I have watched as the Obama Administration made some potentially canny and promising early appointments (and retentions) in positions relevant to national security and international diplomacy. I have given due (if necessarily guarded) credit where appropriate.
I have watched as it took steps to set in motion a vast experiment in government management of the economy for the stated purpose of kicking in the afterburners on a system which was losing altitude at an alarming rate. I am far less than sanguine about the prospects of that experiment yielding the fruit which the Administration has put on the menu. I exist in a state of dread about the shape which the American economy will assume if a significant proportion of the Democratic proposals end up being adopted. A top-heavy, regulation-besotted, debt-rich, redistributionist, entitlement-clotted, engineered economy is just the sort of climate which any sane businessperson will seek to flee at relativistic speeds.
But, whatever. The Democrats have been yammering for longer than I care to contemplate about just this sort of economy's putative virtues for elevating the lot of humankind. Now they have a chance to run the program and let the data shake out as it will. It's a strange universe; they may not be wrong.
What has really chafed my nethers this evening is the sheer hypocrisy embodied by this story off the AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) - The economy is fundamentally sound despite the temporary "mess" it's in, the White House said Sunday in the kind of upbeat assessment that Barack Obama had mocked as a presidential candidate.
I don't even have to close my eyes to summon up the full scope of the derisive drubbing which the Obama campaign visited upon John McCain when he made just this sort of statement during his run for office. At the time Sen. McCain was painted as a tin-eared economic lightweight and panderer, rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and all that. Now the Obama administration, awash in the blowback from the ceaselessly bleak catastrophism with which it strove to sell the immense spending bender it so quaintly insisted on calling a "stimulus," sees fit to co-opt the same language in order to sweeten the potion it has spooked us into drinking. Seldom has the word, "disingenuous" seemed to apply so very aptly. And, again, I am summoning all the politesse I can muster here.
In point of fact, I thought that McCain retreated far too abjectly on this point. Flawed and floundering as it was, I do believe that the "fundamentals" of the economy were far less intrinsically damaged than it was deemed politically expedient to acknowledge. People were (and are!) hurting, and perhaps not so favorably disposed to hear that the overall economy could be jump-started without wading in and tinkering with the code. Macroeconomics serves as a sour and unsatisfying brew when one's utility bills are piling up and foreclosure statistics are far more than a news item. I get it.
Still, the pressure to appear empathic and to be seen as Doing Something can get in the way of the sort of intelligent management of the interface between government and the economy which holds real promise for building on that economy's strengths and judiciously addressing its shortcomings. For someone who droned on so relentlessly about the evils of a "Politics Of Fear," Obama was only too willing to employ those very tactics when the time came to try and motivate the American people to sign onto his blueprint for a "new and improved" American economy...up until the point when he 'discovered' that collective psychological phenomena are variables in the functioning of that economy. Now he is scrambling to massage the message and offer up a little Hope. One might have thought it fairly obvious that sermonizing about the Imminent Collapse of Everydamnthing might be apt to engender a bit of pessimism in the market. Seems that little item was omitted from The One's flow chart. Rookie mistake.
A penchant for revisionist history had ever been the hallmark of the Obama campaign's M.O. It is not unreasonable to predict that this tendency will persist...so I'm not holding my breath for any belated acknowledgment that Candidate McCain was right after all. For the moment, I suppose I'll have to content myself with the fact that even the AP could not whitewash over the irony of today's statements.
Beware of Jedi Mind Tricks, fellow citizens.
ETA: Awsome pic courtesy of this thread, chock full of hilarity.