Free Markets, Free People

If you’ve lost Streisand, you’ve pretty much lost the left

The annual gathering of the “intelligentsia” at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen CO would normally be a love fest for left leaning politicians like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. It’s a veritable “Who’s Who” of leftish thinkers.

But this year, for some reason, it isn’t a place where Barack Obama would feel particularly comfortable, it seems. Speakers have been anything but complimentary on the current administration’s policies or the direction of the country.

One of his recently more outspoken critics is Mort Zuckerman, owner of the New York Daily News and editor-in-chief of US News and World Report. On a panel shared with Harvard business and history professor Niall Ferguson, Zuckerman was none to kind to the present commander-in-chief or his economic policies:

“We are, without question, in a period of decline, particularly in the business world,” Zuckerman said. “The real problem we have…are some of the worst economic policies in place today that, in my judgment, go directly against the long-term interests of this country.”

And why does Zuckerman – a business owner in his own right – feel this way:

Zuckerman added that he detects in the Obama White House “hostility to the very kinds of [business] culture that have made this the great country that it is and was. I think we have to find some way of dealing with that or else we will do great damage to this country with a public policy that could ruin everything.”

Those aren’t words couched in nuance or diplomacy as one can immediately tell. Those are the words of a man – an Obama supporter – who has come to the realization of how serious a mistake he and others who supported this President made.

Ferguson was no less critical. Panning the policy which has kept extending long-term unemployment benefits, Ferguson said, “Long-term unemployment is at an all-time high in the United States, and it is a direct consequence of a misconceived public policy.”

And, adding to Zuckerman’s “nation in decline” observation he said:

“The critical point is if your policy says you’re going run a trillion-dollar deficit for the rest of time, you’re riding for a fall…Then it really is goodbye.” A dashing Brit, Ferguson added: “Can I say that, having grown up in a declining empire, I do not recommend it. It’s just not a lot of fun actually—decline.”

When the “S” word found its way into the conversation, Ferguson was a little less forthright with his answer:

“If you’re asking if the United States is about to become a socialist state, I’d say it’s actually about to become a European state, with the expansiveness of the welfare system and the progressive tax system like what we’ve already experienced in Western Europe,”

Or, “yeah, the US is headed that way”. Ferguson also warned that in essence we were moving toward becoming an “implicit part of the European Union” and he warned, “I’d advise against it”.

Ferguson even complemented Republican Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap” as the “radical, root-and-branch reform not only of the tax system but of the entitlement system” that is necessary to “unleash entrepreneurial innovation.”

That won’t exactly come as music to the ears of Peter Orszag and Larry Summers who are expected at the event later this week. Summers has come under criticism as well for his explanations of why the recovery was to this point jobless.

Sitting in the audience, clapping enthusiastically with all the rest of the invited were Barbara Streisand and her husband James Brolin – neither of whom would be described as from the conservative set. When asked, at the conclusion of the panel discussion, for their impressions they said:

“Depressing, but fantastic,” Streisand told me afterward, rendering her verdict on the session. “So exciting. Wonderful!”

Brolin’s assessment: “Mind-blowing.”

Actually, it is more mind-blowing than one might imagine. If Obama has indeed lost the likes of Zuckerman and Ferguson that’s certainly a blow to him. But if even the likes of Streisand and Brolin can see the problem and its origin, he has most assuredly lost a good part of the left.


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28 Responses to If you’ve lost Streisand, you’ve pretty much lost the left

  • I have to admit I’m inclined to this Streisand et al would say anything put in front of them was “mind blowing”. How do you think they got to be such raging liberals in the first place? It isn’t because it’s a considered examination of the questions of the day, it is because that’s what everybody around them tells them. But hey, if Hollywood actors are going to swallow anybody’s bilge, I guess I’d rather it was mine… 🙂

    • My assessment when I read the article the other day – typical mindless babs “So Exciting…”
      So exciting?    As Anna Russel once observed about certain singers “They have resonance where their brains ought to be”.  Her powers of observation perceived a microphone like device in her face and powered up enough to respond with a mindless answer.
      Now, Zuckerman?  can’t just shrug that one off.  One would think a fairly astute observer.  So wasn’t he paying attention on Imeme, his lack of experience being such a red flag?  Or did he just let the media pay his attention for him?

