Thursday, October 09, 2008


Sundown tonight concluded the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, and from all appearances, I was fully partaking in the festivities. At 2:00 this afternoon, I gave a talk about Moses the Heretic during the break between the Musaf and Afternoon services, and this allowed me to talk at length about justice, peace and truth. But in the back of my mind, I was thinking about slime.

You see, not long after my talk was over, I skipped the Afternoon service and headed home to join my wife. She spent most of the day dealing with the consequences of a blockage to our sewer line. By four o’clock, it was my turn. The basement was disgusting. Then again, I should have recognized the dreck. It was very reminiscent of the crap that I’ve heard over the airwaves recently from John McCain and his minions.

I don’t have much time to post before I head out for a wedding in California. So let me cut to the chase. The McCain campaign’s efforts to link Barack Obama with a known terrorist aren’t just slimy, they’re pathetic. From what I can tell, William Ayers was a terrorist when Barack was eight years old, but by the time Barack came to know the man (and not especially well at that), Ayers was a professor. And he has since come to be awarded for his citizenship by the city of Chicago.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Barack Obama isn’t a Muslim, and he isn’t a Jew. He’s a Christian. As such, he associates himself with a religious tradition that, perhaps more visibly than any other faith, extols the possibility of redemption. Well, I don’t know about you, but the life of William Ayers sure seems like a classic case of redemption to me. It would have been odd for Obama, as a Christian, to refuse to treat the man with respect given the extent to which Ayers appears to have given up violence in exchange for scholarship and charity.

Let’s assume that I’m wrong, though. Let’s assume that Bill Ayers’ association with Barack Obama truly was a legitimate issue – the kind of issue that should make us question Barack’s qualifications for President. That certainly seems to be the position of Sarah Palin. If that’s the case, then why didn’t John McCain have the stones to raise the Ayers issue during the recent debate? Not once did he mention the name Ayers. Nor did he mention any of Barack’s other associations with unpatriotic individuals. McCain left that to the rants of his lieutenants, and the fascistic types who attend their rallies and spew unspeakable comments. During the debate, McCain was all substance.

I guess it’s pretty obvious what’s going on. Perhaps because McCain was all substance, Barack was too, and the general consensus is that Barack either tied or won. Some say he won handily. But frankly, even a tie for Barack wasn’t exactly what McCain needed. He needs a game changer. He won’t find one on the issues. So, as I discussed in my last blog, he’s apparently resorting to slime … though only in situations where Barack isn’t given a chance to defend himself.

Are you watching this, America? It sure looks to me like the implosion of a once-beloved politician. My only question is whether members of his party – not just journalists, but other politicians – will start to say enough is enough. Do you want irony? It was Joe Lieberman, McCain’s dear friend, who finally (and thankfully, from my perspective) blew the whistle on William Jefferson Clinton from the Democratic side of the aisle. Now, we need a Lieberman-like figure on the GOP side to call out McCain for his chicken-shit brand of slime. If that doesn’t happen, the voters won’t just blame McCain/Palin. They’ll blame ALL the Republicans, and if that happens, the dreaded 60 votes in the Senate may not be out of the question.

Stay tuned.


YoungMan said...

Oh Waaaaaaaaaah

No one can criticize Saint Barack. How right thinking and progressively redstributionist of u Danny. He's sooooooooooo pure.
You are reverting into your cultism of the spring.

Snap out of it

BTW...if u do get 60 votes, your people will set the seeds for your implosion and wilderness just like u did the last 1964. Pelosi-Reid-Obama. HARDEHAR.

Unless we change the Constitution to have everyone vote in minority caucuses (how he one by process not votes), he (if he wins) lasts a term if hes lucky.

Daniel Spiro said...


I congratulate you for getting your dig in just in time before I take off for the coast. I'm actually going to a single sex wedding (nobody you know), the legality of which Barack opposes. There's one regard in which he falls short as a politician -- though I'm confident that his heart is in the right place on the issue, and if he thought that he could get away with it politically, he'd make those weddings legal.

In any event, I'm really not saying Barack is a saint. I'm only criticizing one specific argument made against him -- that he associates with terrorists. As we say in law, the "prejudicial impact" of that argument clearly exceeds its "probative value." The potential probative value of the Jeremiah Wright criticisms I at least can understand. I can't even fathom any such value when it comes to the Ayers drivel.

Nobody I know thinks Barack is the ideal politician in all respects. But I'm far from alone in believing that he's the best we've seen in some time, and our nation desperately needs to rally around him. If the GOP rank and file want to treat him like an impostor from the start, we'll all pay the price.

Sometimes, there are more important things at stake than partisan politics. Believe it or not, when I called for 60 votes, all I'm really calling for is the end to gridlock. It's not compromise I'm objecting to so much as government paralysis.

YoungMan said...


Id argue that as much as half of the current decline in the market is due to the worlds fear that it is likely that we are going to be led by a weak nuanced indecisive progressive redistributionist community organizer who seeks to cripple business with regulation and taxes.

YoungMan said...

Oh Dan,

Before I forget. Put a Yes on Prop 8. button on your flannel shirt when you show up at the wedding,


Daniel Spiro said...


You're in rare form this week.

The wedding was great, by the way. Very moving.

But I do regret that I missed the Stanford game.

YoungMan said...

Why your candidate will be a disaster, and why it will lead to a Republican Resurgence

Big Government Ahead

By the time the recession is in full force, Democrats will probably be running the government. Barack Obama will probably be in the White House. Democrats will have a comfortable majority in the House and will control between 56 and 60 seats in the Senate.

The party will inherit big deficits. David Leonhardt, my colleague at The Times, estimates that the deficit will sit at around $750 billion next year, or five percent of G.D.P. Democrats had promised to pay for new spending with compensatory cuts, but the economic crisis will dissolve pay-as-you-go vows. New federal spending will come in four streams.

