To Help These Democrats, Consider Voting Republican

Psst. A friendly suggestion for Americans yearning to end the Republican grip on political power:

Vote Republican this fall.

I know, the congressional Republicans and their aimlessness, not to mention their regular feats of political cowardice, hardly make hearts beat faster. Nevertheless, consider the effects of putting the current crop of Democratic spokesmen in power and expecting them thereupon to do wonderful things for the public weal.

Wonderful things like whack Wal-Mart in the shins? Oh, brilliant — the sheer tactical genius of setting up against the nation’s biggest private employer and best-known source of bargains.

Democratic strategists might want to consider the possibility that a Republican mole wrote Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden’s blast last week at Wal-Mart, wherein the once and possibly future presidential candidate said things like, “I don’t see any indication that they care about the fate of middle-class people.” The New York Times explained helpfully that “Democratic leaders have found a new rallying cry that many of them say could prove powerful in the midterm elections and into 2008: denouncing Wal-Mart for what they say are substandard wages and health care benefits…part of a broader strategy of addressing what Democrats say is general economic anxiety…”

Well, let’s look at that. Clearly, when you verbally wallop Wal-Mart you’re going to get a lot of attention, so give Biden and the other Democratic Wal-Martphobes (e.g., John Edwards) credit for a certain prescience. The question, I’d say, is do you want that kind of attention? First, because bashing Wal-Mart is bashing a business strategy of low prices for a broad range of merchandise, you have to explain why you want voters to repudiate policies from which they clearly benefit. Second, you can’t bash forever. What do you propose to do about these awful people who insist on undercharging for automobile tires and patio chairs? You’re going to make them stop it, are you? How? Through the exercise of what governmental power?

Democrats enjoy assailing Wal-Mart for not paying employees a “middle-class” wage. As in the auto industry, I suppose, which is shedding jobs right and left due to decades of compliance with union demands for “middle-class” benefits that came ultimately to exceed the benefits enjoyed by the majority of Americans.

Wal-Mart says its average wage is $10 an hour, nearly twice the minimum wage. So we’ll do what about that once Biden is president? Or Mrs. Clinton (a onetime Wal-Mart board member)? Or whomever? Ah, raise the minimum wage? Wait, though — the Senate, presently controlled by those beastly Republicans, tried raising it before the August break, only to fail when Democrats refused to cooperate, as the minimum-wage hike was being yoked to a measure cutting the death tax. Count on the Republicans to rehearse this dismal history. As if the minimum wage were the answer anyway.

Isn’t it likelier that part of the answer, anyway, is a stronger economy, one less burdened by regulation and taxes, that encourages competition with Wal-Mart and thus encourages Wal-Mart to do better by employees — who, in any case, don’t seem to be working there because they were kidnapped and brought to the store at gunpoint? It might just possibly be that 1.3 million Americans are better judges of their needs and opportunities than is Joe Biden. But, well, the Democrats have stepped into this one now, and extrication won’t be easy. Nor will it be fun devising for Ned Lamont, in Connecticut, a useful substitute for his relentless and productive attacks on Joe Lieberman during the Democratic primary. If elected to help end the Iraq war, Lamont will do…what exactly?

As Spiderman is wont to muse, with power goes responsibility (an immemorial truth that even politicians sometimes acknowledge). So why the gaudy rhetoric about problems people like Biden know for a fact they can’t solve? Because, no doubt, demagoguery is such fun when elections are a ways off and nobody can hold you fully to account for saying and wishing and promising the most awful nonsense.

At least until after the elections.