Friday, January 28, 2011

Tea'd Off Politics:

On the whole, I liked the article by Christopher Hitchens, linked below.

Tea'd Off Politics:

I must take issue with two lines, however.

The first:
Ten percent unemployment, on the other hand, is rather a disgrace to a midterm Democratic administration.
Technically this is true. It is probable, in my estimation, that this is also practically true, insofar as a substantial number of voters believe the current economic climate to be the sole or significant product of President Obama's policies. It is not. To be certain, we're far enough in his presidency to hold him accountable for the results of his policies. But Hitchens, and I believe most Americans, miss a vital factor: Republican obstructionism. Wielding the anti-democratic power of the filibuster, the G.O.P. maintains effective control over the Senate, and has done so since they became the minority party there. I'm too lazy right now to keep looking for a list, but analytically, one must consider what came out of the Democratically-controlled House as the starting point for Obama's agenda. The final result, which was either a dead bill, or one watered-down so much as to be neutered (e.g., the "stimulus"), is the product not of Obama and the Democrats, but of Republican willingness to block any and all legislation (not to mention judicial appointments). The disgrace, contra Hitchens, is the single-minded focus with which the Senate G.O.P attempted (and largely succeeded) to destroy Obama's presidency, even where it harmed the very people they were (supposedly) elected to serve. I'm well aware of who their actual constituency is.

The second:
But does anybody believe that unemployment would have gone down if the hated bailout had not occurred and GM had been permitted to go bankrupt?
The "hated bailout" was a Bush administration policy. Granted, Obama supported it as a Senator. The issue, however, is the misconception that it was Obama's bailout. The thrust of my argument here is not whether Obama would have done it anyway, or his non-opposition to the bailout, but to the degree to which policies are not properly attributed to those who enacted them.

I agree with Hitchens' larger point, which is that the "bailout" probably averted a much larger disaster. But the sad answer to his question is, "yes." For a person like Hitchens, who has debated so well against Believers, to suddenly ignore the power of magical thinking is curious. Perhaps if he spent more time debating "free market" radicals, he'd realize that the answer to the question is obvious.

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