April 11, 2006
I avoid name calling, but we have to face up to what just happened in Italy: A coalition led by former communists, many of whom probably never really changed their ways, just defeated incumbent conservative prime minister Berlusconi by a tiny margin. Romano Prodi served as prime minister in the mid-1990s (see Foreign leaders page), in the wake of an avalanche of scandals that shook the very foundations of Italy's political establishment. Prodi has a somewhat more responsible reputation than his successor, Massimo D'Alema, who was strongly Marxist. Recounts are still possible in this election, and Berlusconi has not yet conceded. See BBC. I don't see any signs that this result signifies anything in terms of popular preferences on policy, I just think there is a general malaise in Europe and much of the Western world, and people just want a change of leadership. Berlusconi is a controversial figures whose government was enmeshed in some scandals, though nothing on the scale of the early 1990s. Italian troops are due to withdraw from Iraq over the next several months in any case, so a new government would have little effect on that.
The two parties are blaming each other for the collapse of the compromise in the Senate last Friday (see Washington Post), but I draw a somewhat different lesson. Ordinarily, the Senate is supposed to function as a moderating influence, forcing lengthy deliberation and consensus building, as opposed to the upstart House, where the majority tends to run roughshod. In some circumstances when major reforms are called for, however, the centrist approach is not appropriate. That is precisely the situation we are in now. Senate leaders need to listen to their constituents, think hard, and act!
Democrats playing politics on an issue of vital national importance? Perish the thought! Marc Cooper writes in blunt, unflattering terms about the role of electoral calculations in the Democrats' stance on immigration. (via Instapundit)
UPDATE: The Dems' rising multicultural star Barak Obama has long been curiously silent about immigration, fearing that if he says anything it might break up the African-American-Latino coalition, according to Robert Klein Engler. (Hat tip to Chris Green, who also reminds us about the Jesse Jackson's anger at President Fox for his racist remarks.) Then there's those insulting Mexican postage stamps. [link added]