Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is the Administration Winging It?: Obama's reputation for competence is at risk. By Karl Rove


Team Obama demonstrated remarkable discipline during the presidential campaign. From raising an unprecedented amount of money to milking every advantage from the Internet to grabbing lots of delegates from inexpensive caucus states, they left nothing to chance.

And now the administration has scored a major legislative victory in an extraordinarily short period of time. Less than 700 hours after taking the oath of office, President Barack Obama signed the largest spending bill in American history.

Nevertheless, this fast start can't overcome a growing sense the administration is winging it on issues large and small.

Take the vetting of cabinet nominees. Mr. Obama's aides ignored a federal investigation of New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson that started last August for a possible pay-for-play scandal. Mr. Richardson had to withdraw after being named to become secretary of commerce.

The administration treated as inconsequential the failure of its choices for Treasury secretary and White House performance officer, as well as its labor secretary-designate's spouse, to pay taxes. It failed to uncover Tom Daschle's problems with more than $102,943 in previously unpaid taxes, penalties and interest -- and once it did, aides assumed Mr. Daschle would be given a pass.

Team Obama promised Gen. Anthony Zinni he'd be ambassador to Iraq, then cut him loose without explanation. After the Bill Richardson fiasco, it romanced Republican Sen. Judd Gregg for commerce secretary -- then ignored his advice on the stimulus and wouldn't trust him with running the department, moving supervision of the Census into the White House. Mr. Gregg withdrew himself from consideration.

Then there is the stimulus itself. Mr. Obama's economic team met with congressional leaders in December to green light a bill costing up to $850 billion. But they described less than $200 billion of what they wanted in the envelope. In return for outsourcing the bill's drafting to Congress, the administration took on two responsibilities: running polls to advise Hill Democrats on how to sharpen their marketing, and putting the president on the road to sell a bill others wrote.

Team Obama was winging it when it declared the stimulus would "save or create" 2.5 million, then three million, then 3.7 million, and then four million new jobs. These were arbitrary and erratic numbers, and they knew there's no way to count "saved" jobs. Americans, being commonsensical, will focus on Mr. Obama's promise to "create" jobs. It's highly unlikely that more than 180,000 jobs will be created each month by the end of next year. The precise, state-by-state job numbers the administration used to sell the stimulus are likely to come back to haunt them as well.

Bipartisanship? The administration failed even to respond to GOP offers to endorse an Obama campaign proposal to suspend capital gains taxes for new small businesses.

Inexplicably, the president, in a prime-time press conference, raised expectations for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's bank rescue plan, which turned out the next day to be no plan at all. The markets craved details; they got none. When markets cratered, spokesmen didn't acknowledge the administration's poor planning, but blamed the markets.

Team Obama was also winging it on enhanced interrogation of terrorists. First it nullified all the Bush administration's legal authorities before considering what rules it should have in place. When the CIA briefed White House officials on the results obtained from these techniques, the administration backtracked and organized a four-month study of what rules were appropriate.

Something similar happened with the promise to close Guantanamo Bay within a year: The administration has no idea what it will do with the violent terrorists detained there. And on ethics, Mr. Obama proclaimed an end to lobbyist influence in government -- even as he was nominating lobbyists for major posts and filling White House ranks with former lobbyists.

Team Obama has been living off its campaign reputation for planning and execution. That reputation is now frayed, and all the bumbling and unforced errors will have an impact. Such things don't go unnoticed on Capitol Hill or in foreign capitals.

The president, a bright and skilled politician, has plenty of time to recover. The danger is that what we have seen is not an aberration, but the early indications of his governing style. Barack Obama won the job he craved, now he must demonstrate that he and his team are up to its requirements. The signs are worrisome. The world is a dangerous place. The days of winging it need to end.

About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy making process.

Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is now writing a book to be published by Simon & Schuster. Email the author at or visit him on the web at

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ruin Your Health With the Obama Stimulus Plan By Betsy McCaughey


Feb. 9, 2009

Republican Senators are questioning whether President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill contains the right mix of tax breaks and cash infusions to jump-start the economy.

Tragically, no one from either party is objecting to the health provisions slipped in without discussion. These provisions reflect the handiwork of Tom Daschle, until recently the nominee to head the Health and Human Services Department.

Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health. (Page numbers refer to H.R. 1 EH, pdf version).

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far.

New Penalties

Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties.  “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)

What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.

The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.

Elderly Hardest Hit

Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them. That means the elderly will bear the brunt.

Medicare now pays for treatments deemed safe and effective. The stimulus bill would change that and apply a cost-effectiveness standard set by the Federal Council (464).

The Federal Council is modeled after a U.K. board discussed in Daschle’s book. This board approves or rejects treatments using a formula that divides the cost of the treatment by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Treatments for younger patients are more often approved than treatments for diseases that affect the elderly, such as osteoporosis.

In 2006, a U.K. health board decreed that elderly patients with macular degeneration had to wait until they went blind in one eye before they could get a costly new drug to save the other eye. It took almost three years of public protests before the board reversed its decision.

Hidden Provisions

If the Obama administration’s economic stimulus bill passes the Senate in its current form, seniors in the U.S. will face similar rationing. Defenders of the system say that individuals benefit in younger years and sacrifice later.

The stimulus bill will affect every part of health care, from medical and nursing education, to how patients are treated and how much hospitals get paid. The bill allocates more funding for this bureaucracy than for the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air
Force combined (90-92, 174-177, 181).

Hiding health legislation in a stimulus bill is intentional. Daschle supported the Clinton administration’s health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to debate and delay. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.”

More Scrutiny Needed

On Friday, President Obama called it “inexcusable and irresponsible” for senators to delay passing the stimulus bill. In truth, this bill needs more scrutiny.

The health-care industry is the largest employer in the U.S. It produces almost 17 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Yet the bill treats health care the way European governments do: as a cost problem instead of a growth industry. Imagine limiting growth and innovation in the electronics or auto industry during this downturn. This stimulus is dangerous to your health and the economy.

(Betsy McCaughey is former lieutenant governor of New York and is an adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The
opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer of this column: Betsy McCaughey at

Bill nixes hiring checks; Filipino vets, mouse safe By Stephen Dinan

Watch more The Very Best of Prince videos on AOL Video


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Congress has removed the key check on making sure illegal immigrants aren't hired by firms getting money from the economic stimulus package, but left in nearly $200 million in spending for Filipino veterans of World War II.

The bill also sliced funding for parks below what either the House or Senate originally proposed, and left out $246 million that had been slated to help Hollywood produce movies. But negotiators put back in provisions that will allow money to go to museums, stadiums and parks - which critics said means the Las Vegas Mob Museum is again eligible for money.

Those are some of the contentious decisions Democrats made in writing a final compromise bill this week. Democrats rushed the bill through final votes in the House and Senate on Friday, denying lawmakers a chance to digest all the decisions before having to vote on the $787 billion package.

Of that $787 billion in spending and tax cuts, 74.2 percent will be disbursed during the next 18 months, just about accomplishing Mr. Obama's goal of spending 75 percent of the money in that time frame. The bill carves out about $211 billion, or 27 percent, for tax cuts.

Still in the bill is $230 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to be used for "operations, research and facilities," part of which House Republicans said they expect will be used for habitat restoration of the San Francisco Bay Area, including saving the salt marsh harvest mouse. The potential funding was first reported by The Washington Times.

Protecting the mouse has been a pet project of Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, though they did not earmark funds for the project in this bill.

But Republicans called around asking agencies what projects they would be likely to fund with stimulus money, and Republican staffers on the Appropriations Committee said NOAA officials identified the San Francisco Bay Area restoration project as one of its top priorities.

