The Audacity of Hope turns into the Politics of Fear
#1


The Fierce Urgency of Pork

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, February 6, 2009; A17


"A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe."

-- President Obama, Feb. 4.



Catastrophe, mind you. So much for the president who in his inaugural address two weeks earlier declared "we have chosen hope over fear." Until, that is, you need fear to pass a bill.

And so much for the promise to banish the money changers and influence peddlers from the temple. An ostentatious executive order banning lobbyists was immediately followed by the nomination of at least a dozen current or former lobbyists to high position. Followed by a Treasury secretary who allegedly couldn't understand the payroll tax provisions in his 1040. Followed by Tom Daschle, who had to fall on his sword according to the new Washington rule that no Cabinet can have more than one tax delinquent.

The Daschle affair was more serious because his offense involved more than taxes. As Michael Kinsley once observed, in Washington the real scandal isn't what's illegal, but what's legal. Not paying taxes is one thing. But what made this case intolerable was the perfectly legal dealings that amassed Daschle $5.2 million in just two years.

He'd been getting $1 million per year from a law firm. But he's not a lawyer, nor a registered lobbyist. You don't get paid this kind of money to instruct partners on the Senate markup process. You get it for picking up the phone and peddling influence.

At least Tim Geithner, the tax-challenged Treasury secretary, had been working for years as a humble international civil servant earning non-stratospheric wages. Daschle, who had made another cool million a year (plus chauffeur and Caddy) for unspecified services to a pal's private equity firm, represented everything Obama said he'd come to Washington to upend.

And yet more damaging to Obama's image than all the hypocrisies in the appointment process is his signature bill: the stimulus package. He inexplicably delegated the writing to Nancy Pelosi and the barons of the House. The product, which inevitably carries Obama's name, was not just bad, not just flawed, but a legislative abomination.

It's not just pages and pages of special-interest tax breaks, giveaways and protections, one of which would set off a ruinous Smoot-Hawley trade war. It's not just the waste, such as the $88.6 million for new construction for Milwaukee Public Schools, which, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, have shrinking enrollment, 15 vacant schools and, quite logically, no plans for new construction.

It's the essential fraud of rushing through a bill in which the normal rules (committee hearings, finding revenue to pay for the programs) are suspended on the grounds that a national emergency requires an immediate job-creating stimulus -- and then throwing into it hundreds of billions that have nothing to do with stimulus, that Congress's own budget office says won't be spent until 2011 and beyond, and that are little more than the back-scratching, special-interest, lobby-driven parochialism that Obama came to Washington to abolish. He said.

Not just to abolish but to create something new -- a new politics where the moneyed pork-barreling and corrupt logrolling of the past would give way to a bottom-up, grass-roots participatory democracy. That is what made Obama so dazzling and new. Turns out the "fierce urgency of now" includes $150 million for livestock (and honeybee and farm-raised fish) insurance.

The Age of Obama begins with perhaps the greatest frenzy of old-politics influence peddling ever seen in Washington. By the time the stimulus bill reached the Senate, reports the Wall Street Journal, pharmaceutical and high-tech companies were lobbying furiously for a new plan to repatriate overseas profits that would yield major tax savings. California wine growers and Florida citrus producers were fighting to change a single phrase in one provision. Substituting "planted" for "ready to market" would mean a windfall garnered from a new "bonus depreciation" incentive.

After Obama's miraculous 2008 presidential campaign, it was clear that at some point the magical mystery tour would have to end. The nation would rub its eyes and begin to emerge from its reverie. The hallucinatory Obama would give way to the mere mortal. The great ethical transformations promised would be seen as a fairy tale that all presidents tell -- and that this president told better than anyone.

I thought the awakening would take six months. It took two and a half weeks.
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#2
Quote:
I thought the awakening would take six months. It took two and a half weeks.

Some of the deluded people who voted this nut in will never wake up - no matter what Obama does.
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#3
I don't see what changed. We've been hearing about the crisis getting worse for a while. And that title is foolish - "The Fierce Urgency of Pork." Is Hoover still alive and writing op-eds now?

If you dislike Obama, that's fine. If you can't stand him, that's fine. If he disgusts you, that's fine. But play fair and be honest. It's dishonest of you to call out Obama after two weeks, especially if he's done a great job, especially in comparison to the eight Bush years of fear-mongering and Constitutional abuses (i.e., against the very foundations of the nation, for those who don't think they're so important).

