David Stockman occupies a rare place in this nation’s public pantheon — the serial apostate.
While heading the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan, he called out his fellow Republicans for fiscal recklessness and repudiated policies that his boss was promoting. He soon left Washington for a place of presumably sounder financial thinking: Wall Street.
But once again, he encountered mankind’s shortcomings. A financier who built elaborate deals on foundations of debt, Stockman proclaimed the folly of such ways. He ran afoul of a prosecutor who accused him of not complying with accounting standards that Stockman later concluded didn’t make sense anyway.
Now, he has cast his acid eye on the country’s entire economic edifice. What the former divinity student sees doesn’t merely dismay, it outrages him morally, page after page, chapter after chapter. Stockman’s new tract, “The Great Deformation,” is a kaleidoscopic rant against people, institutions and practices he knows well. He attacks, upends, eviscerates, mocks and denigrates them all, usually with some justification, always in the brutalist prose of a manifesto.