Good politicians are in tune with their times, great ones foresee them, but Obama seems out of step with his times, and behind them.
He is in the right job (he thinks), at the wrong moment, handed a crisis he never expected, and is doing his best to ignore. He was told, and believed, he was the new FDR at the start of a new age of expansion, and it would be his job to redeem the old liberal vision.
How could he know that a few months into his term the welfare state would implode both at home and in Europe, and that, instead of restoring the liberal creed toDepression-age glory, he would preside over its final demise?
Two years ago, Time had him on its cover as FDR redux, and Newsweek was saying that we were all socialists now. Soon after that, the real socialists threw in the towel in Europe, admitting their system had not been successful, urging retrenchment and large cuts in government spending.
Obama’s response was to spend still more money, tout speed rail and windmills, and treat warnings at home and abroad of a debt-fueled disaster as part of a ploy by the Right in its drive to starve children.
He seems largely annoyed at being driven off message, “distracted” (a favorite term) from the goal he came in with. This doesn’t fit in with his prior agenda. Don’t we know he has real work to do?
He treated it all as a political problem, but his reactions here have been out of sync also, and every assumption made by his friends has been wrong. They thought economic collapse would make people long for the strong hand of government; they were wrong about that.
They thought people would love health care reform (they didn’t) and not resent the way it was handled (they did.) They called Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., a “teabagger,” and Brown won handily.
They called the Tea Party racist, and it elected Hispanics, blacks, women, and children of Indian immigrants. They said it was violent, and the death threats were coming — from union supporters.
They said Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s cuts in Wisconsin made him a pariah, and his surrogate won a judicial election. They said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan was a “suicide note” on behalf of his party, and a hit list directed at women and children.
At the end of last week, the Gallup poll had Obama’s approve-disapprove ratings at a 41-50 deficit, while his approval among independents (who elected him in the first place) stood at a staunch 35 percent.
FDR inherited a government that was puny and weak and enhanced it; Obama took one that was already obese and tried to expand it, and these two are not the same thing. FDR planned Social Security to kick in at age 65 (the average age of death, and the age he would die at); he never foresaw a world in which people lived into their 80s and 90s with knee replacements and open-heart surgery.
In 2008-2009, magazines showed Obama with FDR’s hat and cigarette holder; in 2011, the National Review gave them to Ryan, as the New Deal’s reviser. History gave Obama his chance to make history by creating a sustainable safety net for the 21st century, and he is blowing it. If he doesn’t do it, someone else will.
From-Why Obama is so far behind the times