It's a joke that you attack Obama over everything he does. I wonder how often you attacked Bush? The only issue I disagree with him on, strongly, is abortion. I hope he'll open the nation to reasonable discussion on that issue, and I hope that he will succeed. It would be of great satisfaction to live through one of the greatest Presidencies and recall all those who attempted to shame it, for what reason, it is unclear. Perhaps there's a tinge of contrarianism in the air?
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#4
Actually, most of us did attack Bush for constitutional abuses. That said, Obama's doing nothing new, it the standard Politician's Logic:
1. Something must be done.
2. This is something.
Therefore, we must do it.
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#5
Stephanos Wrote:
Quote:
I thought the awakening would take six months. It took two and a half weeks.

Some of the deluded people who voted this nut in will never wake up - no matter what Obama does.

how 'bout voting in general?
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#6
JonathanCid Wrote:I don't see what changed. We've been hearing about the crisis getting worse for a while. And that title is foolish - "The Fierce Urgency of Pork." Is Hoover still alive and writing op-eds now?

If you dislike Obama, that's fine. If you can't stand him, that's fine. If he disgusts you, that's fine. But play fair and be honest. It's dishonest of you to call out Obama after two weeks, especially if he's done a great job, especially in comparison to the eight Bush years of fear-mongering and Constitutional abuses (i.e., against the very foundations of the nation, for those who don't think they're so important).

It's a joke that you attack Obama over everything he does. I wonder how often you attacked Bush? The only issue I disagree with him on, strongly, is abortion. I hope he'll open the nation to reasonable discussion on that issue, and I hope that he will succeed. It would be of great satisfaction to live through one of the greatest Presidencies and recall all those who attempted to shame it, for what reason, it is unclear. Perhaps there's a tinge of contrarianism in the air?

Just because I criticize Obama doesn't mean I support everything Bush has done. In fact Bush made many mistakes like you mentioned: Patriot Act and Iraq war for example. I'm definitely not a Republican.

Obama has not done a "great job", which is what you seem to imply. And he's not going to "open the nation to reasonable discussion" on the issue of abortion: he just authorized more tax dollars to be stolen spent on overseas abortions! As bad as Bush was on many issues, Obama will most likely be much worse, especially on abortion.
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#7
warning Wrote:
Stephanos Wrote:
Quote:
I thought the awakening would take six months. It took two and a half weeks.

Some of the deluded people who voted this nut in will never wake up - no matter what Obama does.

how 'bout voting in general?

Yeah, pretty much.

"Now everyone, get out and vote for someone! It doesn't matter who! Yeah! Freedom! America! Yeah!"

Oh, but don't vote for Ron Paul, you'll be labeled a conspiracy theorist.....
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#8
1. The article is dishonest. Perpetuating it is in turn dishonest.

2. Good to see there's some criticism of Bush.

3. Obama permitted spending to fund foreign abortions, you're right. However, the issue is that the man is honestly convinced that there is no human life to be had there. Everyone should stop throwing rocks at him and convince him. The problem with the pro-life movement is that there hasn't been enough emphasis on demonstrating to major leaders (i.e., Obama) that this is indeed a human life. President Obama seems like a reasonable man, who will gladly change his position if he sees it is unreasonable.

4. I'll have to disagree with your politicians' logic Anastasia. Your assumption is as follows -
A. Politicians follow Politicians' Logic.
B. Obama is a politician.
C. Obama must follow politicians' logic.

But Obama has based himself on economists' advice and logic and the best of economic wisdom. What else should he base himself on? It's opposite is the Bush/Republican ideology of the heavenly, utopian market that needs no regulation or government interference. It may not be what fits with the dominant ideology of Washington for eight years, but it's what economists are screaming about and what needs to get done - and he's pushing to make sure it gets done.

To add to that politicians' logic:
A. Typical politicians follow Politicians' Logic.
B. Obama follows true reason and logic.
C. Obama is not a typical politician.
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#9
And on what evidence does Obama always follow true reason and logic?
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#10
JonathanCid Wrote:The problem with the pro-life movement is that there hasn't been enough emphasis on demonstrating to major leaders (i.e., Obama) that this is indeed a human life. President Obama seems like a reasonable man, who will gladly change his position if he sees it is unreasonable.


This is a man who voted AGAINST legislation (Born Alive Act) to require medical care for babies born alive during abortion in Illinois.  If he does not think a baby should be cared for when out of the womb and breathing on its own he is certainly not going to care about a baby in the womb.
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