Jonah Goldberg

What movie was he watching? At best this is a rock 'em-sock 'em robot battle between delusion and dishonesty. Rhetorically, Bush never advocated anything like any of this. Indeed, Bush the compassionate conservative described his philosophy thus: "When somebody hurts, government has got to move." More concretely, under Bush we had massive spending increases on education, alternative energy, NIH and health care. We saw the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, and the trade deals Bush pushed are now part of the Obama agenda.

But Obama needs to spout such hogwash in order to sell some very old "new" ideas.

It hasn't worked. Americans understand this isn't 1932 or 1964. Some even understand that many of our problems -- Housing? Entitlements? -- stem from the liberal accomplishments of the 1930s and 1960s. Professional liberals, however, remain in denial, insisting they suffer from a "communications" problem or some such nonsense.

At best, the Democrats bet badly on the business cycle. They expected the economy to recover quickly, as it usually does, and when it did they would credit their policies. That didn't happen. The "new foundation" has either hurt the economy or did little to help it. Worse, from the liberal perspective, it further soured voters not just on Democrats but on faith in government generally, which Obama was supposed to restore.

And that's the funny part. For reasons fair and unfair, the Great Depression discredited laissez-faire economics for a generation or more. Hoover, who was hardly the "market fundamentalist" FDR made him out to be, suffered largely from the (bad) luck of the draw, giving Democrats a chance to argue for a new deal of the cards. For reasons fair and unfair, Obama, who inherited a bad recession and made it worse, every day looks more like a modern-day Hoover, whining about his problems, rather than an FDR cheerily getting things done. Inadequate to the task, Obama is discrediting the statism he was elected to restore.

The punch line? When the economy finally rebounds, it might be just in time for Obama's replacement to get all the credit.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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