January 21, 2010

THE POINT BEING THAT THERE'S A SUCCESSFUL MODEL FOR HIM TO EMULATE:

Barack Obama will be a one-term president if he doesn't ditch his statism: Barack Obama's only chance of a legacy is to stop thinking like Gordon Brown and start emulating Bill Clinton (Alex Singleton, 21 Jan 2010, Daily Telegraph)

It is too early to have expected Barack Obama to have brought change to America or the world, but the president is risking becoming a curious footnote in history - the first black president, but a president who failed to achieve his domestic reforms, who carried on George W. Bush's programme in Iraq, and who was thrown out after his first term.

Mr Obama's only option, if he wants to rescue his presidency, is to follow Bill Clinton's example and ditch the more extreme aspects of his statism - including his support for a whole catalogue of tax rises - and instead support moderate reforms. By 1996, Clinton declared that the era of big government was over. Mr Clinton ditched HilaryCare - his wife's 1993 heath care plan - and worked with Republicans in Congress to support a genuinely good programme of reforms.

Just like Mr Obama, Mr Clinton was openly hostile to free trade during his election campaign - prefering protectionist grips over trade, rather than the greater efficiency and freedom that comes from the market. He became an ardent supporter of the North American Free Trade Area, which he got through Congress, just as he did with the GATT agreement, which created the World Trade Organisation.

With a global halo, the current American president is just the man to push forward further deals, thereby raising living standards around the world. Yet his administration has prevented a revival of the Doha round of trade talks, which are dying in a ditch, by demanding more concessions from middle-income countries, while Mr Obama seems far more interested in squandering taxpayers' money on America's largely pointless and sick car industry.

There's another thing Mr Obama could learn from Mr Clinton: the former president dropped his hosility for welfare reform - indeed, he became its most enthusiastic proponent.


Actually, Bill Clinton's problem was that, like the UR, he'd run Right on issues like taxes, trade and welfare reform but then yielded to the legislative desires of congressional Democrats once he won. In order for a Democrat to win the presidency he has to run as a conservative. To retain it he better govern that way.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 21, 2010 6:54 AM
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