The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Nation

The Nation is a magazine and website that is unabashedly pro-Obama. Its editorial content is an excellent window into the thinking of those on the Left of the political landscape. It was something of a surprise, therefore, to see the following comment from The Nation’s Editors:
Barack Obama is trapped in ominous economic circumstances, partly of his own making, and time is running out for his presidency. The character traits that got him to the White House—the cool style of avoiding sharp-edged conflict and mediating political differences—threaten now to make him a one-term president. Character is destiny. At this point, only Obama can save Obama, but to do that he must change himself.

This grim prognosis may sound premature, but bad economic news confirms what we have been warning for months: the president’s strategy is failing. People know this. The longer Obama persists in claiming things are on the right track, the more he damages his credibility. Severe economic distress is what defeats incumbent presidents (cf. George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter).

The editors are realistic in their assessment, but they then diverge from reality and place blame on the hated Republicans who they argue would “obstruct” more stimulus spending. Following the lead of Leftist economists such as Paul Krugman and Robert Reich, the editors are convinced that more spending and even bigger government are the only road that will avert economic calamity. They write:
He [Obama] has to force his opponents out into plain view and turn their vicious behavior into a political asset for himself. He can achieve this by demonstrating concretely whose side he is on. First, he must acknowledge that although his original stimulus helped avert a depression, it failed to produce a robust recovery. Next, he must propose a battery of emergency measures that deliver directly to citizens who are suffering—job creation, foreclosure avoidance, prosecution of fraudulent bankers and other interventions that will help ordinary citizens survive the hard times. He shouldn’t overpromise on results, already a mistake of his presidency. But he should make it clear that he intends to help people stay above water, however long the troubles last.

Let’s consider this for just a moment. Since by their own admission, a three quarter trillion stimulus “failed to produce a robust recovery,” we need to do more of it? Since “emergency measures that deliver directly to citizens who are suffering—job creation, foreclosure avoidance, prosecution of fraudulent bankers and other interventions” have failed to create jobs, have failed to stem the tide of foreclosures, have allowed the financial sector to continue business as usual, we should try them all again? And “other interventions” are what exactly? Following the lead of the President, no details or specificity is provided. In the view of the editors, lets make believe the deficit isn't a very serious problem and adopt the fantasy that we can use taxpayer money to spend our way out of it.

On the other hand, the President’s opponents believe that when tactics fail demonstrably, you must change tactics.

The President’s opponents have committed another crime as well. They have produced detailed plans to revive the economy. These plans rely on different tactics to be sure, but when a country is faced with “severe economic distress” it would seem reasonable to try something different when the current approach is an abject failure.

President Obama, democratic leaders, and the editors of The Nation have criticized Paul Ryan’s and Tim Pawlenty’s plans as “the failed policies of the past.” I guess the Nation's editors fail to see that the very policies they suggest are demonstrably “the failed policies” of the past two years.