Free Markets, Free People

Per the NYT – How Obama could save Obama (and the Democrats)

This magic formula for doing what the title suggests is courtesy of a New York Times editorial. After the appropriate amount of "the obstructionist GOP", and "poor Obama inherited this mess" whining, the NYT gets down to what it considers to be the brass tacks of the situation:

The question then is whether Mr. Obama will lead. He cannot force Congress to act, but he could pre-empt Republicans’ diatribes — on the deficit, on small business, on taxes — with tough truths and a big mission that would tie together the strategies and the sacrifices that will be needed to put the economy right.

The first sentence pretty much shoots the whole thing in the foot, doesn’t it?  Even if you agree 100% with the NYT formula for political success, getting Obama to lead on anything is simply not very likely.  He’s not a leader in a job that demands such a type.  He’s, at best, a policy wonk.  And judging by his economic policies not a very good one.

But back to the magic show that the NYT claims could save the left.  Per the editorial, the country needs “tough truths” and a “big mission” with which to motivate the people enough to “put the economy right”.

Here’s an idea – how about policies which enable businesses by providing incentives to get off the cash they’re piling up, expand and hire?  Settle the markets down by backing off government regulation, and intrusiveness.  Back off new taxes and roll back some old ones.  Stop spending money we don’t have.  Make a real attempt to address the deficit.


Mr. Obama also needs to inspire Americans who have been ground down by the economic crisis and Washington’s small-bore sniping. He needs to rally the nation around a big idea — a project that is worth sacrificing for, worth paying for, worth working for. One that lets them know that there is more ahead than just a return to a status quo of lopsided growth in which corporate profits surge while jobs and incomes lag.

That mission could be the “21st century infrastructure,” that Mr. Obama mentioned on a multi-city trip this month, “not just roads and bridges, but faster Internet access and high-speed rail.” It could be energy independence, with high-tech green jobs and a real chance for addressing global warming. Either of the above would make sense, economically and politically.

Mr. Obama and his economic team had clearly hoped for an economic rebound in time for the midterm elections. They are not going to get it. The economic damage they inherited was too deep, and the economic stimulus they pushed through Congress, for all of the fight, was too small. Standing back is not doing the country or his party any good. We believe Americans are ready for hard truths and big ideas.

Wait – didn’t we just pour almost a trillion borrowed dollars into that “big mission”?  Wasn’t it all about shovel ready infrastructure projects?  And hasn’t it been a spectacular failure.

Certainly there are “infrastructure” needs that require addressing.  But when you have an official unemployment rate of 9.5% (and an unofficial and much more accurate one well into double digits), people aren’t going to be impressed by “faster internet” and “green projects” that never seem to get anywhere and cost and arm and a leg.  And high-speed rail?  Really?

Oh, and the “chance to address global warming” is what – a chance to increase taxes, cripple businesses and make it even less likely that unemployment will improve.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Anyone who thinks people hurting economically would be impressed with this nonsense, even if Obama could and would lead, have to be living in an ivory tower somewhere.   People want jobs, not high speed rail or faster internet.  They don’t care if their job is a ‘green job’, they just want a freakin’ job.   And global warming – the majority of the population doesn’t even agree it’s happening much less wanting costly government programs that address it by taking money from them.

Why is it the left doesn’t seem to understand that it is time to put the agenda aside and focus on the nuts and bolts of creating jobs? The need is immediate – not some 5 to 10 years away.

The reason is because such a focus would mean actually admitting that their present agenda is hurting such an effort as well as acknowledging that government may not be the answer (instead, getting government out of the way actually is the answer).

So we get these sorts of pathetic pleas to a man who couldn’t lead a group of 5 year olds to an ice cream truck to essentially keep the agenda alive by disguising it as something it is not – a way to fix our economic problems.

Clue to the NYT.  Yes, the people are open for tough talk about shared sacrifice.  The rally in DC this weekend underlines that.  Here’s the problem for the left – the sacrifice they first want and expect to see is at the expense of this bloated, wasteful and ineffective national government that has its fingers in way to many pies.  Until they see real spending cuts, real downsizing and real governmental reform that benefits them and the engine of the economy – businesses – they’re uninterested in any nonsense about more government or more government spending or 21st century agendas.

