Michael Barone

But those policies seem unlikely today. Obama has only limited plans to take over the private sector economy (he hopes cap-and-trade will produce otherwise uneconomic "green" jobs), and he has abandoned, at least for the moment, the unions' card check bill that would enroll millions of workers in unions by effectively abolishing the secret ballot in unionization elections and then having federal arbitrators impose wage levels and work rules. And he certainly has no plans to expand the military to its proportion of the population in World War II -- 35 million men and women.

Still, Obama may take us some distance toward the Europe whose "dynamic union" he hailed in Strasbourg, with some marginal gains in economic equality and, if Europe's experience is a guide, considerably less economic creativity and growth.

Abroad, Obama has eschewed American "arrogance" and embraced the European model of diplomatic engagement and avoidance of confrontation. He argues that if we show "persistence" in apologizing for America's past and willingness to negotiate with Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and shake hands with Hugo Chavez, they will come to recognize our good will and make concessions they would otherwise refuse.

Perhaps. But one recalls that this was the European response to the genocide in its own back yard by Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic and that he was brought to justice only by the force of American arms. That lesson has not been lost on Obama who, for all his rhetoric, has ordered troop increases in Afghanistan despite the refusal of Europeans to do more.

Obama and his party were brought to power by George W. Bush's perceived incompetence on Katrina and Iraq, not because of some pent-up and suddenly overwhelming demand for the Europeanization of America.

Polls show voters ambivalent about Obama's expansion of government, skeptical of global warming theories, and appreciative despite the financial crisis and recession of the efficacy of market capitalism to produce economic growth. They are also confident, as Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy were, that America is a special and unique country. Obama audaciously believes he can lead the country in a direction it's not sure it wants to go.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM