I thought Paul Krugman's critique of the Charles Murray book was dead on. Krguman sees an attempt of the right to switch the debate from economics, which have essentially gutted the prospects of the working class, to a fictional crisis of morality, and then to shift blame for the decline of morality on liberals, the Sixties, and the host of usual suspects.

I am interested to see how the Murray attempt to change the terms of debate plays out in this political year. First the Tea Party discovered an intense love of limited government and fiscal conservatism which had, astoundingly, somehow remained dormant during the profligate Bush years. For a time, the cultural war was eclipsed by the Tea party's clothing of a kernel of race war against what they believed Obama represented within the rethoric of orginalism. Sure, there was still the Palinesque language of "real America" but it was linked much more to questions of government power more than to critiques of morality.

Now Occupy has changed the debate quite thoroughly to deep questions on the distribution of wealth, with indications that the spring is bringing continued energy and growth in this way. The Tea Party wing of the Republican party seems to have lost some direction as it sows its damage internally.

But what to do when the attention turns back out with what Murray is sketching as a ravaged "real America". The more he details the decline, no matter what the supposed source, the less the "real America" language resonates and contrasts with everybody else. If the real Americans are so easily made unreal, what does this mean? Palin's own family is a case in point, where teen pregnancy and out of wedlock birth were only rendered moot in economic impact by Palin's own celebrity status and instant wealth. What is a demagogue to do?


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