Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Best and the Brightest

First, it was David Brooks. Then, it was Sen. Robert Byrd, of all people. Their worry: that the Obama administration is concentrating power in a few bright aides and czars who are operating out of the White House. Link here.

Clearly, the administration was elected to take charge of the financial crisis. It is trying to do so. But concentrating power in the hands of a few-- which the ancients called oligarchy-- rarely benefits anyone but the few.

What can we look forward to?

The best and the brightest:

1. Know better than you and I.

2. Want to impose their superior vision on an inferior world.

3. Refuse to allow their work to be judged by reality.

4. Blame others when their policies appear to fail.

5. Work tirelessly to maintain themselves in power.

To do this, the best and the brightest:

1. Demean the intelligence of anyone who does not accept their claim to superior wisdom.

2. Refuse to negotiate with people who disagree with them or to compromise with reality. They make grandiose promises that cannot possibly be kept. Examples: the administration is going to give more people more and better health care for less than it costs now. And: the administration is going to solve the energy crisis by building more windmills. (Apparently, the best and the brightest never read "Don Quixote.")

3. Proclaim that their approach is working even if it is not. For this it helps to have a well-oiled propaganda machine.

4. Select a group of possible scapegoats that can be blamed when anything appears to go wrong. Among them will be George Bush, George Bush, and George Bush. Also, Herbert Hoover, Margaret Hoover, Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, Republicans, the vast right wing conspiracy, and the Mossad.

5. Stay in power, no matter what. If that requires fiddling with the census, so be it. If their vision has not lead to Heaven on earth, we will be told that our faith in the great leader is being tested. To pass the test we must give him more power.

David Brooks may be right to say that if the Obama program fails it will discredit liberalism and lead to a revival of conservatism.

But that was not what happened during the New Deal. And if it worked for FDR why wouldn't work for Obama.

Let's hope Holman Jenkins was prophetic when he wrote in the Wall Street Journal a couple of days ago: Obama "kids himself if he believes that he will be allowed to preside over a depression without being politically blamed for it. The public is different now-- the world is different-- and he will own the 'Obama depression' sooner than he thinks."


Anonymous said...

In fact, those descriptions of "oligarchy" sound precisely like the way the immediate-past White House operated, with much power centralized in the VP's office. Dan B.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I must have missed it when everyone decided that the Bush administration was being run by the best and the brightest!