Friday, September 18, 2009

"Obama's Just Like Bush", Round... I've Lost Track.

David Brooks serves up an oblivious "Obama's just like Bush" argument,
The idea is that free labor is the essence of Americanism. Hard-working ordinary people, who create wealth in material ways, are the moral backbone of the country. In this free, capitalist nation, people should be held responsible for their own output. Money should not be redistributed to those who do not work, and it should not be sucked off by condescending, manipulative elites.
I guess here the distinction is supposed to be that Bush's redistribution was to the idle rich (is there any group in this country better described as "condescending, manipulative elites" than the top 1% of the country that most benefited from Bush's economic policies and tax cuts?), whereas Obama's proposed health insurance scheme would benefit the poor. Except that people who don't work can already avail themselves of Medicaid, Bush massively expanded Medicare benefits to people without regard to whether or not they work, and many of the "hard-working ordinary people, who create wealth in material ways" would benefit from a good healthcare reform bill. (The Republicans know this - that's why they're fighting so hard to defeat meaningful reform.) So by this measure, Obama should be more popular with the "hard-working ordinary people, who create wealth in material ways" than was Bush, right? Yeah, right.
Barack Obama leads a government of the highly educated. His movement includes urban politicians, academics, Hollywood donors and information-age professionals. In his first few months, he has fused federal power with Wall Street, the auto industry, the health care industries and the energy sector.
The "MBA President", delegating to a team of experts, wasn't leading a government of the highly educated? His "movement" didn't include urban politicians, academics and celebrities? He didn't fuse federal power with Wall Street, the auto industry, the health care industries and the energy sector? Has Brooks even heard of Dick Cheney? Forgive me for asking, David, but what alternate universe do you live in?
Given all of this, it was guaranteed that he would spark a populist backlash, regardless of his skin color. And it was guaranteed that this backlash would be ill mannered, conspiratorial and over the top - since these movements always are, whether they were led by Huey Long, Father Coughlin or anybody else.
Lets accept that for most of Obama's critics race isn't a factor. (Let's admit that for a small number it is, most certainly, a factor, but that the larger movement would be directed at any Democratic President.) Why is it that these same people didn't rise up in protest against Bush?

Brooks loves a certain romanticized "red state" America, with its fictionalized Applebee's restaurants, and all that. He loves "hard-working ordinary people, who create wealth in material ways", even though he's not one of them and probably wouldn't last five minutes in one of their jobs. (Er... I'm not sure that he loves those "hard-working ordinary people, who create wealth in material ways" who work union jobs, make useless things like automobiles, and tend to vote for Democrats, although I'm sure that, given the opportunity, he could find some way to explain how they're "different".) But his simplistic sociology doesn't hold water. He's either wrong about the people he claims to be describing, wrong about their motivation, or both. (And it's probably both.)


  1. Obama's health care plan needs to be stopped now. All of the young healthy people are going to wake up and find out that they are going to be forced to buy health insurance are going to be sorry they ever voted for him.

    Stop Obama's crooked Health Care Plan NOW ! !

  2. Because... there's nothing worse than having health insurance?

    You're talking about "Obama's health care plan" - exactly where can I find that plan and read it? (I can't, you say? There's not actually an "Obama health care plan", you say? Then why the hysteria?)

  3. . . . just to play Devil's Advocate . . . what are the odds that anybody will have read the entire bill before it passes? (We know Conyers won't, but . . .)


  4. I don't know how many people will have read this bill cover-to-cover, but I'm not sure that doing so would create a greater understanding of the legislation itself.

    The idea of "reading the entire bill" is a bit misleading, as much of any given bill is going to be mark-up - changes to small portions of probably hundreds of other statutes so as to make them consistent with the new bill. Still, you have to hope somebody's doing a good job reading (and proofreading) that, as otherwise you end up having inconsistencies and future clean-up work.

    I want Members of Congress to have a good understanding of the bill, but I'm okay with their eyes glazing over when they hit, for example, some mark-up that makes an existing statute gender neutral while adding a cross-reference to a newly enacted statute.


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