a previous time we got involved in Iran’s domestic politics — the election of Mossedegh and our manipulation of the situation to reinstall the Shah. Look at how that turned out…

  4. This is what happens when war becomes an abstraction, and not the total failure of morality and civil interaction.I’m not at all surprised by Broder’s words, he displays the stupidity held by many of his readers.

  5. What a genious! I mean, we’re in such a booming economy still occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, why not? A 3rd war and occupation might mean 100% employment.

    “The Dean” is done! WaPo, please retire him, if he doesn’t go voluntarily.
    Does anyone know if Dr. Kevorkian still makes house calls?

  6. Broder’s column must be the very definition of decadence. There is no way to respect such statements, but I doubt that his idea is original. Someone is probably talking up just such a plan now.

  7. Not apologizing for poor, delusional Mr. Broder but he does have a point, if his point is how Obama can boost his standing in the polls.

    Reagan, on advice from, all people, Britain’s Thatcher, started a ‘War’ against Grenada (referred to as “Operation Urgent Fury”) to improve his standing and it worked. Likewise, Thatcher had started a ‘War’ against the Falkland Islands, which also boosted her numbers.

    Other than that, Mr. Broder needs to update the ‘enemy’. Pakistan, according to military intelligence, is the chosen enemy of the day, Iran’s old news.

  8. Not apologizing for poor, delusional Mr. Broder but he does have a point, if his point is how Obama can boost his standing in the polls.

    In theory yes, but I think George Bush beat that horse to death. I would imagine It’ll take at least a generation to revive the American eagerness to march into a war. We’re beyond hope if Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t teach us a lesson..At least financially.

  9. You know at last count I believe there were less than a hundred Al-Qaeda types in Afghanistan, and our military geniuses over at the pentagon can’t even put that god dam war to bed. So yeah let’s go ahead and start another with a country that actually has a real military, great idea!

  10. “Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II. ”

    Stop right there. (I’ll finish reading the post in a minute.) What finally resolved that economic crisis was a massive influx of government money into the private economy. Any such stimulus (sic) could have had the same effect. One of the problems that dragged the depression on so long was that there was not enough government spending (who else has such a ready supply of capital?) in the thirties. I think Krugman has touched on this in his blog writings.

  11. “I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected.”

    Except that you sort of are . . .

    There are two main problems that I can see with this muddled ‘reasoning’. One, the false economics that several others have mentioned: War is not the only way to improve the economy, and is probably the absolute worst way, given the generations of resentment that ensue. The current state of Iran is a direct result of having violently interfered in internal affairs. Short of all out war, the result is exactly the same. What’s Iraq going to look like in fifty years?

    Which bring me to the second thing that Broder has absolutely wrong: That the short term economy and the next election are the only things that matter. This is republican/tea party thinking (“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”) If they have to kill the country, or the world, to ensure that they win the next election then that’s what they’ll do. This is why the Senate has been deadlocked for the last two years: because the teapublicans are incapable or unwilling to look beyond the next two years, or next Tuesday (Hey! That’s tomorrow!). I suspect it’s the former.

    It’s sad that someone who engages in this kind of sophistry is writing for a major newspaper. Or any newspaper.

  12. War affects the economy the same way that other government spending affects the economy.

    Not quite. A proper war also reduces unemployment by removing excess population from the workforce. Permanently.

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