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Bill Keller’s First Column

Bill Keller stepped down recently as executive editor of the New York Times and made his debut today as an op-ed columnist.

Well, you certainly can’t fault him for failing to come up with a refreshing new look at the country’s problems. According to Keller, Barack Obama’s political woes are George Bush’s fault.

The decline in Obama’’s political fortunes, the Great Disappointment, can be attributed to four main factors: the intractable legacy bequeathed by George W. Bush; Republican resistance amounting to sabotage; the unrealistic expectations and inevitable disenchantment of some of the president’’s supporters; and, to be sure, the man himself.

Obama inherited a country in such distress that his Inaugural Address alluded to George Washington at Valley Forge, marking “this the winter of our hardship.” Unfunded wars, supply-side deficits, twin housing and banking crises enabled by an orgy of regulatory permissiveness– that was the legacy Obama assumed.

Boy, talk about the liberal bubble. The Republicans, it seems, have a constitutional duty to roll over and play dead if a liberal is in the White House. They have
no principles worth having, after all, so if they don’t surrender them, it’s “sabotage.” The unfunded wars were also unfunded by the Democrats who were firmly in control of Congress for the last two years of Bush’s term. The orgy of regulatory permissiveness that brought about the housing and banking crises included the distinctly liberal demand everyone own a home regardless of their ability to pay for it (if they don’t, it is racism). It also featured the furious (and successful) opposition of the likes of Senator Chris Dodd and Representative Barney Frank, both liberal Democrats, to strengthening regulation on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which lay at the heart of the housing and financial crises, and which George Bush had called for. The supply-side deficits, caused by the Bushtaxcutsfortherich (that’s one word in Liberal Land), saw federal revenues climb 44 percent between 2003 and 2007 and the deficit decline from $412 billion in 2004 to $162 billion in 2007.

Another toxic legacy of the Bush years is an angry conservative populism, in which government is viewed as tyranny and compromise as apostasy. The Tea Party faction has captured not only the Republican primary process, but to a large extent the national conversation and the legislative machinery.

It captured the legislative machinery because the American people voted overwhelmingly for it. Translation: The people are stupid and easily misled. But, of course, if that is true, why can’t those oh-so-smart liberal intellectuals like the New York Times editorial board and its op-ed columnists lead them to the light? What is the matter with Kansas?

This is the sort of stuff liberals say to each other as they sit on the porches of their Nantucket summer houses, drink Chablis, nibble brie, and worry about the poor.

Is there the slightest reason to even glance at Bill Keller’s next op-ed column? Judging from the first one, the answer is no. I already know what it’s going to say.

 


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