From The New Yorker:
…Of course, invoking the Fourteenth Amendment has always been a long shot, a last refuge. But Obama’s seeming refusal to hold it in reserve (“like the fire axe on the wall,” in Garrett Epps’s words) is emblematic of his all too civilized, all too accommodating negotiating strategy—indeed, of his whole approach to the nation’s larger economic dilemma, the most disappointing aspect of his Presidency. His stimulus package asked for too little and got less. He has allowed deficits and debt to supersede mass unemployment as the emergency of the moment. He has too readily accepted Republican terms of debate, such as likening the country to a household that must “live within its means.” (For even the most prudent householders, living within one’s means can include going into debt, as in taking out a car loan so that one can get to one’s job.) He has done too little to educate the public to the wisdom of post-Herbert Hoover economics: fiscal balance is achieved over time, not in a single year; in flush times a government should run a surplus, but when the economy falters deficits are part of the remedy; when the immediate problem is what it is now—a lack of demand, not a shortage of capital—higher spending is generally more efficacious than lower taxes, especially lower taxes on the rich…
And now the Carterization of Obama is complete…well, except that he hasn’t had his Killer Rabbit attack. You see, I remember this – back in 1980 when I was gleefully reading over the liberal angst about Carter’s defeat, there were liberal opinions that Carter’s failure was that he wasn’t liberal enough. Had he spent more, taxed more, cut defense more, negotiated with our enemies more…had he just gone full blown in to the most extreme liberalism possible, it all would have worked out. There is a bizarre disconnect from reality in our “reality-based community”…the unwillingness to ever admit that liberalism can get it wrong, or even be unpopular.
One does have to wonder – that was written by Hendrik Hertzberg. He’s a well-educated man: at least, his credentials say so. But does he really believe that there was in what FDR did a stark contrast to what Hoover did? Does he further believe that what FDR did worked? Hoover spent bags of money trying to fix the economy (little remembered is how in 1932 FDR ran on a balanced budget platform). FDR just spent bags and bags and bags. Hoover didn’t fix the depression, neither did FDR. Yet here we are in 2011 and here is Mr. Hertzberg, certain that the lesson of the past is that you have to go flat out in spending…don’t do what Hoover did! And Obama, in Hertzberg’s view, is being too Hooverish and not channeling his inner-FDR. But Hoover did what FDR did and both FDR and Hoover failed utterly. How do you get that ignorant about history and yet graduate from the Ivy League and become a commentator for The New Yorker?
Furthermore, a little blogger like me is supposed to stand in awe of all this…that I don’t have an Ivy League diploma and don’t have an editor to carefully review what I’ve written, and so I should accept as from on high such pronouncements. But that is absurd – I can see what is plain as a pikestaff, Hertzberg, by the evidence in his article, would have difficulty finding the balls on a bull. There is making a mistake – I’ve done that; I’ll do it again and again, too…but there is a huge difference between “mistake” and “obtuse”.
Never mind. As long as liberals really think that it is a lack of liberalism which makes for liberal failure, it works out mostly to our advantage. True, it came back to bite us in 2008 – never imagined someone as leftist as Obama could even get nominated, let alone elected…but everything, I guess, really is possible. It is highly likely that we will correct 2008’s error in 2012…and Hertzberg and other liberals will then proclaim not a shift to the right to regain America’s trust, but a further shift to the left because those darn morons, the voters, just don’t know what’s good for them. We should be able to keep the Democrats out of the White House for 20 years on that.
HAT TIP: Commentary