Monday, June 22, 2009

Not Really Too Smart

At the six-month checkpoint in the Obama adminstration, Michael Barone has a few thoughts.

  1. Obama is a long-range strategy guy who is flummoxed by events that threaten the plan.
  2. Obama leaves the details to others (e.g., Congress)
  3. Obama thinks Chicago-style that "there will always be a bounteous private sector that can be plundered endlessly on behalf of political favorites."
To me, this is a recipe for disaster, and it shows that the Obama people really aren't that smart.

First, the long-range strategy, to grow government. It may not be obvious to people inside the liberal bubble, but the century-long expansion of government, already complained about by Herbert Spencer in the 1880s, is about over. Growing government is the natural thing for a politician to do, but it also creates opposition. The century-long ascendancy of the progressive educated class is starting to get people really angry. And it is anger that fuels political change.

Second the details. Details matter. Every successful businessman is a details man. You can have all the business plans in the world, but without execution of the details it will remain a glorious vision. Politicians have a problem here, because their principal expertise is getting elected. But the success of government is doing the boring, gritty details. If Obama doesn't want to bother with the details then that is the best news that conservatives have heard yet.

Third, the Chicago style. We are getting numerous sightings of Chicago-style politics, from the overall strategy of piracy and plunder to the recent flap over the firing of the inspectors general. This sort of thing may go down without a murmur in Chicago but ordinary middle-class Americans hate it. Democrats know this. That's why they made such a big deal of Bush and Republican corruption in 2006-08, and were full of talk about transparency. The truth is the Obamites don't believe in any of that transparency and good government stuff. They believe in power.

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard," said H.L. Mencken. A gentler version of that is that people need to experience things to find out whether they really like them. In 2008 people were really fed up with Republicans and decided it was time for a change.

Chances are that the change they had in mind is not the change that President Obama has in mind, neither in the grand vision, in the gritty details, or in the Chicago style.

In the next six months to a year, the American people are going to wake up to that. The president won't like it; liberals won't like it; Democrats won't like it; the mainstream media won't like it. But it won't make a bit of difference.

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