One of the harshest critics of the Bush administration, economist Paul Krugman, was at it again yesterday in his column in The New York Times. Here is his take on the current state of American politics:

So is the Bush agenda stalled, or is it progressing?

The answer is that the administration is getting nowhere on its grand policy agenda. But it never took policy, as opposed to politics, very seriously anyway. The agenda it has always taken with utmost seriousness – consolidating one-party rule, and rewarding its friends – is moving forward quite nicely.

One of President Bush’s great political talents is his ability to convince people who do care passionately about policy that he is one of them. Foreign-policy neoconservatives believe he shares their vision of a world transformed by American power. Economic conservatives believe he shares their dedication to dismantling the welfare state.

But a serious effort either to transform the world or to dismantle the welfare state would require sacrifices Mr Bush hasn’t been willing to make.

The uncanny thing about this critique is that if you substitute “Howard” for “Bush” you could almost believe it’s been written about Australia – the pork-barrelling, the politicisation of government, the policy shallowness combined with a carefully cultivated impression of depth. So it’s it’s not just us – it must be a more general disease of modern conservatism.

Peter Fray

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