HH: Joined now by two new media superstars, the biggest voices in the blogosphere, really, Mickey Kaus of Slate.com, where he writes at www.kausfiles.com, and Glenn Reynolds, professor of law at the University of Tennessee, www.instapundit.com to you. Gentlemen, welcome, I asked you here today to talk about Fred and his exit, stage right. Mickey, you kind of popularized the Feiler Faster thesis. Explain to people what that is, and how quickly Fred’s departure might impact this race.
MK: Well, it just, it asserts that voters are very comfortable processing information quickly. You know, there are all these complaints about the compressed primary schedule. And my friend Bruce Feiler told me in 2000, you know, people are comfortable with the compressed schedule. I don’t think…I think we could do it faster than we were doing it back then, and now, we’re doing it faster than we were doing it back then. So the point is that people process information, and it becomes old news with startling rapidity. So…
HH: Is it a fair test of the theory that the next Rasmussen that comes out in two days will show that Fred’s support will have dissipated to zero in Florida?
MK: Well, it depends on when he took it. He probably took it today.
HH: Yeah, if he takes it tomorrow…so I’m…
MK: If he takes it tomorrow, I think it’ll dissipate fairly rapidly, yes.
HH: That will be a good test. Glenn, what do you think of the theory?
GR: I think it’s right. I think people do catch up fast. I think it’s one reason momentum and this election has been so short-lived and the like. And I actually think it’ll be interesting to watch the Louisiana caucuses, which are going on right now, where people thought Fred Thompson might do well. And I suspect that we will see that people will quickly process where to go instead.
HH: It’s just very hard to read those caucuses’ result, isn’t it, Glenn? That’s why I don’t think there’s been a lot of attention paid to them, because those people don’t really commit to someone like Wyoming or Nevada did, do they?
GR: I don’t know. I’m sort of mystified. I can’t decide why the press decides that it thinks some things are more important than others.
HH: I think it’s because it’s based upon how easy is it to decide and not look like a fool, Mickey. What do you think?
MK: Well, when Glenn brought up Louisiana, I had completely forgotten about Louisiana. So I guess I’m a creature of the mainstream media. And Fred’s apparently forgotten about it, too. I guess his mother is ill, so he sort of, maybe that’s why he…since it’s today, you’d think he’d wait for a day.
GR: I think Fred’s thinking probably he was too sane to be president.
HH: Just much too amiable and much too mature?
GR: Yeah, I mean, I really do. I think people say he didn’t have the fire in the belly. I think that means he didn’t have the consuming narcissism that’s really required to do it. You know, when George Wallace was running, his wife was in a cancer ward. He shipped his kids off to some distant relatives, and went out and stumped the country. And you just can’t imagine Fred doing that.
HH: All right, now let’s get into wild speculation. Where’s the Republican race headed, Glenn Reynolds?
GR: I think it’s going to be a McCain-Romney showdown. And remind me again, who are you supporting? You make this coy…
HH: That’s right. I have always been known as a Mitt Romney guy, but it’s not like I have to declare that every segment.
HH: But it’s a showdown in Florida, and who wins it?
GR: I’m going to go out on a limb. I’m actually going to say Giuliani pulls off a surprise. And it’s going to be interesting to see who he can push down a peg by doing so.
HH: I’ve got a question for you, Mickey. Romney pledges support for the auto industry in Michigan, and gets blasted as a panderer. Rudy Giuliani pledges the national CAT fund in Florida, and nobody uses the P word. Aren’t they the same? And aren’t they both expressions of smart political instincts?
MK: Yes, I mean, there’s a double standard all over the race. I mean, Obama is being ghettoized as the black candidate, that Hillary isn’t being ghettoized as the Latino candidate, even though Hillary has three-quarters of the Latino vote. That sort of thing always happens. I mean, Romney sort of has this rep as somebody who will tailor his campaign to whatever the electorate wants, not so much because he’s flip-flopped, but because he seems to have unveiled a new campaign theme every other week, which sort of is disconcerting to people, especially in the press.