To continue a theme, this ain’t rocket science, but it certainly is something that seems to be beyond the capacity of the left to grasp.  As it turns out, November will most likely reward them properly for their consistent inability to do so.



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24 Responses to Per the NYT – How Obama could save Obama (and the Democrats)

  • The reason is because such a focus would mean actually admitting that their present agenda is hurting such an effort as well as acknowledging that government may not be the answer.

    In much the same as Obama couldn’t lead you to the nearest bathroom, the left cannot acknowledge their current agenda is anything but the only way forward.  For them to acknowledge such an idea is to open up the concept that other alternatives may even be better.  And that can never be allowed!

    •   Now that the anti-science, superstition-based initiative presidency is over, we need Manhattan projects to boost us out of this Grotesque Depression. First we must provide free advertising-based wimax wireless internet to everyone to end land line monopolies. Renationalize the telephone companies like 1917 and the DTV fiasco and internet under a renationalized post office. Because bovine flatulence is the major source of greenhouse gases, we must develop home growable microbes to provide all of our protein. We must finally join the metric system and take advantage of DTV problems to create a unified global standard for television and cellular instead of this Anglo Saxon competitive waste. We must address that most illness starts from behavior, especially parents. Since paranoid schizophrenia is the cause of racism, bigotry, homelessness, terrorism, ignorance, exploitation and criminality, we must provide put the appropriate medications, like lithium, in the water supply and require dangerous wingnuts who refuse free mental health care to be implanted with drug release devices. Churches should be licensed to reduce supersition and all clergy dealing with small children should be psychiatrically monitored to prevent molesting. We need to psychiatrically regulate the preachers and teachers that produce these creatures. Osama bin Laden and Timothy McVeigh were the ultimate superstition based initiatives. Folks wouldn’t have to go to bigoted superstitious gatherings like churches if labor unions had more family dances, afterschool activities and even owned sports teams to build loyalty! Aborting future terrorists and sterilizing their parents is the most effective homeland security. Pregnancy is a shelfish, environmentally desturctive act and must be punished, not rewarded with benefits, preference and leave. Widen navigation straits (Gibraltar, Suez, Malacca, Danube, Panama, Hellspont) with deep nukes to prevent war. To fund this we must nationalize the entire financial, electrical and transportation system and extinguish the silly feudal notion that each industry should be regulated by its peers. Technology mandates a transformation of tax subsidies from feudal forecloseable debt to risk sharing equity. Real estate and insurance, the engines of feudalism, must be brought under the Federal Reserve so we may replace all buildings with hazardous materials to provide public works.  Collectors, bounty hunters and private investigators are mercenaries operating on the edge of the law. Insects, flooding and fire spread asbestos, lead and mold which prematurely disables the disadvantaged. Disposable manufactured housing assures children are not prematurely disabled and disadvantaged. The only reason one engages in atomistic, sheflish small business is to avoid rules. Even Milton Friedman showed that small business creating jobs is unprovable because of survival bias (J Eco Lit, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 2129-2132). In today’s complex New Industrial State (J K Galbraith), you do a better job if you are a large contractor because you have all kinds of compliance controls in place and superior information than if you are on you own.  Because feudalism is the threat to progress everywhere, we must abolish large land holdings by farmers, foresters or religions and instead make all such large landholding part of the forest service so our trees may diminish greenhouse gases. Darwin led to the worst colonial, militarist, atrocity and stock market abuses in history – Lamarkian inhertiance and mitochondrial DNA show that Darwin was not all he is crackered up to be. We must abolish executive pay and make sure all employees in a company are all paid equally. We must abolish this exploitative idea of trade and monopoly and make every manufactured disposable cottage self sufficient through the microbes we invent. Southern Oligarchs destroyed the Democarts in the sixties and destroyed the Republicans this decade – they would not allow viable candidates like Colin Powell, Mitt Romney or Condi Rice to even be considered!

