John Fund, one of America's best political analysts, is a 52-year-old columnist for OpinionJournal.com, The Wall Street Journal's website. Here are excerpts from a November interview.
Q: You went to school in the San Francisco suburbs? I have never lived in a ZIP code where very many people agreed with me.
Q: Why did you go into journalism? I was working at the California state legislature as a budget analyst, and I was very frustrated with my ability to affect events.
Q: Why spend life analyzing how many peanuts the elephant is eating when you can enjoy watching the elephants? And enjoy keeping the elephants and the donkeys honest.
Q: Turning to them: What were the key Obama victories this year? He got a stimulus package through. He thought it was a big victory; his economic advisors said in January, "If you pass this stimulus package, I guarantee you unemployment will not go over 8 percent."
Q: It's now over 10 percent. The stimulus package was a Pyrrhic victory, one that comes at so high a cost you probably didn't want it.
Q: Other victories? The rest of the world thinks the United States is less of a bully and is less assertive and aggressive. How's that working for us? North Korea's still building nuclear weapons, Iran is still building nuclear weapons, and Hugo Chavez is still undermining Latin American countries. Our enemies may think that we're not as mean as we used to be, but they're not changing their behavior as a result of that, and our allies don't seem to be showing any more respect for us in terms of actual policy than they did in the past.
Q: Were the New Jersey and Virginia elections a referendum on Obama? Barack Obama went into Virginia three times for the Democratic candidate. He raised lots of money for him. He went into New Jersey three times. On Sunday before the election, the president of the United States spent the entire day in New Jersey. That had never happened before, that a president spends an entire day with a statewide candidate in a close race.
Q: The White House said the elections were so meaningless that the president wasn't even watching the returns on television. A technically accurate statement: Of course he wasn't watching the returns on television. He was watching them on the internet.
Q: You're not one who says, "In Obama we trust"? The president in the campaign last year said, "If you make less than $250,000, I will not raise your taxes one thin dime." He was being technically accurate; he will raise them millions of dimes.
Q: And besides, he can't raise taxes, only Congress can do that. There's a great essay by George Orwell called, "Politics and the English Language"-how politics subverts the English language and hollows it out.
Q: If Obama and his associates had first tried to push through healthcare instead of the stimulus, would they have succeeded? No, because it couldn't be the first effort out of the chute. They had to do something to address the economic crisis. And the stimulus package really wasn't stimulus, it was giant pork-barrel spending, the bribe you had to give Congress in order to get them to try to pass other things. So first the bribe, and then you try to collect on the bribe, and say, "I gave you all this stimulus money for your district, all these earmarks and pork-barrel projects; now you've got to help me out." Well, the House did pass cap and trade; the Senate is apparently going to kill it. We haven't gotten card check, which would be the end of secret union elections. I don't think we're going to see a healthcare bill this year. I don't see the successes.
Q: So you're saying that some congressmen who accepted the bribe may be so unethical that they won't actually vote the way they were bribed to vote? Members of Congress cannot be bought. They can only be rented.