Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Obama, Poker Player?

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Now he’s a poker player? Just as I’m beginning to think the man knows nothing other than oration I learn he plays poker. Oh. Bring. Him. On.

But seriously, in an insightful piece in the TimesOnline, Tim Reid offers some useful commentary:

What was most striking about the budget – including that it will explode the federal deficit to $1.75 trillion this year, its highest since the Second World War – was that it was a ruthless declaration of how Mr Obama intends fundamentally to change the American social contract, from Right to Left.

Its goal is not just to rescue the economy. It is to crush conservatism, end the age of anti-tax, anti-regulation policies that have been the guiding philosophies of US governance for a generation, and usher in a fresh “epoch”, as his aides call it, of New Deal-Great Society wealth redistribution and central intervention that were repudiated by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago.

I think its goal is the latter —crush conservatism. It was pretty clear all along during the election that one could not square Obama’s centrist rhetoric with his hard-left past. If the economy is saved in the process, that’s actually not so good since it will necessarily result in less government influence in the private sector. Can’t have that.

But there is also this:

Mr Obama and his aides are particularly attracted to the notion, put forward by the Yale political scientist Stephen Skowronek, that most of the truly transformative US presidents – and there are only a handful – followed failed ones. They include Thomas Jefferson after John Adams, Lincoln after James Buchanan, Franklin D. Roosevelt after Herbert Hoover and Ronald Reagan after Jimmy Carter.

I immediately noticed the flaw in this notion —all the ‘failed’ presidents on this list (Adams is questionable) were one-termers. George W. Bush was a two-term president. The parallel is further marred by the fact that most of Bush’s alleged failure is a media creation and attributing the failure of others during Hurricane Katrina (q.v. former governor of Louisiana and once and present mayor of New Orleans) to the President. Bush’s real failure was that he never managed to control his image.

But to return to Obama’s ego, one of the things that has struck me about him since he first walked on the national stage, is his singular lack of accomplishment. He has consistently managed to get himself promoted without actually doing the job he was hired to do. One might think there’s no place to go once one gets hired as POTUS, but Obama apparently does. He’ll join the pantheon of ‘transformative’ presidents.

This time, Obama will actually have to work to get there. As he’s obviously never done that before, I’m not that optimistic. But since I don’t want to go where Obama wants to go anyway, it may be for the best in the long term. In the short term however, we’re all in deep and getting deeper.

More here from Charles Krauthammer.

Written by martinipundit

March 6, 2009 at 12:47 pm

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