Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Reality Bites Obama

Apparently, this morning’s NBC interview with Matt Lauer (which Jennifer wrote about earlier) was rich in clues to the mindset of Barack Obama. Perhaps most interesting is that Obama set the stage for a veritable bazaar of fresh flip-flops. Here’s Mike Allen, at the Politico:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said in an interview aired Tuesday that the cost of the mortgage bailout plan may rein in his ambitious plans for health care, energy, education and infrastructure.

[...]

Obama told NBC’s Matt Lauer on the “Today” show that he doesn’t expect the mortgage plan to cost the full $700 billion right away, and all the money won’t be lost.

“Does that mean that I can do everything that I’ve called for in this campaign right away?” Obama said. “Probably not. I think we’re going to have to phase it in. And a lot of it’s going to depend on what our tax revenues look like.”

Real-world contingencies have a way of impeding Obama’s utopian ambitions. But it would be a sign of the candidate’s seriousness if he could factor reality into his plans beforehand. And it would also clarify for voters just what they’re voting for. Whether it’s talking to America’s enemies, “ending” a war because it’s ugly, or showing restraint in off-shore drilling, Obama’s vows tend to get derailed on the way to fruition. And you can say that the current financial meltdown was an unforeseeable emergency (or a “game-changer,” as Obama likes to say). But what are leaders for, if not to put the country on the best possible footing should we be struck by an unforeseeable emergency? There will always, after all, be unforeseeable emergencies.

Barack Obama wants to quell the oceans, cool the planet, and feed the hungry. Who doesn’t? But it turns out the dispensing of miracles is “going to depend on what our tax revenues look like.” No matter what he told Matt Lauer, a revenue shortage doesn’t simply mean you slow the implementation of initiatives. Obama, should he become president, will have to engage in a vast restructuring of the programs he promised to deliver. If you’re going to stagger out certain energy, education, infrastructure, and health care policies, those policies need to be designed with a staggered timetable in mind. You can’t decide to build half a school or a quarter of a wind farm and then wait on revenue. This leaves Obama’s grand plans precisely nowhere. But he can probably cover over that frightening fact for the next month and a half with a little help from his friends in the press.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.