Defending the bill on the House floor, Rep. David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat and Appropriations Committee chairman, challenged the mouse funds claim, arguing that there's no specific reference to the mouse money in the bill and that it's just a potential project.

Mr. Obey, who was the chief spending negotiator for the House team during the reconciliation process with the Senate, disputed other charges by opponents.

"They tell us there is an earmark for high-speed rail. The fact is, there is not. All of the funding in that account is discretionary and will be awarded competitively and the decisions will be made entirely by the Department of Transportation. And the last time I looked, the new Cabinet secretary was a Republican," he said.

He touted the bill's money for the National Institutes of Health, the "Make Work Pay" tax breaks and the aid to states to prevent budget cutbacks. He also mocked opponents who criticized waste: "Those are some of the terrible things this bill does."

Still, with the original House bill at $819 billion and the Senate bill at $838 billion, negotiators had to slash a lot of money to reach the final figure of $787 billion in extra emergency spending over and above the regular appropriations process.

They did not include any money for Pell grants for college students, they reduced money for the Smithsonian to $25 million and they slashed funding for the National Park Service to $750 million. The House had requested $1.8 billion for the parks and the Senate had passed a bill calling for about $800 million.

Dropped earlier in the process were specific line items for contraceptives and for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, though those items could still be funded under other categories of spending.

But the final bill retains a provision that allows nearly $200 million to be spent on Filipino veterans who fought under U.S. command during World War II - two-thirds of whom don't live in the U.S. The money was designated last year but wasn't actually spent because of a dispute over a funding formula. The stimulus bill settles that dispute and spends the money.

Other late decisions added motorcycles and motor homes to the list of vehicles eligible for federal tax breaks, according to the Associated Press.

Like the mouse funds, the Las Vegas Mob Museum is not specifically funded by the bill. But lawmakers said the funds should go to "shovel-ready" projects local officials say can produce jobs - and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman had said a $50 million Mob Museum was a worthy candidate.

The Senate had passed an amendment from Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, that had banned money going to casinos, zoos, golf courses, swimming pools, parks, museums, theaters or highways beautification projects. The final bill retained the ban on gambling establishments, zoos and pools, but removed the prohibition against funding museums, stadiums, arts centers, theaters, parks or highway beautification projects.

"It is ludicrous that politicians in Washington made zero effort to eliminate any wasteful Washington spending to pay for this enormous spending bill," said Mr. Coburn, who regularly demands that pet projects be cut from spending bills.

On the immigration issue, Democrats removed from the final bill a House-adopted provision that would have required those who received money from the stimulus spending bill to check their new employees against E-Verify, the federal government's chief tool to weed illegal immigrants out of the work force.

And the E-Verify program could go dark next month after Democratic leaders also removed a provision that would have extended the program, which more than 100,000 companies have signed up to use. E-Verify needs to be reauthorized by March 6.

"It is a simple matter of accountability. If the goal is to create jobs and stimulate the American economy, then is it too much to ask that the jobs go to U.S. citizens and legal immigrant workers?" said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

Obama is Big on Symbolism By Jack Kelly


February 17, 2009

At the battle of Asculum in 279 BC, the Greek king Pyrrhus defeated a Roman legion, but at frightful cost to his own troops. When sycophantic courtiers congratulated him on his "great victory," Pyrrhus responded: "one more such victory, and we shall be undone."

President Obama plans to celebrate his Asculum -- passage of the (at least) $787 billion "stimulus" bill -- with a signing ceremony in Denver Tuesday. Sycophantic liberal commentators hailed this as a great victory for the president, but it comes at the cost of the illusion Mr. Obama represents a change from the corrupt old ways of Washington.

Candidate Obama promised a new openness in government. But the biggest spending bill ever was drafted behind closed doors. Candidate Obama pledged to weaken the influence of lobbyists. But lobbyists received copies of the "stimulus" bill before lawmakers did. Candidate Obama pledged a bipartisan approach to government. But not a single Republican in the House, and only three in the Senate, voted for it.

