Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, August 04, 2008

The Inertia Issue

As much as Americans want something new in Washington, Barack Obama's promise of change is colliding with doubts, not all of them raised by attack ads, across the political spectrum.

A new poll reported by the Washington Post shows Obama with a 2 to 1 edge over John McCain among low-wage workers, but "many are unconvinced that either presidential candidate would be better than the other at fixing the ailing economy or improving the health-care system."

At the other end of the political spectrum, George Will in his Post column chides Obama for overblown rhetoric, while conceding that his hero Ronald Reagan was also "incorrigibly fond of perhaps the least conservative, and therefore the most absurd, proposition ever penned by a political philosopher, Thomas Paine's 'we have it in our power to begin the world over again.' No. We. Don't."

In classic conservative mode, Will claims "sweeping changes are almost always calamitous consequences of calamities...Wise voters...hanker for candidates whose principal promise is that they will do their best to muddle through without breaking too much crockery."

But after eight years that produced an unwise war and a damaged economy, both Will and his doubting low-income counterparts may want to look back to the time when Americans put their trust in a president who overhauled a failing financial system with the FDIC and SEC, saved farmers from the Dust Bowl and created Social Security for the destitute old, among other "changes."

Obama may turn out to be no FDR as McCain certainly wouldn't be, but this year is more like 1932 than Reagan's 1980, and "muddle through" won't quite cut it. Inertia is tempting, but it works better in a time such as Eisenhower's with a booming economy after winning a worldwide war. Now there is broken crockery to be swept up.

1 comment:

Stimpson said...

Reagan welfare reform and supply-side economics seem like "sweeping" changes to me. I can't imagine why true conservatives like Will weren't advocating a go-slow approach during the neoconservative revolution period of President Ronnie. Except, of course, that the policies benefited them so much financially.