WASHINGTON -- Did you catch Sen. Harry Reid's reaction to President George W. Bush's replacement of Chief of Staff Andy Card with Budget Director Joshua Bolten? Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, called Bolten a "failure." It could have been worse. He might have inveighed against Bolten's terrible temper. In fact, the Democrats still might sound the alarm over reports of Bolten's terrible temper.
Reid called Bolten a failure the same day that the Conference Board's consumer index showed consumer confidence climbing to a near four-year high. Obviously consumers know whereof they speak. The stock market is rising. Growth continues at a healthy pace. Unemployment is down. Inflation is low. Even the deficit as a percentage of the GDP is receding. It took consumers a while to penetrate the Democrats' balderdash, but now they recognize what they might have been recognizing for the last five years. In America things are good, and the economy is getting better.
Yet, for grumpy Harry and the dismal Democrats, Bolten is a failure. I would not be surprised to hear them raise the specter of a new Republican conspiracy. Harry could warn that the Bush Administration has come under the spell of "Boltenism." There is Josh Bolten roaming the White House, shouting at aides. And there is another Bolten terrorizing the United Nations, the shocking Ambassador John R. Bolton. His temper is a matter of world history. The Democratic leadership will not be fooled by the Boltens' exchange of vowels. Will we soon see Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton appearing on the "Today" show urging the media to look into this proliferation of a "Vast Bolten Conspiracy"? I would not rule it out. She has made similarly bizarre utterances, and many in the media have fallen for it. Expect Al Franken on Air America to excite his audience against Boltenism, if there still is an Air America.
Air America is the liberal talk radio network that sprang up a couple of years back to replace Rush Limbaugh and his co-conspirators in right-wing talk radio. It has not fared very well, but then neither has the liberal wing of the Democratic Party when it has faced the public in a two-way race. The "Angry Left" is Senator Reid's contemporary version of the New Deal. It has yet to contribute anything to the commonweal other than ignorance and hysteria.
I recently encountered the Angry Left myself while appearing on C-Span's "Washington Journal." There I got not one call-in from a liberal Democrat who was not, frankly, out of his mind. One caller urged the murder of the President and the Vice President. Another sounded like Harry and Hillary, insisting that America is the victim of a right-wing conspiracy. Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform was mentioned as one of the culprits. It is all very amusing to those of us who can still have a good laugh over politics.
Listening to the liberals' irrational outbursts again puts me in mind of a truth I discovered in the late 1990s, to wit: More than being about interests, ideas, or principles, politics is for many a matter of mental illness. It is about the need of many politically-minded people to have enemies. Senator Reid reminds us that Josh Bolten is his enemy and John Bolton, too. Boltenism could be the New McCarthyism.
So much for the grumpy Senator's appraisal of Bolten's replacement of Andy Card. The move reminded me of a memo President Ronald Reagan received early in his second term from former President Richard Nixon. The former president was advising him on how to avoid a problem every second term president encounters, namely how to avoid being a lame duck. Nixon believed an important way to avoid the problem is to effect a personnel change on the staff. The selfless Card was tired. It was a good time for him to take a break. Bolten is relatively fresh and with his knowledge of the budget he might be helpful to his boss in a key area necessary to shore up his base for the autumn elections, excessive federal spending.
The spendthrifts on Capitol Hill have been spending madly since the first year of the Bush administration. It is time this stopped. Republicans have been as extravagant as Democrats. Perhaps this fellow Bolten can put the arm on the Republicans or at least encourage the President to veto some of the prodigality. There may be hope for Boltenism after all.