Mr. Obama is fond of the appearance of bipartisanship. He nominated three Republicans to his Cabinet. He's dined with conservative columnists, and invited several GOP lawmakers to watch the Super Bowl with him.

But Mr. Obama is like a young man who expects a girl to put out if he buys her a hamburger and a beer. If he were more concerned about the substance of bipartisanship, he'd have insisted upon a stimulus package more Republicans could support, and he wouldn't now be looking for his third nominee for Secretary of Commerce.

Sen. Gregg withdrew, citing "irreconcilable differences" over the stimulus package. The more important reason was because the president had made it clear Sen. Gregg was just to be window dressing. The Commerce secretary has only one important job, to oversee the decennial census. If illegal aliens are counted as citizens, several House seats could be shifted from the Republicans to the Democrats after the next reapportionment. Cheating is the Chicago Way, but Sen. Gregg is both honest and a Republican. He couldn't be counted on to cheat. So the president announced oversight of the census would be shifted to the White House. This is probably illegal, and it made Sen. Gregg look like a chump. So he did the only thing an honorable man could do.

With so many of the president's nominees having to withdraw because of ethical problems, it was refreshing to have one withdraw because he had ethics. But several of the president's courtiers in the news media described Sen. Gregg's resignation, and the paucity of GOP votes for the porkalooza, as evidence of a Republican "war" against Mr. Obama.

"Their clear intent is to do all they can, however they can, to sabotage the new administration," wrote Andrew Sullivan in the Atlantic. Mr. Sullivan and others of his ilk see nothing partisan in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's exclusion of Republicans from the drafting of the stimulus bill; in the president's refusal to make meaningful compromises, or in the transfer of census oversight to the White House.

President Obama is very big on symbolism. He is signing the bill in Denver, the city where he was nominated for president, on Tuesday (in violation of his pledge to have at least five days elapse between passage of a law and his signing of it to allow time for public comment), because Tuesday is four weeks precisely since his inauguration.

Symbolism is important. But presidents ultimately are judged on substance.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Barry Manilow - Billy Joel's Inspiration For 'Big Shot'


Rolling Stone - November 1, 1990

---snip snip---

Here is how he once alienated Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel:

Because life makes no sense, they sat together, the three of them, at a small table in a Philadelphia diner, circa 1974.

Somehow, all three happened to be in town. So they convened, in casual assembly, at the behest of a local DJ named Ed Sciaky, who, with his wife, was also present.

Bruce drank water, acted detached. Billy drank black Russians, acted surly. Barry drank coffee and, to be friendly, made conversation. Much too much conversation, it seems.

"Sciaky reminds me that I made an asshole of myself then," Manilow says.
"Apparently, at one point I said, 'Out of all three of us, just watch, I'm going to be the biggest star at this table.'

"Ed says he winced, and his wife began to gag. I don't remember this, but if I said it at all, it was because, of the three of us, I was making the most blatantly commercial music. I respected their music more than my own and said (cynically), 'Hah! Just watch!' But it just came out wrong, and they never forgot it. To this day, Billy Joel gets pissed off when people mention my name - and I have always been such an incredible fan of his."

No Way To Make Public Policy


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, February 13, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Stimulus: Say this for the $787 billion behemoth that Congress voted on on Friday — never in our history has a more important vote been cast on legislation with so little scrutiny. Couldn't they at least read the thing before voting on it?

Read More: Economy

The 1,434-page bill is, in a word, massive. It's full of details that deserve to be given a close look before anyone votes. As the old saying goes, the devil's in the details — and if you can't look at the details, you might just end up with the devil.

The bill that President Obama called "the largest change in domestic policy since the 1930s" was jammed down Congress' throat, breaking almost all the promises of bipartisanship and transparency along the way.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed to give members of Congress at least 48 hours to look at the historic legislation before them.

