Elkhorn Creek Lodge

The Reid and Pelosi Wildcard

Posted in economics, obama, politics by Eugene Podrazik on November 24, 2008

Mr. Katz of Urgent Agenda notes that Obama’s picks for his incoming administration are causes of worry, but also relief. There is, at least, a certain seriousness to these picks that reflects that Obama is playing in an entirely new league. Perhaps the biggest criticism beyond some of the personal baggage, Holder comes to mind, that we have an administration that is being stacked with that slice America that got double 800’s on their SAT’s.  Or, the inverse of the late Buckley, with rule by the Harvard faculty rather than the first hundred names out of the Cambridge phone directory.

One can only hope, for all of the stellar academic credentials, that these advisers will have the humility to realize that they can never craft policy that will anticipate the needs of 300 million Americans. Or, that this isn’t the purpose or business of government. One hopes that they will remember enough of Econ 101 to realize that economic growth is the only solution to this economic melt down. Meaning that the Joe-the-plumbers will need to be protected and supported from crushing taxes and regulation. That creating, not spreading, wealth is what lies between a brief recession and a depression.

As McCain’s father said, history is made by poker players and not analysts. We’ll see what these people will do in time of crisis where you will have to take a lifetime of experience and react; and hope that reaction is a reflection of carefully thought out positions that you will not, in that moment of crisis, have the time to think through in a linear fashion. A crisis moment that will force you to act from the gut because you will not have to time to analyze. 

More interestingly, Obama almost seems like the young prince Hal who now casts off Falstaff as he assumes the mantle of power as Henry V. Did Obama, in his 20 or so years in the Chicago machine, “know you all” and for a while “upheld the unyoked humor of their idleness.” Of Ayers, Wright, Rezko. Is he, therefore, a radical or truly a centrist? Are his centrist tendencies, of late, of choice or circumstance? A thin resume and now we know even less. 

All very cynical, of course. But, there’s that adage that fulfilling your friendship needs in Washington can only be done reliably  with a dog.

I also suspect that Obama realizes that his legacy is not getting elected but getting elected and performing as president to his getting re-elected. To be the first black president means he can’t go out as a failure like Hoover or Carter; to go out as the first black president who screwed up. No longer does he have the comfort of spouting out pronouncement that have little impact in a safe district controlled by the Chicago political machine. I rather suspect, particularly in handoff briefings on security, that he came into contact with intelligence that would instantly age anyone ten years in ten minutes. 

And, that Falstaff comes with multiple faces; principally Reid and Pelosi. But, the biggest hurdle to succeeding as president will be his putative allies in Congress. Already, they are lining up an agenda that will drive the country over the cliff. He needs, above all, an economy that can pull it self out of a recession. 

The meltdown and recession that got Obama elected, is a mixed blessing because it is like a wounded animal that can turn on you in a minute. This is already Obama’s economy and his recession. This is no longer the crisis that can be used to push other agendas. This is a stand-alone crisis that will ultimately drag Obama down; and must be addressed regardless of the rest of his campaign wish list.

But, the solons of Congress, who control its committees have a very different idea. They, from safe seats and with very parochial agendas will use this crisis to pursue other agendas. The biggest warning sign is the ouster of Dingell by Waxman. Waxman, too marinated in the money and celebrity of Beverly Hills, is about to wave a magic wand and decree that we will all live a life of perfection by junking the burning of fossil fuels and embrace our inner windmill. In the insular world of Beverly Hills, far removed the concerns of Americans that actually live paycheck to paycheck, is a world that doesn’t think about how food, energy, transportation all come to their doorsteps. These are things brought in by the “help.” In a world of Rodeo-Drive-chinchilla-bedspreads it matters not that the “help” actually shops at Wal-mart to squeeze value out of every last penny of their paychecks.

Yet, here is Waxman, ready to push cap and trade. The costs and economic distortions of this program alone is sufficient to tank this economy into a depression.

And, we have Frank who can’t wait to get started on cutting our defense budget by 25 percent. And, we all breathe a sigh of relief that, on the Senate side, Bingaman has just announced that a new gas tax will be deferred. 

I’m beginning to think, through his choices of advisors, that Obama realizes that he’s on his own. Ayers might be good company for an all-night dorm room bull session. But, he’s got his legacy on the line and that’s already being seriously threatened.

As a conservative, I’m sure that a lot of what Obama does is going to give me a lot of heartburn. But, he’s our President. And, for the sake of our country, he needs to succeed by making the right choices. It is good, therefore, that he’s bringing in serious people. Leftist in orientation, but, hopefully, with a degree of education to bring objectivity that such an education should engender.

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