In a Monday post on her Daily Beast (“Obama’s Morning-After Plan“), Tina Brown seems to think Barack Obama’s big problem is personality — that if the president quit acting like an intellectual stuffed shirt and opened himself up to the people by using the bully pulpit, all would be well. “As from Wednesday,” Ms. Brown tells us, “I’d like the president to stop being so high-minded about avoiding corny symbolic theatrics and start playing to win.”
In other words, we’re dopes. We don’t know what the president’s doing. And if we did, we’d all be grateful and follow along like dutiful puppies.
Sorry, Tina, that is some of the most wishful thinking I have read since Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History. And it’s not nearly as imaginative.
What America is recoiling from is not Obama’s elitist standoffishness (though that doesn’t help), it’s his policies. People don’t want a health care plan passed so hastily that even the Speaker of the House admits she hasn’t read it, a bailout of an inept and bloated automobile company, a stimulus plan that has no discernible positive result, a potential cap-and-trade plan when anthropogenic global warming is turning into a scientific joke, massive unemployment with numbers that were previously unthinkable and, most of all, a national debt so large the federal government and all fifty (not fifty-seven) states may soon be bankrupt.
Beyond that, there is something else that Obama must face that cannot be handled by mere bully pulpits and public relations. Liberalism, as we currently conceive it, is dead. Liberalism’s linchpin (Keynesian economics) — and its handmaiden (deficit spending) can no longer be justified. With an aging population, the welfare state has morphed into an unsustainable Ponzi scheme. The math does not compute and, whether Tina Brown realizes it or not, the public is very aware of that. Above all reasons, that is why the Tea Party movement exists.
So Barack Obama cannot so easily use the traditional arsenal of Democratic Party liberals, spending his way out of trouble by throwing money at interest groups. It can’t be afforded anymore and the public knows it. They are outraged.
Other leaders know it too. Angela Merkel recently attacked Obama for wanting to increase deficit spending. (Germany is booming as America flails.) Sarkozy is cutting back on entitlements.
Yet Tina Brown thinks it can all be solved by hiring some version of Rogers & Cowan and getting the president to “man up.” If only it were that simple. In fact, it’s a mess.