"Our Country!
In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right;
but right or wrong, our country!"

    --Commodore Stephen Decatur

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Rise of Hoover-Carterism

Remember when President Obama was popular? Last year, when the media was spreading stimulus propaganda, the meme was "worst downturn since the great depression." As an incredible testament to the power of groupthink, that exact phrase returns more than 700,000 results on google.

Of course, when Obama enjoyed high approval numbers, the "worst downturn" trope was a good thing! By trumping up the scale of the disaster, liberal media types thought they were giving support to the argument at the time that Obama, in his exalted greatness, was going to rescue us all like F.D.R. supposedly did back in the '30's.

But now Obama is not popular. Instead of being "somebody else's mess" that Obama was going to clean up, the "worst downturn" is becoming a real political liability for the current administration. Even more tellingly, comparisons of Obama to Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter are becoming more frequent.  As Niles Gardinier put it in the Telegraph the other day:
In contrast to the soaring rhetoric of his 2004 Convention speech in Boston which succeeded in impressing millions of television viewers at the time, America is no longer inspired by Barack Obama’s flat, monotonous and often dull presidential speeches and statements delivered via teleprompter. From his extraordinarily uninspiring Afghanistan speech at West Point to his flat State of the Union address, President Obama has failed to touch the heart of America. Even Jimmy Carter was more moving.
Like a motorcycle daredevil, Obama promised us he could jump the moon only to crash and burn. Unlike the fickle opinions of media elites, the immutable laws of gravity--and of economics--are not swayed by flashy self-promotion and arrogant bravado. As a symptom of this, the New York Times includes this hilarious quote in an article about the dismal condition of the economy:
Mr. Herzon said that he was not expecting a double-dip back into recession, however. “It’s difficult to point to a shock that would be bad enough to put the economy back into a recession,” he said. “I just think it means that this recovery is going to be slower and more painful than we originally expected.”
In the words of Tanto, "Who do you mean 'we,' kemo sabe?" How could anyone have honestly expected to go from the "worst downturn since the great depression" to the "summer of recovery" within a year or even two years? The media's unaccountable optimism that massive Keynesian spending, increased regulation, higher taxes, and crippling uncertainty in the marketplace would somehow produce different results this time around is only matched by Obama's own audacity and self-regard. As Adam Smith wrote:
The uniform, constant, and uninterrupted effort of every man to better his condition, the principle from which public and national, as well as private opulence is originally derived, is frequently powerful enough to maintain the natural progress of things towards improvement, in spite both of the extravagance of government, and of the greatest errors of administration. Like the unknown principle of animal life, it frequently restores health and vigour to the constitution, in spite not only of the disease, but of the absurd prescriptions of the doctor.
Ironically, Adam Smith's medical metaphor is especially apt when we consider that Obama's blind and irrational obsession with health care reform has done more harm to the economy than his inaction with regard to tax cuts. Like Adam Smith's quack doctor, Obama has given our economy a medical treatment far worse and more damaging than the disease it was meant to cure. We can only hope that Dr. Obama's euthusiasm for snake oil and liver pills does not kill the patient entirely before it has a chance to recover on its own.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Guest Posts

The Prolix Patriot is featured today at the Washington Examiner and at the American Principles Project.  Check them out and show your support!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Drain the Swamp"

A view of the House chamber during recess.

A month before Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi famously declared that it was time to "drain the swamp." The Democrats' November victory that year was widely seen as a public repudiation of Republican abuses, especially Abramoff's web of corruption.

As a result of widespread scandals, four Republicans--Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, and Mark Foley--were forced out of office and two spent time in jail. Meanwhile, Harry Reid and Patrick Kennedy are still in office despite being caught in their own scandals in 2006.

Today, Democrats Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters are in big trouble over ethics violations, John Kerry is in the news for evading Massachusetts sales and property taxes, and Al Gore is seeking a divorce amid accusations of sexual misconduct. Plus ├ža change! At least in 2006, none of the public figures embroiled in scandal were former Presidential candidates.

Nevertheless, today's New York Times explains this all away as nothing more than "a heightened sensitivity in Washington to indiscretions by members of Congress." The Times goes on to explain Rangel’s particular "indiscretions:"

...there was an unusually close overlap, the committee contended, between appeals for donations and his intervention on legislative matters, citing in particular a meeting Mr. Rangel held in 2007 at a New York hotel with an executive from an oil drilling company at which he made a bid for a donation and also discussed a tax break the company was seeking.

The executive, Eugene Isenberg, and his company ended up making a $1 million contribution to the educational center, and Mr. Rangel helped the company secure a tax break worth an estimated $500 million.
In addition to soliciting contributions for an educational institution bearing his name, Rangel also failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars of income in Congressional disclosure forms and did not pay any taxes on rental income from his Dominican villa until 2008, after his misconduct had already been made public. Rangel's former Republican colleagues went to jail for similar "indiscretions."

In light of these scandals, Speaker Pelosi seems to have failed on her promise to create the "most ethical Congress in history." It's enough to make one wonder whether Democrats and the liberal press used ethics as a prop for temporary political advantage back in 2006. But lest we jump to any conclusions, Pelosi explained last week that she only meant to drain the Republican side of the swamp. We'll see if voters buy it in November.