posted on February 24, 2009 11:59
As a nation turns its lonely eyes to President Obama tonight, I’m reminded of the plaintive question Casey Stengel asked about the sad-sack Mets: “Can’t anybody here play this game?”
Does anybody in Washington know what they’re doing? Do they know how to stop the Great Recession – and prevent a “Lost Decade”?
Surely, the answer is no. Obama and his team are making it up as they go along. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. FDR made it up on the fly during the Depression. Lincoln was winging it all through the Civil War. Even the Founding Fathers didn’t really know what they were doing while they were doing it.
That’s the beauty of our democracy. The twin principles of political liberty (including free speech and free-wheeling debate) and economic liberty usually pull us through.
But today, every now and then, you get this sick feeling: Maybe that won’t pull us through this time.
At least Obama is trying something. The Republicans in Congress look increasingly absurd. Last week one of them – I forget which – had this memorable critique of Obama’s stimulus bill: “It won’t work.”
It won’t? How does he know? And if he knows, why didn’t he prevent all this back when they had the chance?
Nobody knew the financial meltdown was coming in September. So why should we believe they know what’s coming next – or what will be the impact of anything they do or don’t do?
Clearly, the Republicans think 2009 is 1993 all over. They said then that Bill Clinton’s tax increases would wreck the economy.
They also fought his health-care reform. Unlike the tax fight, they won on health care. And Clinton promptly bombed in the 1994 elections, leading to the Age of Gingrich.
That appears to be the model for some congressional Republicans today. But history rarely repeats itself so neatly.
Personally, I hope the Republicans follow the example of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. That will take them right over the cliff.
If they’re smart, they’ll follow the human public-opinion poll, Governor Charlie Crist of Florida.
But if they were smart, they wouldn’t be in this mess.
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