January 7, 2010

SURPRISING?:

Can Cocksure Obama Change Course -- and Keep His Nerve? (Michael Barone, 1/07/10, Real Clear Politics)

The unpopularity of the stimulus package, cap-and-trade legislation and the various health care bills probably surprised the congressional Democratic leaders who put them together and the president who, with surprising passivity, indicated he would sign them. After all, weren't these ways to spread the wealth to ordinary people, as Obama put it to Joe the Plumber?

But through most of our history, Americans have preferred policies that enable and help them to amass wealth rather than those that purport to transfer someone else's wealth to them. The biggest outpouring of political sentiment this year came from those who thronged to "tea parties" and denounced increases in the national debt as stirringly as did the first Democratic president, Andrew Jackson, who actually paid it all off.

On foreign policy, Obama imagined that confessing past American sins, announcing the closing of Guantanamo and abandoning enhanced interrogation techniques would make Islamist terrorists think better of the United States. He thought he could induce the leaders of enemy nations to change their ways by referring respectfully to regimes like Iran's and downplaying all talk of human rights abuses.

It turns out that just as the financial crisis and recession did not much change Americans' fundamental attitudes on the balance between government and markets, so emollient talk and confessions of past American sins did not much change the behavior of those who consider America a sworn enemy.


He ran on passivity.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 7, 2010 5:33 PM
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