  • These elitists must be racists!

  • “Zuckerman added that he detects in the Obama White House ‘hostility to the very kinds of [business] culture that have made this the great country that it is and was.'”

    Gee, ya think?

    He “detects?”

    That’s like opening a car trunk at the LAX lot with a body that’s been in there for three weeks and saying, “I detect a slight odor here.”

    As a jest, Zuckerman’s quote would be as hilarious as “I detect a slight oder here” would be, in jest, in the LAX lot. As an attempted serious observation it’s more than two years past its expiration date, which came about six months before the ’08 election. Unless he was smoking a really rank cigar and dabbing Vicks in his nostrils when he said it, the joke is on Zuckerman.

  • Let’s not rush to conclusions…Occam’s Razor says that Babs was misquoted.

  • There was a LOT of good news that came out of these speakers’ statements.
    Streisand not so much.  She’s the kind of “thinker” who doesn’t.  I’d worry if WE HAD Streisand, actually…

  • They’ll vote for him next election though.

    Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

    Just because their latest nominee for messiah has disappointed them, do you actually think they’d vote for whatever pure evil nominee the GOP sends up?

    • They know their best chance to change the policies of B. Obama are the 2012 primaries.

  • Lost the left?  Hmmm – not so sure about that one.  Indeed, the left/right binary paradigm really does not seem to apply here.  Essentially, the debate at this point seems to be between stimulus and austerity – spend or cut, which cuts across ideological lines.  Since Obama seems to be honoring his no new tax pledge on those making $250,000 or less, a meaningful tax increase seems off the table.  

    If Ferguson is on the left, and if he is anti-stimulus, whether it be unemployment insurance or something else, then perhaps Obama has “lost” him.  But so what?  For every Ferguson there is a Krugman calling for the opposite and that Obama is not pushing hard enough for more stimulus.   

    Indeed, Mark Zandi – McCain’s chief economic advisor during the campaign – hardly a lefty, is also calling for more stimulus.  As he points out, short term interest rates are at a near record low, and demand for T-Bills is up.   As he points out, there is actually a big difference from a fiscal standpoint between the EU countries and the US.  

    As for Zuckerman, since he apparently was not dropped on his head as a child, he endorsed Obama over McCain/Palin in 2008.  Not being dropped on one’s head as a child does not automatically make one a lefty, obviously (although it doesn’t hurt).  

    • Spend or cut does not cut across ideological lines. Citing RINOs doesn’t change that.

  • HA HA! Zuckerman and this cabal of businessmen are just now coming to the realization that an AVOWED MARXIST is hostile to business?  What a bunch of idiots.  Did they believe that all that “community activism” where he put the shake down on small business and all the hand rubbing with increasingly strident unions had made him more understanding of capitalism and the free market?
    I would say they deserve what they are getting if it wasn’t pulling all of us down with it.

  • He may not be as pretty as he used to be, but Elvis hasn’t left the building yet.
    He still enjoys a high popularity among Democrats in general.  So until the GOP can come up with a credible candidate for the indies to take him on in 2012, he remains a tough nut to crack.
    Personally, I think Pawlenty  has the best chance from the current crop.  But the question is if he could get past the primaries.

    • I agree with you on this one Pogue.  Obambi has still got a core of solid support. 

      I believe though that his ideology in the long run will be his ultimate undoing.  MSM cannot screen all from the world and those bits and pieces that leak out continue to gnaw at the edges, especially the remaining independents.  Don’t get me wrong, there will always be that hard core support for him just as there was for Bush at the very end.  But I predict his numbers will be Bush-like by the Summer of 2012.

      The only question is whether his numbers deteriorate fast enough for an opportunist like Hillary to jump back into the mix and that is a kicker that may upset everybody’s apple cart.

    • Obama could declare outright war on the US and still retain 25% at the polls.

  • The Left is nothing if not plastic. It takes on many shapes. It is mood and rumor driven even as it perpetually chases its evanescent vision of establishing a perfectly free totalitarian society. If Obama becomes an unsuitable prince, he too can be replaced. Messiah today, gone tomorrow. Next! “The dream will never die,” as one-time prince-in-waiting Ted Kennedy screamed at the Democratic convention in 1980. But it will be tough for the Left to give up on a KGB laboratory experiment like Obama. There just aren’t enough of them around.