Jonah Goldberg has put into words what I have been thinking and feeling since the financial meltdown of 2008. We have turned a page and entered a new era in American history. He wonders if, as a result, the political rules have changed.
But what about when the rules change? For nearly a century now, the rules have said that tough economic times make big government more popular. For more than 40 years it has been a rule that environmental disasters — and scares over alleged ones — help environmentalists push tighter regulations. According to the rules, Americans never want to let go of an entitlement once they have it. According to the rules, populism is a force for getting the government to do more, not less. According to the rules, Americans don’t care about the deficit during a recession.
And yet none of these rules seem to be applying; at least not too strongly. Big government seems more unpopular today than ever. The Gulf oil spill should be a Gaiasend for environmentalists, and yet three quarters of the American people oppose Obama’s drilling ban. Sixty percent of likely voters want their newly minted right to health care repealed. Unlike Europe, where protestors take to the streets to save their cushy perks and protect a large welfare state, the Tea Party protestors have been taking to the streets to trim back government.
Go here to read the rest at Townhall. When Obama won election there was much talk among his giddy acolytes in the media that he was the second FDR and that Obama would usher in a Second New Deal. The cover of Time magazine that graces the top of this post is a prime example of the millennial fever that gripped the Left in this country at the beginning of the Obama administration. Now it has all turned to dust and ashes for a large section of the Left. In exchange for years of effort on their part they have an administration that has roused an angry electorate against it. This bemuses the Left since many of them view the Obama administration as a failure because it has been too moderate (Yeah, I do find that hilarious), as noted by Eric Alterman in The Nation:
Few progressives would take issue with the argument that, significant accomplishments notwithstanding, the Obama presidency has been a big disappointment. As Mario Cuomo famously observed, candidates campaign in poetry but govern in prose. Still, Obama supporters have been asked to swallow some painfully “prosaic” compromises. In order to pass his healthcare legislation, for instance, Obama was required to specifically repudiate his pledge to prochoice voters to “make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as president.” That promise apparently was lost in the same drawer as his insistence that “Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange…including a public option.” Labor unions were among his most fervent and dedicated foot soldiers, as well as the key to any likely progressive political renaissance, and many were no doubt inspired by his pledge “to fight for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.” Yet that act appears deader than Jimmy Hoffa. Environmentalists were no doubt steeled through the frigid days of New Hampshire canvassing by Obama’s promise that “As president, I will set a hard cap on all carbon emissions at a level that scientists say is necessary to curb global warming—an 80 percent reduction by 2050.” That goal appears to have gone up the chimney in thick black smoke. And remember when Obama promised, right before the election, to “put in place the common-sense regulations and rules of the road I’ve been calling for since March—rules that will keep our market free, fair and honest; rules that will restore accountability and responsibility in our corporate boardrooms”? Neither, apparently, does he… Indeed, if one examines the gamut of legislation passed and executive orders issued that relate to the promises made by candidate Obama, one can only wince at the slightly hyperbolic joke made by late night comedian Jimmy Fallon, who quipped that the president’s goal appeared to be to “finally deliver on the campaign promises made by John McCain.”
What has actually happened is really very simple to understand. Obama did try the nostrums of the New Deal in 2009. He passed the huge stimulus. He has increased government regulation. It hasn’t worked. The Great Recession continues. Unlike Roosevelt, Obama lacks the salesmanship to convince the American people that a manifestly bad economy is on the mend. More to the point, this increase in government spending is occurring when most Americans have become convinced that rampant overspending on government is the problem and not the solution. So we have a move to bigger government which manifestly has failed to deliver what it promised: a return to prosperity.
When FDR brought forth the New Deal it was something new in American history. Obama’s embrace of bigger government is merely more of the same since the New Deal. Instead of new solutions to a bad situation, Obama has offered tired ideas that have had no positive impact.
I believe that this Great Recession will prove as transformative in American politics as the Great Depression. Obama and his supporters thought that he was FDR2. Instead, in one of those frequent historical ironies that convinces me that God has an infinite sense of humor, Obama will quite likely be remembered as Hoover2, a man who inherited a bad economy, who was at his wits end as to what to do about it, and who was the last gasp of a dying political era. Rather than breathing new life into the New Deal, the Obama administration is singing its funeral dirge.