First, there will be the bailouts. Once upon a time, there were concerns about moral hazard. But resistance to corporate bailouts is gone. If Bear Stearns and A.I.G. can get bailouts, then so can car companies, airlines and other corporations with direct links to Main Street.

Second, there will be more stimulus packages. The first stimulus package, passed early this year, was a failure because people spent only 10 percent to 20 percent of the rebate dollars and saved the rest. Martin Feldstein of Harvard calculates the package added $80 billion to the national debt while producing less than $20 billion in consumer spending.

Nonetheless, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promises another package, and it will pass.

Third, we’re in for a Keynesian renaissance. The Fed has little room to stimulate the economy, so Democrats will use government outlays to boost consumption. Nouriel Roubini of New York University argues that the economy will need a $300 billion fiscal stimulus.

Obama has already promised a clean energy/jobs program that would cost $150 billion over 10 years. He’s vowed $60 billion in infrastructure spending over the same period. He promises a range of tax credits — $4,000 a year for college tuition, up to $3,000 for child care, $7,000 for a clean car, a mortgage tax credit.

Fourth, there will be tax cuts. On Monday, Obama promised new tax subsidies to small business, which could cost tens of billions. That’s on top of his promise to cut taxes for 95 percent of American households. His tax plans aren’t as irresponsible as John McCain’s, but the Tax Policy Center still says they would reduce revenues by $2.8 trillion over the next decade.

Finally, there will be a health care plan. In 1960, health care consumed 5 percent of G.D.P. By 2025, it will consume 25 percent. In the face of these rising costs, Obama will spend billions more to widen coverage. Obama’s plan has many virtues, but the cost-saving measures are chimerical.

When you add it all up, we’re not talking about a deficit that is 5 percent of G.D.P., but something much, much, much larger.

The new situation will reopen old rifts in the Democratic Party. One the one side, liberals will argue (are already arguing) that it was deregulation and trickle-down economic policies that led us to this crisis. Fears of fiscal insolvency are overblown. Democrats should use their control of government and the economic crisis as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make some overdue changes. Liberals will make a full-bore push for European-style economic policies.

On the other hand, the remaining moderates will argue that it was excess and debt that created this economic crisis. They will argue (are arguing) that it is perfectly legitimate to increase the deficit with stimulus programs during a recession, but that these programs need to be carefully targeted and should sunset as the crisis passes. The moderates will stress that the country still faces a ruinous insolvency crisis caused by entitlement burdens.

Obama will try to straddle the two camps — he seems to sympathize with both sides — but the liberals will win. Over the past decade, liberals have mounted a campaign against Robert Rubin-style economic policies, and they control the Congressional power centers. Even if he’s so inclined, it’s difficult for a president to overrule the committee chairmen of his own party. It is more difficult to do that when the president is a Washington novice and the chairmen are skilled political hands. It is most difficult when the president has no record of confronting his own party elders. It’s completely impossible when the economy is in a steep recession, and an air of economic crisis pervades the nation.

What we’re going to see, in short, is the Gingrich revolution in reverse and on steroids. There will be a big increase in spending and deficits. In normal times, moderates could have restrained the zeal on the left. In an economic crisis, not a chance. The over-reach is coming. The backlash is next.

He's weak, a nuanced vacillator who has stood up to no one. If he can't stand up to the liberals in Congress, how should we expect him to standup to the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, etc.

Bush may be bad, McCain may not be great, but your guy is going to be an unmitigated disaster because he's going to keep giving into the Congress. The difference between Carter, Clinton and Obama is that there will be no check on either him or Congress.

The next 4-8 years will be very ugly, but uglier still because it's Obama. 4 years at the most, and a Republican Congress by 2012. The backlash will be bigger than the change.

Daniel Spiro said...


If you want the new Government to implement moderate ideas, the best thing is to jump on the "unity" bandwagon and form a coalition with the moderate Democrats. Believe it or not, I'm not a socialist and wouldn't support huge government either. But what I support even less are Republicans who want to shout down every Democrat's efforts to move the country in a liberal direction by, among other things, ad hominem attacks.

Likely, Barack Obama is going to be your President. You can either support him from the day he's elected -- and try to serve as a moderate part of his coalition -- or take him on from the beginning. He'll make mistakes, particularly at the outset of his administration. They all do. But if conservatives give him a legitimate chance to grow into the job, I think they'll find him a legitimate unifying force and a marvelous President.

Naveen said...

Hi Mr. Spiro (do people still call you Rudy?),

I don't know if you'll remember me, but I'm Naveen, one of your students from Rockville High School circa 1993. I'm a (struggling) playwright in New York now and I came across your book at The Strand Bookstore! I wondered could Daniel Spiro be Mr. Spiro? And you are!

Great to find your blog, it is fascinating to read, and I appreciate your intelligent, thoughtful commentary. Since I'm here, I also want to say thank you for being a great teacher so many years ago -- I can say now as an adult that I'm glad I had a teacher who encouraged us to be open-minded and taught us to question everything, look at everything from multiple points of view, and to challenge the status quo. I know you weren't at RHS for very long, but you definitely made an impression on many of us!

Now, regarding Barack Obama, I saw this article on and thought it might be of interest to you and your readers, it's a commentary piece by Campbell Brown, "So what if Obama were a Muslim or an Arab?":

All for now. Looking forward to reading your books!

Here's to THAT One!


Daniel Spiro said...


It is AWESOME hearing from one of my former students. I'll definitely check out the link you provided. And if you have a facebook or myspace page, let me know what it is (I won't publish it, unless you want me to.).

Say hi to any of your old classmates who might remember me. I wonder what's happened to everyone -- students and teachers. It has been a while.