Truthfully, I like to agree with Dorothy Rabinowitz. We are all so thoroughly in her debt for exposing the witch hunts that persecuted innocent nursery school teachers and administrators that I hesitate to say anything about her columns that is not redolent with praise.
Her book on the witch hunts is: No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times (Wall Street Journal Book)
Truthfully, it is usually very easy to agree with Rabinowitz. Her writing if brilliant and informative. She is surely one of the finest columnists around.
I certainly hope that she is right to say that America seems by now to have learned its lesson about voting for political ciphers. It is a bad idea to vote for someone who has no track record and no experience, just a bunch of airy platitudes mixed with an apparent charm. Link here.
In her words: “Whatever the outcome of today's election, this much is clear: It will be a long time before Americans ever again decide that the leadership of the nation should go to a legislator of negligible experience—with a voting record, as state and U.S. senator, consisting largely of ‘present,’ and an election platform based on glowing promises of transcendence.”
But then Rabinowitz suggests that Obama has failed because he lacks the communication skills of Franklin Roosevelt.
I was surprised to read this because it is one of the explanations that Obama’s supporters have been floating for many months now. As best as I can tell, very few people still believe it.
We all know by now Obama does not connect with the voters; he does not seem to feel sufficiently confident to speak to them without a teleprompter. Any time he starts speaking spontaneously, he trips over his silver tongue.
As for a communication strategy, Obama seems to have none. His staff seems not to know what such a strategy would entail.
In the last days of the current political campaign, the more Obama goes around giving speeches, the more he makes unforced errors. The more of these he makes the more he drives voters into the arms of his political opponents, aka, enemies.
But most observers now believe that Obama has failed because his policies have failed, not because he could not explain them very well. It is difficult to develop a rationale for failed policies, especially when everyone knows that you are merely blowing smoke.
Even if you say, as Rabinowitz does, that Obama should have done a better job of explaining his health care bill, the fact remains that it was a bad idea to begin with, a distraction from what concerned the American people, and thoroughly unintelligible to boot. Even Hermes himself could not have presented it cogently and persuasively.
Beyond that, most people have by now concluded that Barack Obama is not up to the job. The more the people see of Obama, and they see vastly more of him than they would have of FDR, the more they see that he is in way over his head.
And yet, didn't people vote for Obama because they thought he was another FDR? Didn't they believe that in a time of economic crisis the nation had to find an FDR, and that Obama reminded them more of FDR than did John McCain.
Rabinowitz expresses “amazement” that anyone would have made the comparison, but the comparison was made, often enough, to the point of gracing the cover of Time Magazine.
But even that would not have been so bad if it were not for the most basic, defining illusion. That illusion has nothing to do with Obama; it concerns FDR.
The greatest illusion, the one that we are still paying for, is the narrative in which FDR’s New Deal saved capitalism and got America out of the Great Depression.
The American people bought this narrative. They accepted as truth a narrative that had been assiduously cultivated by academic historians, intellectuals, media critics, and even politicians. They had taken it as an article of faith that the answer to a Great Recession was to call upon another FDR. You rarely even hear a conservative politician denying the fundamental greatness of FDR.
Even Dorothy Rabinowitz gushes over the inspirational powers of FDR's rhetoric. Anyone who still holds such beliefs should read Amity Shlaes’ book: The Forgotten Man.
Perhaps it was serendipity, but right after I finished reading Rabinowitz this morning, I turned to a column by Thomas Sowell. Link here.
Sowell began his column by asking us who said the following: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work…[A]fter … years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. . . . And an enormous debt to boot!”
Doesn’t it sound like something that an Obama economic adviser might have said to President Obama?
And yet, as Sowell informs us, the words were spoken by Henry Morganthau, Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Treasury, after eight years of New Deal fiscal engineering.
Sowell is reviewing Burton Folsom‘s new book: New Deal or Raw Deal?
Were you among those who believed that the New Deal had saved America from the Great Depression? If so, you have bought an illusion. We are still paying for this illusion.
If America had not been duped into believing that the New Deal gotten us out of the Great Depression, then it might not have sought another FDR or believed that it had found one in Barack Obama.
If America had not been duped into believing that the New Deal had gotten us out of the Great Depression, it might not have given unprecedented powers to liberal Democrats, and it might not have shrugged its shoulders when said Democrats ballooned the national debt.
Of course, today is a different day, and perhaps the American people will finally see that the myth of FDR is one of our greatest twentieth century illusions, one that is shared by liberals and conservatives alike. Link here.