What Fresh Hell Is This?

December 21, 2008

Jack Kelly Sunday

I'm not sure what to write about Jack Kelly's column this week as I am not really sure what it's about. He starts with an abrupt turn into 20th century history. In all honestly, at this point I'm not sure what's going with the Nazi reference:

As the economy worsens, the attention of Americans is drawn inward. So this is a good time to remember that if it hadn't been for the Great Depression, Adolf Hitler never would have become ruler of Germany.

In the German parliamentary elections of 1928, the Nazis won less than 3 percent of the vote, and just 12 of the 608 seats in the Reichstag.

After the U.S. stock market crashed in 1929, our government called in the loans it had made to Germany, throwing Germany into depression. Unemployment there rose from 1.5 million (10 percent) in 1928 to 5.5 million (30.1 percent) in 1932.

Hard economic times radicalized the German electorate. The Nazis won 230 seats in the Reichstag in the election of July 1932, nearly a hundred seats more than the second-largest party.

Huh? I'm not very smart so I may be missing the significance of the above. Nazism is bad, the Depression was bad and the latter contributed to the rise of the former. I get it. But why plunk that history story at the beginning of this column? That's the part I don't get.

Anyway, Jack continues:
Though the U.S. economy has suffered serious harm, our competitive position in the world actually has improved, because most other nations are suffering more than we are, wrote Ricardo Hausmann, director of Harvard's Center for International Development, in Britain's Financial Times Monday.

"The financial meltdown has translated into a sudden stop in capital flows to emerging and developing countries, which threatens to destabilize their growth, their financial systems and their government accounts," Mr. Hausmann said.

Well hip hip horray! Things are worse elsewhere! I am sure that's great news for the 10.3 million unemployed or the 28 million on foodstamps.

But this is where things get confusing. The rest of Jack's column is about the financial damage being felt across the globe. For instance:
The collapse of oil prices is having a devastating impact on our enemies in Iran and Venezuela, and our sometimes enemies in Russia.
And so on.

I think I found my way through Jack's rhetoric. Jack's point, I think, is that we should really sbe tempering our schadenfreude because this economic crisis, like the Great Depression, might give birth to another Adolf Hitler. To which I have to go, Huh? We're experiencing schadenfreude? Who? Why? Where? I want names. Cause I'm not seeing it.

So with the possible exception of Ricardo Hausmann, if no one is given to schadenfreude then why should we bother with the rest of Jack's column?

Indeed, why should we ever?

Questions? Comments? Remarks? Drop me an e-mail.

UPDATE: This from Ed Heath:
My take on Kelly's point is that he wants to be seen as prescient. Kelly believes we are going to be taken advantage of by enemies around the world. In Kelly's world, Clinton the Democrat was taken advantage of by Somali warlords, and also bears responsibility for 9/11 (Bush was hamstrung by Clinton's shoddy foreign policy). Now as you say Kelly reaches back to blame FDR (who is now seen as a model for Obama) for the rise of Nazi Germany. Then he snaps back to the present and shows us exactly how he thinks Obama will fail. Kelly doesn't actually care how the American people think (except when they agree with him), he wants us to know that the childlike Obama and his childlike followers aren't up to meeting these challenges, that the evil geniuses in Iran, Venezuela and Russia will exploit Obama's wide eyed innocence and we will all be bowing down to them (except the militias Jack Kelly will unite and take command of, or sumpin').