Ed Driscoll

Gee, Our Old LaSalle Ran Great

Mister, we’ve got a man like Herbert Hoover again, Jonah Goldberg writes:

The creation myth of the modern Democratic party goes something like this: After years of capitalist excess, exemplified by Hoover’s “market fundamentalism,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt introduced reasonable and pragmatic reforms that not only conquered the Great Depression but “saved democracy” itself.

Over the last two years, Obama and his defenders have constantly invoked this story to buttress the case for Obama’s “new foundation” — his version of a new New Deal.

Whatever the problems with this story — and there are many — the simple fact is that history has happened. We live with the consequences of the New Deal. Its institutions — Social Security, the FDIC, etc. —are all around us, as are the progeny from the Great Society, another effort to replay the New Deal as if it were a new idea.

On liberals’ own terms, to argue that we need something like another New Deal or Great Society is to argue that these institutions either don’t exist or don’t work. But few, if any, liberals say anything like that. Instead, they change the subject. They talk about the Bush years as if they were a cross between a libertarian fantasy and an anarchist dystopia à la Mad Max.

Here’s Obama in his Cleveland speech Wednesday, describing the philosophy that defined the Bush years: “Cut taxes, especially for millionaires and billionaires. Cut regulations for special interests. Cut trade deals even if they didn’t benefit our workers. Cut back on investments in our people and our future — in education and clean energy, in research and technology. The idea was that if we had blind faith in the market, if we let corporations play by their own rules, if we left everyone else to fend for themselves, America would grow and prosper.”

What movie was he watching? At best this is a Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robot battle between delusion and dishonesty. Rhetorically, Bush never advocated anything like any of this. Indeed, Bush the compassionate conservative described his philosophy thus: “When somebody hurts, government has got to move.” More concretely, under Bush we had massive spending increases on education, alternative energy, the National Institutes of Health, and health care. We saw the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, and the trade deals Bush pushed are now part of the Obama agenda.

But Obama needs to spout such hogwash in order to sell some very old “new” ideas.

It hasn’t worked. Americans understand this isn’t 1932 or 1964. Some even understand that many of our problems — housing? entitlements? — stem from the liberal accomplishments of the 1930s and 1960s. Professional liberals, however, remain in denial, insisting they suffer from a “communications” problem or some such nonsense.

The irony of course, is that Obama was predicted to be the next Hoover by the starboard half of the Blogosphere while he was running. Far left Harper’s magazine even stumbled over the comparison themselves last year, when they created the above graphic.

And speaking of communication problems, in the Washington Examiner, Noemie Emery catches E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post trying to shill for the president his newspaper bet ranch on in 2008 waaaaay too hard:

“Seen from the inside, the administration is an astonishing success,” says E.J. Dionne of the beleaguered regime of his president. “Inside of what?” one is tempted to ask, but by some lights, it’s true.

President Obama has pushed through a whole lot of bills, and people hate all of them, a historic result accomplished by no other president. Of course, no other has tried.

“It’s a losing-by-winning dynamic,” says Michael Goodwin, as most presidents suffer when their agenda is stifled. He is the first to be in really deep trouble because his agenda has passed.

Inside the bubble (the bunker? the madhouse?), the celebration, and the confusion, go on.

“No good deed goes unpunished,” says Jonathan Alter, who agrees with Dionne, who agrees with Joe Klein this has all been historic, and who all urged Obama to be still more heroic by dissing the voters to follow their dream.

When his polls tanked, when swing voters fled, when Virginia, New Jersey and then Massachusetts all smacked him upside, they told him to ignore them, and the New Yorker, the New Republic and the liberal bloggers all urged him on. Health care would emerge as his passport to greatness.

“Pass. The. Damn. Bill.” They urged on their Web sites. He did.

He passed the damn bill, and the People. Abhorred. It.

They said people would like it once it was passed, and it would help them keep Congress. “Health reform has been a political dud for Democrats,” Mike Allen wrote April 1. “Registered voters say they prefer Republican to Democratic candidates in their district by 47 to 44.”

They said it would become popular, and help the president. “53 percent disapprove, 41 percent approve, 6 percent unsure,” said a Marist poll, noting that nothing had changed since December “53 percent say their opinion of the president has not changed in the wake of the passage,” while 29 percent said their opinion of him had grown worse.

Jonathan Chait of the New Republic said if the bill wasn’t passed, the party’s base would be demoralized and it “would be a recipe not just to lose the House, but to lose 50, 60, 80 seats.” The base right now is extremely demoralized, and the loss of “50, 60, 80 seats” in the House is exactly what pundits are talking of now.

If the left used the stagnant economy under Hoover as cudgel in their attempt to destroy free-market economics, could the reverse happen as voters wake up to the failure of Obamanomics?

That’s a topic that James Glassman explores at Commentary — but such pushback will require someone who can articulately defend his ground — and not be bullied by the opposition.

Does such a man exist? It certainly seems that way in New Jersey:

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