Novus Ordo Seclorum
Obama has been very good in lowering expectations by reminding us 24/7 that there are no easy solutions to the present fiscal meltdown. True enough. But why then a continuation of the megalomaniac sets—the retracing of the Lincoln Illinois trip to the inauguration in the spirit of vero possumus, the Victory Column, the Greek temple convention sets, etc?
The more he willingly takes on the Lincolnesque or Caesarian mantle, the more the media worries that we have put too many expectations on Obama. Well, surely one way to lower our expectations would be to take a night-flight on a 737 to DC from Chicago, rather than reenact train-bound Young Mr. Lincoln. (Remember, unlike Lincoln, Obama flew back to Chicago from DC to take the train back to DC again). It sort of reminds one of the lectures about the Obama family off limits / Obama family center stage for photo-ops and interviews.
One President at a Time
Obama was also insistent that there is only one President at a time—well, sort of at least. On the economy, however, he started issuing communiqués weeks ago; on Gaza, in contrast, it was silence and all Bush’s. Note the Israelis just stopped in Gaza. Odd timing? They are unsure of the reaction of the Obama administration, fearing an off-handed sympathetic remark about Hamas, or, more likely, eager not to leave him with an embarrassing situation on his first day in office that he might not forget.
I wrote an essay about Bush’s successes for the Monday National Review Online. Here are some disappointments:
a. Cronyism: I don’t think Scott McClellan, Harriet Meyers, Michael Brown, etc. were employable outside the White House.
b. First-term spending: the gargantuan leap in the size of the federal government discredited the tax cuts (that brought in more revenue) and the entire notion that Republicans were financial watch-dogs.
c. The Iraq war was authorized on 23 Congressional counts—not just WMD. So why focus on that alone?
d. Why do administration figures conduct engaging and spirited interviews and defenses of policies in the last two weeks of their tenure, but not the last eight years?
e. Congressional Democrats were not bipartisan Texas Democrats: not vetoing their bills as the price for their support of the war meant endless red-ink.
f. Loudly with a small stick: Bellicose rhetoric like smoke ‘em out or dead or alive cannot be juxtaposed to pulling back from Fallujah in April 2004, or giving a reprieve to Sadr.
g. Katrina was mostly a state and local breakdown, coupled with a culture of dependence fostered by federal entitlement: Had Bush landed, sloshed around in the muck, had a photo-op wet and muddy, yelled at some bureaucrats, then the press would not have not so easily turned it into a racist genocidal plot.
h. The financial meltdown was in part due to letting Frank, Dodd, Rains, etc. ruin Fannie and Freddie, the result of hundreds of billions of additional debt, and naïve promotion of an ‘ownership society’, when about 30% of the population always has no business owning the responsibilities of a home.
All the above is set off against a corruption free, honest Bush governance (cf. the Blago/Obama nominees pre-office problems), lack of another 9/11 at home, constitutional governments in place of the Taliban and Saddam, a decimation of Al Qaeda, with negative polls in the Middle East for bin Laden and suicide bombing, no more nuclear processing in Libya, Dr. Khan shut down, Syrians out of Lebanon, pro-US governments in Europe, good relations with China and India, the Obama acceptance of the Bush anti-terror framework, crashing oil prices, an isolated Ahmadinejad and Chavez, two good Supreme Court Justices, etc.)