  • Well, first….
    GAWD, save us from NYT “big thinking”!!!  What a lode of CRAP!  These people have NO CLUE what the “coming thing” will be.  JUST GET TF OUT OF THE WAY!!!  (Yes, I am shouting).
    Second, Obama’s bolt is shot.  As VDH has said, he can’t pivot.  Doesn’t have it in him, poor man/child.  This is who he is, and this is all he is.
    Americans are ready for hard truths and big ideas.  They aren’t going to come from these “minds”, and the leadership for them is NOT coming out of the Mad King Barack…whatever else happens.

  • The first thing that came to my mind while reading this was the classic scene from old movies:

    A group of children is sitting around outside somewhere. They’re discussing some problem the adults are having that the children know about but only vaguely understand. The want to help solve it, but they have no real ideas about what to do. Suddenly, one of them pipes up and says “Let’s put on a show!” 

    Stripped of irrelevance, that’s what the Times editorial is telling Obama the left should do: “Let’s put on a show!”

    This the classic problem of confusing motion with progress. Of course, given that these people work for a company that is totally floundering in trying to solve its own problems, we shouldn’t be surprised that they can’t solve problems a million times worse.

  • What’s the saying, “sound and fury signifying nothing”.
    Think about the big goals that motivated Americans in the past.
    Manifest Destiny
    Making the World Safe for Democracy
    Liberating Europe and Asia
    Putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade.
    Making civil rights more than just words in our laws.
    Does improving our infrastructure or ubiquitous wifi, or even green energy have that sort of resonance with the public? The theme that unites all the ideas listed above is that they were obvious to the Americans of those times. Some of them were controversial, but nobody would have scoffed that those ideas weren’t grand national challenges.
    This idea shows that the elites haven’t matured much since the 1960s. They thought they were promoting a JFK and they got a Jimmy Carter.

    • “Energy independence” would be that big, but unfortunately physics isn’t on their side.
      “Green Energy”, as currently defined (if you can find one), is a set of service oriented jobs that produce almost nothing that looks like an economy where those with less than a high school diploma can subsist.  It is heavy on conservation, which by itself isn’t a bad idea, but like living in a life raft, you can’t keep adding people because you will eventually sink.
      Worse still is that Obama has no vision (remember Bob Dole and the “vision” thing).  He really hasn’t changed his course from what he outlined before the primaries started in 2008, except when Pelosi and Reid did it for him.  To expect Obama to now pull a “rabbit out of a hat” now is beyond absurd.

      • IMNHO, “energy independence” is one of the stupidest ideas on the map.  It would be counter-productive, anti-economic, and…generally…impossible.  That never says we should not be producing more of our own resources…we should.  But a national crusade to make the U.S. energy independent would be a titanic loser…then it would fail.

        • “Energy independence” would be that big, but it has eluded Carter, et al
          The closest we could do to minimize the effects of dollars for oil, would be to go nuclear in a huge way, but I don’t see Obama doing that .. ever .. even though it is the best if you believe CO2 will kill us.

        • Nuclear power makes a lot of sense.  But we will be BIG petroleum consumers on into the future, since it is the ONLY practical motor fuel, is still quite plentiful, and there just isn’t anything to replace it on the horizon.
          But Obama, despite mouthing support for more nuke power, has all but killed it.  Just one of those instances where he repudiates his own words in the same paragraph.

          • Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium

            If Barack Obama were to marshal America’s vast scientific and strategic resources behind a new Manhattan Project, he might reasonably hope to reinvent the global energy landscape and sketch an end to our dependence on fossil fuels within three to five years.

            Gee, I wish this were completely true. Reality is always bleaker.
            If all went perfectly, you would need 600 to 800 plants, with a cost of $3 to $4 billion each. That’s $2 to $3 trillion dollars and probably a decade or two to make it happen.
            Once you factor in regulatory review, law suits, technological failures, etc. … call it $5 to $6 trillion and 25 years.  Not exactly “overnight”.
            This works about the same for virtually every possible “break through” technology.

