A Tale of Two Lists

I think it's a close-run thing as to which list is more unpersuasive: Fareed Zakaria's leading indicators of American decline (we no longer have the world's biggest casino, the world's largest shopping mall, or the world's tallest Ferris Wheel, among other portents of doom), or Newt Gingrich's "nine acts of real change" that could save the GOP from disaster in '08, which include making campaigns against card-check and earmarks central to the GOP agenda, overhauling the census (now there's a game-changer), and implementing "a space-based, GPS-style air traffic control system."

I suppose I have to give the nod to Newt, since Zakaria at least admits that his list is "arbitrary and a bit silly." And to be fair, both pieces have something to recommend them: The Gingrich recommendations are absurd, but the Gingrich analysis of the GOP's predicament should be required reading for Pollyanish conservatives, while Zakaria, as usual, has various sane and measured things to say about the state of the world. But that makes it all the more disappointing to see him lapse into Friedmanesque blather about the casino and ferris wheel gap, and the necessity of demonstrating our commitment to the global order by joining the metric system, and the risk that having succeeded in our "great, historical mission—globalizing the world," the U.S. might forget "to globalize ourselves." (I'm not sure what that means, but I'm pretty sure I'm against it.) Maybe he's making a bid for Friedmanesque book sales - but if so, he should remember that it profits a pundit nothing to gain the whole world if he ends up stuck arguing that it's flat.