HH: Now let’s talk specifically about the national catastrophe fund, because Glenn Reynolds, it’s become huge. McCain came out against it in a replay of his, you know, the jobs aren’t coming back, Michigan, finger in your eye of Florida voters. Rudy doubles down today and says we need it, we’ve got to spread the risk. Romney’s in between, saying we’ve got to spread the risk among states that are at risk. What do you think of it, as a federal intervention, where you know, state laws control insurance markets. And if you’re ever going to get a national risk market for those who are at high risk, you’re going to have to get some federal law.
GR: Yeah, I’m a big fan of disaster preparedness, but I’m also a big fan of avoiding moral hazard. And I’m actually not sure where this shakes out on that. There are a lot of million dollar houses right on the beach in Florida. In fact, my family rents one most summers. And you know, the federal government really subsidizes them against the very high risk of hurricane damage, and I don’t know why it should.
HH: How do they subsidize them if we still need a national catastrophe fund?
GR: They subsidize them with low interest FEMA rebuilding loans and the like. And they allow people to build things there, that if they depended on private insurance alone, they would realize how much risk they’re at.
HH: Mickey Kaus, what do you think about taking California, with its earthquakes and wildfires, and coastal Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, and actually up to Boston and New York, they get hammered infrequently, and allowing them to make a national market in disaster insurance?
MK: Well, that by itself seems unobjectionable. The question is how heavily it will be subsidized, and you have to feel that if it’s popular in Florida, it’s going to create a moral hazard, because people feel they have a right to live right next to the ocean. And just as in California, we feel we have a right to live right on the San Andreas fault. So you know, a big pool is fine. You know, I’m sort of an anti-federalist. Why should the states regulate insurance? Why shouldn’t that be a national market? Isn’t it good that it’s a foot in the door at federal regulation? I mean, this has been a perennial rock that Congressmen have broken their pick over for decades.
HH: And Glenn, what do you think about that? Insurance is one of those throwbacks to sort of prior to the Dormant Commerce Clause, when you know, states get to run the insurance business. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense.
GR: No, I have nothing against federal regulation of the insurance business. The insurance business is a nightmare of state protectionism, and what amounts to legalized grass, and I would be happy to see all those barriers go down. But I just have to say, agree with Mickey that anything that this many Floridians want is probably subsidized more than I like.
HH: All right, last question for you both, guessing, I want nomination guesses and vice presidential guesses. It’s only, you know, three weeks until it’s all going to be over but the shouting. Mickey Kaus, what’s that Democratic ticket going to look like?
MK: Well, it looks like the Democratic ticket’s going to be Hillary and gee, I don’t know, I would say Hillary and Barack.
HH: Not…okay, that’s what I think, but some people say the bad blood’s too intense. I don’t believe that.
MK: Well, there was bad blood between Kerry and Edwards, and they buried the hatchet. So…and Hillary’s going to have some fence mending to do with the black community. So I don’t like that. I’d prefer Barack. But I think that’s what’s going to happen. And I think Romney’s going to win on the Republican side.
HH: And match up with who?
MK: Oh, God, I don’t know. I mean, Huckabee or Thompson would be the logical ones.
HH: Okay. Glenn, your predictions?
GR: I think Clinton-Obama’s right, because I think politicians can stomach almost everything if they’re likely to be elected. And on the other side, I see it as either Romney-Thompson or McCain-Thompson.
HH: Come on, now, you can’t give me two.
GR: Oh, all right, all right. I’ll make you happy. I’ll say Romney-Thompson.
HH: Interesting, so we have two Romney predictions tonight. We’re going to have to have Duane post that one. That will make the swirl around the blogosphere. Mickey Kaus from www.kausfiles.com, Glenn Reynolds, www.instapundit.com, thank you both from the new media land of the giants.
End of interview.