Thursday, August 12, 2010

Drive, Obama Said

By now you have all heard the story. President Obama delights in telling it. He seems to be so thrilled by its wit and cleverness that he keeps on telling it, over and over again.

It's the story of the car in the ditch. According to Obama the Republicans drove the car-- that is, the economy-- into a ditch. Now, he adds, they want the keys back. He, Obama, is not going to let them have the keys back because they do not know how to drive.

And he adds, with a twinkle in his eye, that you should not want to go back to the Republicans because R on your automatic transmission stands for Reverse and D stands for Drive. You see, the Republicans want to take us back to the bad old days, while the Democrats want to drive forward.

On its own terms the riff is barely coherent. Do presidents really drive the economy? Does Obama get to decide who has the keys? Can you drive your way out of a ditch? If you're in a real ditch, maybe putting the car into Drive will cause you to spin your wheels and get you further into the ditch?

Sometimes shifting from R to D is not such a good idea.

Granted, when the Republican president left office, the country was in the midst of a Great R-- a Great Recession, that is.

But now, after 20 months of Obamanomics it is becoming clearer by the day that Obama's greatest achievement might well be to have shifted from R to D, that is to have transformed a Recession into a Depression.

After 20 months with a new driver at the wheel, the economy is still, people are beginning to realize, in the Ditch. For a while people were willing to believe that dreams can come true and that hope would prevail. Yet, economic Recovery is still as elusive as ever.

When Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke about "unusual uncertainty" in the economy, people took notice. When he declared that he was going to be pursue and even more stimulative monetary policy, they understood that he was trying to fight off a deflationary depression.

So, how do you get the car out of the ditch. First, you put it into neutral. And then you call a Tow Truck. Do you think that there is any significance that the words tow and truck both begin, not with D, not with R, but with T?


Robert Pearson said...

A lovely extended metaphor with hints of vanilla and oak, and a sparkling finish. There is a faint aftertaste of Earl Grey.

Ralph said...

I think the next political trend should be one who's time is past due: the idea of the grown up (Christie, Daniels and Jindal currently come to mind).

The economy is not a joke for millions, and he is at a point in his presidency that he needs to take his job as serious as his golf game. The Republicans may have driven the car in a ditch, but he appears to be taking the whole fleet over the cliff.