WASHINGTON -- Somewhere in his very interesting "Journals: 1952-2000," the late historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. erupts with the observation that history is unfailingly interesting. Over the years, I delighted in disagreeing with Schlesinger, but on this, I am in hearty accord. History is always interesting. Even when not much is happening, history is interesting.
Today there is a lot happening, and observing history now is more interesting than usual, but even a few years back, when sophisticates were droning on about "globalization," history caught my attention. The year was 2003, and I was sitting in on symposiums at the Yale Law School. A recurring topic was "globalization," and most of the soi-disant liberal intellects were for it. As globalization seemed to be a capitalist tool, I was amazed by their sanguine acceptance of it. It was so-o-o materialistic. Did the assembled sophisticates not realize that there might be a downside to globalization? I heard few caveats.
Well, the present globalized economic crisis suggests that there indeed has been a downside, namely the worldwide freeze on credit. It has led to recession in many of the world's leading economies. What will be done about it? Will the incoming American president know how to take action?
President-elect Barack Obama is a man of many firsts, some of them auspicious. One of his firsts, however, is not so auspicious. Obama is America's first motivational speaker to be elected to the presidency. He has absolutely no executive experience, though during the recent presidential campaign, he insisted that running a political campaign is an executive position. Well, if that is the case, he has, at the age of 47, only really run one competitive political campaign: his race for the presidency. His 2004 U.S. Senate race was against a stand-in Republican candidate: Alan Keyes, a sometime radio host with no roots in Illinois politics and no prospects for victory. State Sen. Obama's seasoned Republican opponent, Jack Ryan, had been forced to withdraw because of a sordid scandal. In earlier state Senate campaigns, starting in 1995, Obama had no competition at all, and his effort to unseat Rep. Bobby Rush, in 2000, was an abject failure.