Breaks in the Static
Michael Ubaldi, August 23, 2011.
Thank Barack Obama for making 2012's presidential election a genuine referendum on federal polity and the course of our nation.
In select quarters, the White House is exculpated for everything save pushing Keynesian machinations hard enough. An old college acquaintance of mine recently celebrated a claim by The New Republic that public indebtedness is George W. Bush's doing. This was hilariously depicted by dueling, striated bars in which eight years of Forty-Three were compared to three years, plus an imaginary second term, of Forty-Four. "The Bush Tax Cuts" constituted a third of Bush's rectilinear offenses, but appeared nowhere in Obama's, presumably because a) times are tough for even the sinfully wealthy, and b) Obama will be coming for that money retroactively. I do not discuss politics with my liberal friends.
For the rest of the country, the president has disappointed by emerging to assume power and repel adversity, but instead inviting a whole hell of a lot more of it. Gallup shows 53 percent down to 40 percent up; Rasmussen shows 55-to-45, plus a side-by-side comparison of the most extreme ends of the spectrum, which currently tilts pollice verso, 2-to-1.
I maintain that talk of intractably weak markets and employment is quackery on the order of physicians applying leeches to flu patients. The moment businesses aren't terrified of Washington, they will profitably risk once again. But — for the next thirteen months, at least — quackery remains popular practice. The kind of economic setting that buoyed Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton and even Ronald Reagan isn't likely. Republicans have the rare opportunity among politicians to campaign when hyperbole reflects daily life.
What we are doing a lot is supplicating, which the elected class can overhear. Michele Bachmann's land of milk and honey pumps gas at two dollars a gallon. Before the congresswoman made her eudaemonic promise she struck me as a born-for-television conservative and counterpart, in executive inexperience, to Barack Obama. Staff is only distantly akin to country in terms of management. But she said what she did, and I still think: Why not?
Every ten years we realize liberals warned us oil exploration wouldn't pay off for ten years; about four decades have passed since the petroleum industry didn't face daily harassment. Scorn for Bachmann is unfair, too, in consideration. Fantastic means shouldn't shock: aren't motorists coaxed to purchase expensive electrical cars they don't want because, heroically, men walked on the moon? And besides, the current presidency's foundation isn't even corporal. Do you know the odds on "winning the future"?
Bachmann distinguished herself from four-fifths of the GOP field by bursting from the stasis of political life: if the district or state is secure, there is no layoff, no market-spoiled nest egg, and you may proceed as normal. Messrs. Pawlenty, Santorum, Romney, Gingrich and Huntsman tied Bachmann's Iowa straw poll only when combined because these men, however laudable their positions or platforms, could be transplanted to any other contest along four-year intervals, as if the advantage of "generic Republican" were taken literally. Would any of them perform better than Obama? Almost certainly, but none of them has quite contrasted their would-be term with the president's along the lines most important to voters. American business will not recover because you abhor Iranian nukes and oppose abortion. Ron Paul understands this, but is not electable; Rick Perry understands, too, and is.
"It's time to get America working again," Perry says. Think him facile or trite, one-fifth of the labor force is either standing on the curb or, for half-pay, sweeping it — exactly where they were in 2009. Whereas his predecessor was merely terse, the man has the gift of cogency. Three guiding principles, shown off at a recent speech in Austin: "We didn't spend all the money," "We kept taxes as low as we could on job-creators," and "We had a regulatory climate that did not stifle jobs — and was predictable."
That addendum is poignant: the private sector fears the Obama administration as a front for predatory caprice. Will the president anathematize you as he did the oil or jet industries? Or will he quietly dispatch a czar? Campaign contributions now look like Danegeld: Barack got your money but he might be coming for you, anyway. Bill Clinton might've gotten away with looks askance, but those were headier days. The current president was named to solve a crisis yet unabated, and which by all appearances will worsen — even the well protected have reason to worry.
Perhaps they'll telephone some Lone Star colleagues. "The truth of the matter is this," said Perry. "Texas has been the engine of job growth." This governor will lay his portfolio alongside Obama's, and we already know that Americans are still in search of someone capable of a turnaround.
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