Mona Charen

With the public suitably frightened and biddable, Obama now strides to the podium and begins prescribing particular government policies. (Have you noticed his troubling habit of denying what he is doing? For example, in his speech to Congress he said he asked for the stimulus bill "not because I believe in bigger government -- I don't." And in recommending a bailout of mortgage holders, he denied that any relief would go to "speculators" or those who "bought more house than they could afford" but that is exactly what the package will do.)

Suddenly, because the economy nose-dived in the middle of an election, we are living in Obamaland, where Barack's policy ideas are to be rushed into legislation. He thinks it would be a good idea for medical records to be digitized. Well, some in the field have questioned whether the investment in digital records would really be worth the cost. Perhaps the money could have been better spent elsewhere while the digitalization would have been spread out over more years. But so much for that debate. It's in the stimulus bill now.

Similarly, Obama has decided that we should spend billions more on preschool education because as he put it, "we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life." Well, that's actually doubtful. I refer the president to "The Myth of the First Three Years" by John Bruer. He argues persuasively that we have been misled about the importance of early learning; that the brain is actually quite plastic and lifelong learning is the norm. Other brain researchers agree. There is also controversy about even such gold-plated programs as Head Start.

But this is a strange way for a democracy to make policy. We shouldn't be in the position of trying to persuade the king or dictator. Policy shifts should be slow and gradual. One state should experiment with universal preschool and then compare results after say, five years, with other states that don't have it. That is how we successfully reformed welfare in the 1980s and 1990s. States like Wisconsin led the way with reforms that proved efficacious and then the nation followed. (That success, by the way, has been undermined by the stimulus law.)

Obama, like other liberals, wants to dispense with experimentation and debate (which he dismisses as the "the same old gridlock and partisan posturing") and sluice an enormous liberal/socialist wish list, to include single-payer health care, universal college education, and so-called green energy into law.

It will be difficult to resist this charismatic figure, but let's be clear about this: Though he denies what he is about, he is pulling the country dangerously toward a statist dead end.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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