After all, the bill will spend the equivalent of nearly 9% of our GDP while adding $1.2 trillion to our national debt. Obama vows to "create or save" 3.5 million jobs at a cost of $263,000 per job.

Shouldn't it get even a little bit of scrutiny?

Apparently not. The bill went on line sometime early Friday morning, not too long before passing 246-183 with not a single Republican vote and seven Democrats voting against it.

So much for a "bipartisan" plan, another promise broken.

In the House at least, there wasn't even the pretense of bipartisanship. The Democrats drafted their bill with no input from the Republicans.

In the Senate, Democrats found three Republicans — Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine (pop. 1.3 million), and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania — to give them bipartisan cover and to provide a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority.

Even more obscene was the undue haste with which Congress voted on this bill as it was still coming together late last week. As House GOP leader John Boehner noted on the floor, "not one (House) member has read this bill."

That was by design. Pelosi was keen to leave town on a weeklong recess, and she didn't want to have to wait for a little thing like debate over the largest spending bill ever passed.

Nor is it a partisan issue. As Missouri Democrat Emanuel Cleaver said, "Regardless of party, we all cast our votes with one hand and crossed our fingers with the other."

Is this any way to pass a so-called stimulus package?

Even worse, as U.S. News and World Report has noted, lobbyists — not members of Congress — got the first shot at suggesting changes to the measure.

The newsweekly's Paul Bedard said "one key Democratic staffer" e-mailed him the following: "K Street (Washington's lobbyists' row) has the bill, or chunks of it already, and the congressional offices don't."

This was Thursday night, on the eve of the vote. And remember, Congress had voted to put the bill online for at least 48 hours before it took action. Not until Friday morning, however, did it hit the Web. All a lie.

Why the haste? Surely one reason is the bill is stuffed with pork and short of real stimulus. Its authors don't want the details out. They shouldn't be surprised, then, when voters bridle at what they've been saddled with.

Another reason seems to be that lawmakers had pressing business overseas during this week's recess, and really didn't want to stick around Washington.

In Pelosi's case, she and several other Democrats were due to leave Friday evening for an eight-day tour of Europe, including Rome. We wouldn't want to get in the way of her travel plans, would we?

In this month of celebrating the bicentennial of President Lincoln's birth, we can't help recalling his prayerful hope at Gettysburg — that "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

This bill pretty much inverts Lincoln's ringing words. In this sorry episode at least, it was "government of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists, for the lobbyists." In other words, real disgrace.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bush Hatred and Obama Euphoria Are Two Sides of the Same Coin By Peter Berkowitz


JANUARY 31, 2009

Now that George W. Bush has left the harsh glare of the White House and Barack Obama has settled into the highest office in the land, it might be reasonable to suppose that Bush hatred and Obama euphoria will begin to subside. Unfortunately, there is good reason to doubt that the common sources that have nourished these dangerous political passions will soon lose their potency.

At first glance, Bush hatred and Obama euphoria could not be more different. Hatred of Mr. Bush went well beyond the partisan broadsides typical of democratic politics. For years it disfigured its victims with open, indeed proud, loathing for the very manner in which Mr. Bush walked and talked. It compelled them to denounce the president and his policies as not merely foolish or wrong or contrary to the national interest, but as anathema to everything that made America great.

In contrast, the euphoria surrounding Mr. Obama's run for president conferred upon the candidate immunity from criticism despite his newness to national politics and lack of executive experience, and regardless of how empty his calls for change. At the same time, it inspired those in its grips, repeatedly bringing them tears of joy throughout the long election season. With Mr. Obama's victory in November and his inauguration last week, it suffused them with a sense that not only had the promise of America at last been redeemed but that the world could now be transfigured.

In fact, Bush hatred and Obama euphoria -- which tend to reveal more about those who feel them than the men at which they are directed -- are opposite sides of the same coin. Both represent the triumph of passion over reason. Both are intolerant of dissent. Those wallowing in Bush hatred and those reveling in Obama euphoria frequently regard those who do not share their passion as contemptible and beyond the reach of civilized discussion. Bush hatred and Obama euphoria typically coexist in the same soul. And it is disproportionately members of the intellectual and political class in whose souls they flourish.

To be sure, democratic debate has always been a messy affair in which passion threatens to overwhelm reason. So long as citizens remain free and endowed with a diversity of interests and talents, it will remain so.

In October 1787, amid economic crisis and widespread fears about the new nation's ability to defend itself, Alexander Hamilton, in the first installment of what was to become the Federalist Papers, surveyed the formidable obstacles to giving the newly crafted Constitution a fair hearing. Some would oppose it, Hamilton observed, out of fear that ratification would diminish their wealth and power. Others would reject it because they hoped to profit from the political disarray that would ensue. The opposition of still others was rooted in "the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived jealousies and fears."

Indeed, the best of men, Hamilton acknowledged, were themselves all-too-vulnerable to forming ill-considered political opinions: "So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes, which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions, of the first magnitude to society."

In surveying the impediments to bringing reason to bear in politics, it was not Hamilton's aim to encourage despair over democracy's prospects but to refine political expectations. "This circumstance, if duly attended to," he counseled, "would furnish a lesson of moderation to those, who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right, in any controversy."

As Hamilton would have supposed, the susceptibility of political judgment to corruption by interest and ambition is as operative in our time as it was in his. What has changed is that those who, by virtue of their education and professional training, would have once been the first to grasp Hamilton's lesson of moderation are today the leading fomenters of immoderation.

Bush hatred and Obama euphoria are particularly toxic because they thrive in and have been promoted by the news media, whose professional responsibility, it has long been thought, is to gather the facts and analyze their significance, and by the academy, whose scholarly training, it is commonly assumed, reflects an aptitude for and dedication to systematic study and impartial inquiry.

From the avalanche of vehement and ignorant attacks on Bush v. Gore and the oft-made and oft-refuted allegation that the Bush administration lied about WMD in Iraq, to the remarkable lack of interest in Mr. Obama's career in Illinois politics and the determined indifference to his wrongness about the surge, wide swaths of the media and the academy have concentrated on stoking passions rather than appealing to reason.

Some will speculate that the outbreak of hatred and euphoria in our politics is the result of the transformation of left-liberalism into a religion, its promulgation as dogma by our universities, and students' absorption of their professors' lesson of immoderation. This is unfair to religion.

At least it's unfair to those forms of biblical faith that teach that God's ways are hidden and mysterious, that all human beings are both deserving of respect and inherently flawed, and that it is idolatry to invest things of this world -- certainly the goods that can be achieved through politics -- with absolute value. Through these teachings, biblical faith encourages skepticism about grand claims to moral and political authority and an appreciation of the limits of one's knowledge, both of which well serve liberal democracy.

In contrast, by assembling and maintaining faculties that think alike about politics and think alike that the university curriculum must instill correct political opinions, our universities cultivate intellectual conformity and discourage the exercise of reason in public life. It is not that our universities invest the fundamental principles of liberalism with religious meaning -- after all the Declaration of Independence identifies a religious root of our freedom and equality. Rather, they infuse a certain progressive interpretation of our freedom and equality with sacred significance, zealously requiring not only outward obedience to its policy dictates but inner persuasion of the heart and mind. This transforms dissenters into apostates or heretics, and leaders into redeemers.

Consequently, though Bush hatred may weaken as the 43rd president minds his business back home in Texas, and while Obama euphoria may fade as the 44th president is compelled to immerse himself in the daunting ambiguities of power, our universities will continue to educate students to believe that hatred and euphoria reflect political wisdom. Urgent though the problem is, not even the efficient and responsible spending of a $1 trillion stimulus package would begin to address it.

Mr. Berkowitz is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.