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When did the Dems get so old?

Matt Welch in Reason: Consider the ballyhooed young talent the party trotted out at the 2012 Democratic National Convention: Campaign hack Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, D-Florida. Failed ex-Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Banal San Antonio mayor-turned Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, whose keynote speech at the convention contained such calorie-free bromides as “We have to come together and invest in opportunity today for prosperity tomorrow.”

What gets hearts racing among the progressive base is the explicit class warfare of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and failed Chicago mayoral candidate Chuy Garcia.

If there was to be a Tea Party-style wave of contested Democratic primaries (and there won’t be any time soon), it would likely not be on the issues of drug policy or surveillance, but rather income inequality, Robin Hood taxes, and jacking up the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Progressives who think those are winning national issues may want to reflect that the only likely 2016 candidate to fully embrace them will be a geriatric socialist from Vermont, Howard Dean.

So the base is trying desperately to foist the Blue State model onto recalcitrant Red State America; the party establishment is coughing up deeply unlovable dynastic schemers like Hillary Clinton and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. I know it’s fashionable among some to bemoan the “clown show” of the 2016 Republican presidential field, but at least there’s an actual contest there, and a detectable pulse.

Marco Rubio’s fountain of youth

E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post: Since John F. Kennedy, many politicians have sounded the generational trumpet. Joe Biden and Gary Hart both riffed on it in the 1980s. So did Bill Clinton in the 1990s and Barack Obama seven years ago, with more success.

This week, it was Marco Rubio’s turn. “This election is a generational choice about what kind of country we will be,” he declared in announcing his presidential candidacy Monday, the day after Hillary Clinton launched hers. Her entry gave him a convenient opening for the sound bite that reverberated across the media.

“Now, just yesterday,” he said, “a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday. Yesterday is over.”

People’s attitudes about the ideal age for a candidate are very closely related to how old their partisan or ideological favorite is. I rather doubt that Rubio will say a nasty word about Ronald Reagan (b. Feb. 6, 1911). Reagan was elected president in 1980 at the age of 69, which happens to be the age Hillary Clinton (b. Oct. 26, 1947) will be on Election Day 2016.

And while Rubio casts himself as an innovative thinker, it’s quite hard to distinguish between what he’s saying and what Reagan ran on 35 years ago. In his announcement, Rubio spoke with compassion about “small-business owners who are left to struggle under the weight of more taxes, more regulation and more government.” Nothing new there. He spoke of ... “our leaders taxing and borrowing and regulating like it’s 1999.” Change “1999” to “1979” and that could be the Gipper talking.

The Federal Reserve’s revolving door

David A. Graham in the Atlantic: So Ben Bernanke wants to make a buck. Who can blame him? The guy is one of the most esteemed economists of his generation. He served his country admirably; his term as chairman of the Federal Reserve was probably the single most stressful term in that role in history. He resigned from his tenured professorship at Princeton when he joined the Fed board. What else is the guy going to do?

This is, of course, how systemic problems work — few individual cases are obviously unacceptable, but the whole is horrifying. In this case, it’s the “revolving door” of movement between government positions and the financial sector — that is to say, from modestly paying positions in the public sector, overseeing financial firms, to higher-paying jobs in the private sector.

Bernanke is going to work for Citadel, a $25 billion hedge fund that is one of the country’s largest. While Bernanke is a talented economist, he has also never worked in the industry, so it’s fairly clear that what Citadel wants is inside information — either things he knows because he remains close with people in positions of authority, or his insight into ongoing negotiations.

Perhaps what makes Bernanke’s case so worrisome is that he has an almost universal reputation for probity. If the revolving-door system is so powerful that it can make even him look suspect, is it beyond redemption?

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