3 thoughts on “An untransformational president

  1. Coming from Tomasky, that was actually rather remarkable. I haven’t read much by Tomasky in a while as I had generally become disgusted with him where Obama was concerned. He seems to have undergone something of a shift. I’m not sure when that shift happened — like I said, I haven’t been paying much attention to what he’s had to say — but the fact that it has seems to me a sure sign that even amongst the most loyal Obamaphiles, a storm is brewing. I would say better late than never, but in this case, I’m not sure that really applies. The damage is done.

  2. The monetarist libertairian ideologues of the pre-Reagan era had this theory of how to kill inflation by “stopping the printing press” and other radical things that only they understood. They knew that if their remedy was applied there would be a period of extreme pain and the conventional politicians never had the nerve to do it. They would take some kind of step toward the monetarist policy and then back off when it started to hurt. What they needed was a politician who could take their radical ideology and then apply it without being affected by outcry of pain in the recession that followed. They found this person in Reagan who was an actor who read his lines, stood on the mark and who knew it wasn’t real because it was a movie. He was the Altzheimer’s President, who lived in his own reality and believed what he was told. (The only time he ever got off the script was when the hostage families got inside his bubble and pleaded with him personally. All his ideology and policies went out the window and we started negotiating with terrorist Iran.) Bob Schieffer wrote a book about him called “The Acting President”, because everything about him suggested that he could not distinguish being the President from being in the movies. This was the “Transformational President” who transformed politics being the face of his ideological script writers.

    President Obama (I try to be respectful in mentioning him) has simply settled down inside the bubble created for him by his wealthy corporate handlers. They present reality to him as they want him to know it, and he is happy to accept it without question. The only time he get mad is when pressed by people who contradict his picture of the world: the rich will take care of us (especially take care of me) if we take care of them.

    We have been somewhat misled into thinking that the Democratic Party is a liberal party, the party of FDR and LBJ. Actually the democrats have been a fairly conservative, often racist group of practical politicians who did what was necessary to benefit themselves and their loyal constituents. FDR only became a democrat because he did not want to be in the shadow of his Republican uncle Theodore who was a real Progressive. Reluctantly, in the desperate crisis of 1932, the democrats in congress let themselves be led into the New Deal, but always with a great amount of reluctance and grumbling about deficit spending, big government and states rights to be racist. The New Deal only lasted a few years and FDR himself insisted on pulling it back and cutting spending in 1936 – because he was scared of the deficit. He killed his own recovery, but fortunately had the sense to reverse course. The Kennedy’s were no liberals, and LBJ’s Great Society lasted only from 1964 to 1967. The Democrat Party is not a liberal party and its only liberal eras (a total of about 10 years) were brief aberrations. Obama is really an example of a true democrat, of the party of the big city bosses (Dailey) and the southern racists (the Blue Dogs, formerly Copperheads) and the New York Tammany machine. No transformation here, only a revival.

  3. I came across this lately reading a book called “American Made: How FDR Put America Back to Work” It refers to what happened in 1937 when FDR almost killed his own New Deal trying to cut the deficit. It sounds very familiar, “bipartisan”.

    The Conservative Manifesto

    In 1937, U.S. Senator Josiah Bailey of North Carolina was concerned that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal programs were leading America and North Carolina down the road to collectivism. Although he did not oppose every attempt at government intervention, Senator Bailey believed that limitations should be placed on government growth.

    In 1937, the nation experienced an economic recession, and partisan lines blurred as Republicans and conservative Democrats formed a coalition to protest Roosevelt’s attempt to “pack the court.” That year, FDR placed the “responsibility for pulling the nation out of economic recession on business interests,” writes historian John Robert Moore. However, President Roosevelt offered no economic recovery plan nor lifted restrictions so that businesses could rescue a collapsing economy. In this time of economic uncertainty, Bailey fostered bi-partisan opposition to FDR’s New Deal programs. In hopes of revitalizing the national economy, reluctant New Dealers and anti-New Dealers drafted the Conservative Manifesto to serve as the blueprint for economic recovery and offer what they considered practical solutions.

    The planning and writing of the manifesto were done without the knowledge of FDR. Eventually the secretive work of the bi-partisan alliance was leaked, and fearing political repercussions, many Senators denied any involvement with the creation of the Conservative Manifesto. Bailey, however, accepted responsibility.

    According to Moore, the Conservative Manifesto’s ten points were as follows:
    1. Immediate revision of taxes on capital gains and undistributed profits in order to free investment funds.
    2. Reduced expenditures to achieve a balanced budget, and thus, to still fears deterring business expansion.
    3. An end to coercion and violence in relations between capital and labor.
    4. Opposition to “unnecessary” government competition with private enterprise.
    5. Recognition that private investment and enterprise require a reasonable profit.
    6. Safeguarding the collateral upon which credit rests.
    7. Reduction of taxes, or if this proved impossible at the moment, firm assurance of no further increases.
    8. Maintenance of state rights, home rule, and local self-government, except where proved definitely inadequate.
    9. Economical and non-political relief to unemployed with maximum local responsibility. 10. Reliance upon the American form of government and the American system of enterprise.

    The document was soon labeled as anti-New Deal. Bailey wrote the manifesto, however, because in his mind Roosevelt needed to help provide a proper balance between enterprise and government. Bailey also wanted to remind FDR that bi-partisan opposition to further collectivization was possible.

    The Conservative Manifesto, and its bi-partisan support, offered Bailey hope that reform was imminent. Meanwhile, FDR met with leading New Deal Senators, including George Norris of Nebraska and Robert Wagner of New York, to find ways to resist conservative opposition. Eventually, however, enough bi-partisan support checked the New Deal. According to Moore, the manifesto provided conservatives with the means later to destroy some New Deal programs, and according to historian Douglas Carl Abrams, Bailey’s opposition “created momentum for postwar conservatism and a viable” two party competition in North Carolina.

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