Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

David Brooks remains torn.  The president is not governing as the candidate he promised to be, but instead as a far left pol. Brooks declares Obama’s budget is “far more honest” than the ones that preceded it, but then proceeds to tell us how it really isn’t. (It is less honest than even Brooks concedes, actually.) It must be grating to those with such high hopes  to see “a weird passivity emanating from the White House, a deference to the Washington establishment.”

Larry Kudlow isn’t mincing words in his evaluation: “Let me be very clear on the economics of President Obama’s address to Congress and budget. He is declaring war on investors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, large corporations, and private-equity and venture-capital funds. That is the meaning of his anti-growth tax-hike proposals, which make absolutely no sense at all — either for this recession or from the standpoint of expanding our economy’s long-run potential to grow.”

Obama does have a way with words, Rich Lowry concedes. “Obama is a talented, but a wily and dishonest, salesman. Nineteenth-century pol Martin Van Buren earned the sobriquet ‘the little magician’ for his skillful manipulation of New York’s political machine. Obama is the rhetorical magician, depending — as all magicians do — on deft sleight of hand. In his speech, Obama didn’t want his listeners to think he’s a big-government heir to Lyndon Johnson, so he talked of slashing waste. He said his team had begun going ‘line by line’ through the budget, and ‘we have already identified $2 trillion in savings over the next decade.'” Read the whole thing, as they say.

Fred Barnes thinks Obama is in campaign mode, avoiding hard choices and playing the role of “quick change artist.” He concludes, “Financial markets have already registered a vote of no confidence in Obama’s economic plan. But the political community and the public are reserving judgment. At some point, reality will intrude, followed by accountability. But not yet.”

Perhaps Obama, for all his eloquence, was insufficiently clear on Iraq during the campaign. He snipes at Pelosi-Reid generated criticism: “They, maybe, weren’t paying attention to what I said during the campaign.” Well I guess it depends what part of the campaign.

Fiscal conservatives were duped says the Beagle Blogger.

Voters were also conned about that post-racial business.

The oppo-researcher, non-lawyer hired by the White House counsel office (imagine if the Bush administration had done this) leaves to go back to the DNC.

Charles Hurt writes: “This year alone, deficit spending will be $1.8 trillion. But even among Democrats, there remain some deficit hawks who will choke, and that will lead to only one solution: even bigger tax hikes than the president already has proposed. This may be the ‘change’ Obama was dreaming about, but it won’t be what people were hoping for.”

How irrelevant is a poll on the GOP 2012 contenders in February 2009? Very.

Megan McArdle writes: “I think it is decidedly iffy whether congress actually passes any cap and trade system with teeth.  For a cap and trade system to work, it will have to make energy more expensive at a time when incomes are declining.  This will be very, very, very unpopular.  I imagine the Democrats will try to get the Republicans to kill it for them, but they don’t have much margin–one flipping Republican in the Senate and a few in the house should let them pass it.  If the Republicans are smart, they will provide three moderate Republicans in the Senate,  a few Republicans from safe seats in the House, and make the Democrats suffer the consequences of raising the price of gas and electricity.  But I doubt they’ll be smart; they’ll do Pelosi’s dirty work for her.” No, generally a minority party doesn’t recover unless it opposes asinine policies and sets itself up as the alternative. Moreover, it never pays to harm the country.

Is the administration’s design for nationalized healthcare sinking healthcare stocks? Looks that way.  But it’s not just healthcare. Don Luskin says, “The mask is off. He is trying to socialize this country.” Watch the whole thing.

It does seem that the entire market is imploding.

You can see why people might be nervous.

Jon Chait slams Chas Freeman in the Washington Post, but uses up much of the precious platform slamming “neocons” who believe “good guys” should fight “bad guys.” (Were Truman, FDR and JFK neocons? Churchill too, I suppose.) Mislabeling Freeman a “realist” doesn’t help matters and Chait oddly avoids quoting in detail exactly what Freeman has said or explaining Freeman’s monetary dependence on the House of Saud. (Was this thrown together in an hour using recycled lines from other columns?) The entire theme that Obama’s picks are as bad as Bush’s is not only unsubstantiated, but poor form for a supporter of the candidate who was supposed to be better than all who preceded him.

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