Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Great Expectiations

Rob Rogers

Ronald Reagan, the last president who left office at the height of his popularity, was considered a successful president because he dealt with two big issues: pulling the country out of a deep recession and fostering the collapse of the Soviet Union.

If Mr. Obama can just fix the economy, put the country back on the road to prosperity and slay trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, he will go down in history as one of our noteworthy presidents. But he believes — and right now apparently the country does, too — that he can do much more.

Donald Lambro in ANALYSIS: Obama must deliver after lofty address

H/T Eggs-n-Grits

5 comments:

Yonah said...

A few comments...

Ronald Reagan was not the last president who left office at the height of his popularity.

The WSJ provides us with this:

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-presapp0605-31.html

Also, it's a common talking point in some circles to note that Bill Clinton presided over the economic boom of the 1990s, but did not cause it. Setting aside the benefits of Nafta for a moment, Mr Reagan did almost nothing to foster the collapse of the Soviet Union; he merely had ambled into history when the USSR finally suffocated itself. (I know it was Mr Lambro and not you who made this point, but it still needs correcting.)

As for Mr Obama, I don't think lifting us from the hole Gov Bush dug will make him go down in history as an FDR or JFK. Finding the "reset button," if you will doesn't have the same grandeur as progressive accomplishment. It's the "more" that he needs to do. And to get any of the "other" done, small stuff like ending the war and bringing us out of recession, he may have to.

When one considers the mess we are in now, I long for a glimpse into the last 8 years in a "what if Gore had been president" scenario.

Andy Rupert said...

Yonah,

The governing thought in the above quotation is the second paragraph. People think Obama can accomplish much. As I see it, this optimism is probably due to (1)our government's handling of the war, (2) Obama's "Yes we can" speeches, and (3) the economic upheaval caused by Wall Street.

With all that has been going on, America (and the world) has been looking for a super hero who can, can, can. Will Obama be able to deliver? Eggs-n-grits said it well, "We shall see."

Yonah said...

But the “governing thought,” indeed the entire Washington Times article, rests upon faulty presuppositions. (No surprise considering that publication is hardly a paper of record.)

As the WSJ illustrates, nearly all presidents assume the office with a high approval rating. This translates into a degree of optimism for the following four years and a degree of support for the administration’s policy proposals.

Mr Lambro can’t be so naive as to confuse political rhetoric with actual policy proposals. Mr Obama’s speech was meant to inspire, to set a tone, to promise leadership in the face of our challenges.

As for Eggs ‘n’ Grits’ pithy if not entirely contentless analysis, there’s no reason not to hope for a successful Obama presidency. Many disagree with his ideas on many different counts, myself included, but while I live in America, I hope for it to be safe and prosperous and free. Right now, it’s none of those.

And one hopes that most would share that sentiment... and then I read things like this:

http://purelypolitics.blogspot.com/2009/01/pondering-banner.html

EggsnGrits said...

The content is in the links, I see no reason to replicate on my site, and "analysis" is your word, not mine. It's a quick observation based upon some reading that I did.

You did read the links, didn't you, Yonah?

If not, this is the crux of the discussion.

As for Reagan "doing nothing" for the fall of the USSR, let me remind you that he established and lead an unprecidented surge in military technology and demonstration of military strength which the Soviet Union could never match. Having negated one of their primary strengths, he certainly added a great push at the end of an already cumbling Soviet empire. That is, he didn't cause the fall, but he certainly hastened it.

Clinton I give similar credit for the economic prosperity -- he didn't cause it, but he was certainly smart enough to keep it going in the right direction. That's absolutely perfect execution in my book. Of course, Newt Gingrinch was holded a big hammer during that ime that kept a huge check on any runaway spending.

In fact, history may record William J. Clinton era as more conservative than W's, which I find very odd. W has spent and spent and spent with his Democrat-controlled Congress in lock step.

Enough. Yonah, you think that you are clever, and you may be. However, setting up a straw-man argument to easily knock over isn't proving your point.

Bottom line: Obama's writing huge checks with his mouth. Cashing them will be very, very hard.

Andy Rupert said...

Here's an interesting accounting for Obama's campaign promises:

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises