By July, we will come to feel that 2009 will be one of the most upbeat years in our history, as what used to be the news media∗ begins to get behind America and report on all the mysteriously wonderful things that are suddenly taking place.
All the campaign talk of the Great Depression, a Vietnam-like war, and our shredded Constitution will now thankfully subside as the Obama administration assumes office and solves problems with conciliation, dialogue, and multilateral wisdom, rather than shrillness, unilateralism, preemption, and my-way-or-the-highway dogmatism. We will hear that, by historical levels, unemployment is still not that bad, that GDP growth is not historically all that low, and that deficits, inflation, interest rates, and housing starts are all within manageable parameters. “Depression” will transmogrify into “recession” which in turn by July will be a “downturn” and by year next an “upswing” on its way to boom times.
Indeed, almost supernaturally crises will be solved with the departure of the hated Bush: no more flooding streets from cracked water mains that were a result of a President’s neglect of infrastructure, and no more spontaneous crashes of Mississippi River bridges due to diversions of critical federal aid from cash-strapped states to Iraq. And when the temperatures rise or drop, the wind howls, the clouds burst forth or go away, the snow melts or piles up, it will be, well, nature that caused the havoc, not the current occupant of the White House who failed to sign Kyoto.
As we watch the innocent die from natural mayhem, it will be due to the breakdown of local responders who now suddenly kill people, not federal inaction—except perhaps for an occasional few Bush federal holdovers that have not yet been rooted out. Human nature, of course, now will be seen more culpable, more selfish, as in needlessly resisting wise and caring federal interventions, rather than being inherently noble but shunned by an uncaring Washington. Yes, when dikes collapse and planes collide on crowed runways, it will be due to a cruel and unpredictable nature, or intrinsic design flaws, or improper local use and maintenance, or the past President’s nefarious legacy, not current government policies. (But if you still must bash the government, it will be wise to do it in 1950s style of inattentive state and local officials, prone to regional and tribal prejudices, blocking the infinite wisdom of a caring federal government.)
Some military action abroad could be necessary—and necessarily reported on as measured and reluctant, rather than cowboyish and gratuitous. European whining will be a result of miscommunications or the Euros’ unfair caricatures of Americans, not Bush’s alienation of allies. If radical Islam strikes, it will be, well, radical again and sometimes even dangerous, not a figment of neocon pipe dreams. If an administration official quits, goes on 60 Minutes, and writes a nasty tell-all book about Obama’s insensitivity and his government’s directionless ennui, he will be a heretic, a whiner, a turncoat, not a truth teller or brave maverick who blew the whistle in need of a bestseller hyped from NPR to the New York Times. We will come again to hate the filibuster, obstructionist Congressional policies, and the occasional loud-mouthed Senator who voices slurs against our nation in unpatriotic fashion.