    • Apparently, the only “big project” that the Democrats (which I guess includes Obama) have put forward so far is maintaining big government.  This is really just “more some” of the status quo.  Even Alvin Greene could grasp this idea.
      Frankly, short of finding an extraterrestrial alien or ultraterrestrial  with fusion or anti-matter reactor plans in their back pocket, Obama is dead in the water.

  • There is a theme that has been perking in my little brain for a couple of days; contempt and condescension.
    I had not until this morning read Taranto’s excellent piece…
    But I had read Obama’s remarks on the Beck rally, which reek with contempt and condescension.
    So, too, does this piece in the NYT.  It presupposes that THEY CAN know a great direction THEY should lead the rest of us in, that WE REQUIRE that, and WE WILL FOLLOW, setting aside all our very well-founded criticisms, concerns, and principles.
    So, that is the touch-stone of our time in America; the contempt and condescension of the elitists…the Collective…for the rest of us.  It explains much.

  • A remake of our ageing infrastructure is actually a good idea.  too bad we didn’t build any of it with our stimulus.  Too bad the leftists had to waste all that money on political payoffs and payola for their crony groups.

  • There was a revealing moment in early August when Obama told an audience at a Texas fundraiser: “We have spent the last 20 months governing. They spent the last 20 months politicking.”

    … all of this reminds me of an old Jay Leno joke (from back before he was the Tonight Show host). Leno refers to an TV commercial with an actor who play a doctor in a soap opera …

    I’m not a doctor, but I do play a doctor on television

    … Leno replies …

    Buddy .. you ain’t no actor either

    If Obama thinks he has been governing for the last 20 months, I’ve got news for him.

  • This is a plea to steal the right’s fire before they get burned.

  • The question then is whether Mr. Obama will lead. He cannot force Congress to act, but he could pre-empt Republicans’ diatribes — on the deficit, on small business, on taxes — with tough truths and a big mission that would tie together the strategies and the sacrifices that will be needed to put the economy right.

    “Republican diatribes”.  Nice, unbiased, totally neutral reporting, eh?  If the GOP warns that the budget deficits are unsustainable, or that we’ve wasted billions on “stimulus”, or that ObamaCare is a budget-busting boondoggle, these are “diatribes”.  If The Dear Golfer speaks, they are “hard truths”.  Was it a hard truth when he said that we HAD to pass Porkulus RIGHT AWAY?  Was it a hard truth when he said that, if we passed Porkulus, unemployment wouldn’t go above 8% (or whatever the promise was)?  Has he been telling hard truths when he’s talked about jobs “created or saved”?  Has he been telling hard truths when he’s flip-flopped on a variety of issues from Gitmo to A-stan to the GZM?

    This is all part and parcel of the dems’ favorite excuse for being clobbered: “We aren’t getting our message out effectively enough.” It’s NEVER a question about their policies; it’s always that those diabolical folks in the GOP, Fox News, Rush, Hannity, etc. are – somehow – more persuasive than the brilliant, selfless guiding lights of the left.  Therefore, the Dear Golfer doesn’t need to actually do much of anything other than make the RIGHT speech, state the RIGHT “hard truths”, issue the RIGHT rebuttals to GOP “diatribes”, etc.

    He needs to rally the nation around a big idea — a project that is worth sacrificing for, worth paying for, worth working for. One that lets them know that there is more ahead than just a return to a status quo of lopsided growth in which corporate profits surge while jobs and incomes lag.

    I have heard that Woodrow Wilson (aka Obama v1.0) lamented that progressivism lacked the rousing appeal of war; it’s just so hard to get people to feel the same way about such things as financial regulations and public works as they do about defending the country.  The NYT is encountering the same problem: we’ve GOT to find something to rally the hoipoloi, some great leap forward that will inspire them with the zeal to sacrifice even more of their income* to taxation so that their betters leaders can make this country what it really OUGHT to be.


    (*) And their childrens’, and their childrens’ childrens’, etc.