June 21, 2010

THE SECOND WAY'S LAST GASP:

The Agony of the Liberals (ROSS DOUTHAT, 6/20/10, NY Times)

As Tyler Cowen wrote last week: “advocates of fiscal stimulus make it sound as simple as solving an undergraduate homework problem and ... sometimes genuinely do not realize how much the rest of the world, including politicians, views them as simply being very convinced by their own theory.” Nor do they acknowledge how much risk those same politicians have already taken on (with the first stimulus, the health care bill, and much else besides) in the name of theoretical propositions, while reaping little for their efforts save an ever-grimmer fiscal picture.

But it’s here, with the looming fiscal crisis, that the more legitimate liberal fear comes in. Liberals had hoped that Obama’s election marked the beginning of a long progressive era — a new New Deal, a greater Great Society. Instead, from the West Coast to Western Europe, the welfare state is in crisis everywhere they look. The future suddenly seems to belong to austerity and retrenchment — and even, perhaps, to conservatism.

In this environment, the rage against Obama for not doing more, now, faster, becomes at least somewhat understandable. It’s not that he hasn’t done a great deal for liberals during his 18 months in office. It’s that liberalism itself may be running out of time.


We're headed for a reverse 1992, in which the GOP takeover will be credited for an economic revival with which it has little to do, just as all Bill Clinton had to do was sit back and reap the Peace Dividend that Reagan/Bush handed him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 21, 2010 5:55 AM
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