They Let These People Out in Public?
February 16, 2009, 12:19 pm
Filed under: Ian

In honor of Presidents Day, the National Review is hosting a raft of wingnut thinkers explaining who their favorite former President is and why.  There’s surprisingly little love for modern rightist standbys like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, instead, we are treated to gems such as this one by George Mason Law Professor Todd Zywicki:

Calvin Coolidge exemplifies the leadership that is lacking in Washington today.

He was a constitutionalist: As governor as Massachusetts he supported many progressive measures, such as wage and child-labor legislation. But as president he believed these to be beyond the reach of federal power.

For my readers who are unfamilar with the constitutional history of the early 20th century, the Supreme Court declared around the turn of the previous century that basic labor protections such as minimum wage, overtime and child labor laws are unconstitutional, either on the grounds that they violated a robber-baron’s expansive understanding of the “freedom to contract,” or because the Constitution did not allow the federal government to regulate workers wages.

Zywicki is apparently a fan of the second theory.  He thinks Calvin Coolidge was an awesome President because, while President, Coolidge refused to support the most basic protections for American workers.

Now, if I believed something that was so far outside of the American mainstream—if I were so divorced from reality to pine for the kind of pre-New Deal libertarianism that brought about the Great Depression—I might not want to say so out loud and in public.  Zywicki, sadly, seems to lack a basic sense of shame.

But more than that, if I were the editors of the National Review, which is an important public face of the modern conservative movement, I might think twice about letting Zywicki spout his nonsense on the NR‘s pages.  Most of the country is busy praying that President Obama can dig us out of the hole that 30 years of deregulatory policy cast us into.  Conservatives might not want to tout their fundamentalist passion for deregulation at now of all times if they want to be a viable political movement in the future.


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