ECONOMIST: WE WERE RIGHT TO BE WRONG ABOUT OBAMA
IT TAKES an effort these days to recall the thrill that surged through the world when Barack Obama was elected America’s president. It was not only that he was the first black person to assume the globe’s greatest office. He seemed to be preternaturally thoughtful, dignified and decent; a man who could heal America’s wounds at home and restore its reputation abroad. Though too many were swept away in a collective longing to see hope triumph over experience, none of it seemed wholly unreasonable at the time. Yes, many thought, he can.
In the next paragraph the editors admit that they were amongst those"swept away" and that they were, surprise, surprise, proven wrong! And Americans are ready to throw out their chosen ones.
Two years later, the magnitude of the let-down is palpable everywhere; and at home the president is caught in a vice. To many on the left, he is a cowardly compromiser, whose half-baked plans to get America back to work have done little to help those who voted for him, and whose health-care and financial reforms were gutted at the behest of special interests. To many on the right, he seems a doctrinaire spendthrift who has squandered trillions of dollars on wasteful bureaucracy, mortgaging the future while failing to grapple with the present. To centrists who backed him, including this newspaper, he has been a disappointment, his skills as a president falling far short of his genius as a campaigner.
I thought only"frightened, angry" mobs are supposed to be swept away by demagogues, not well educated Britons. It is true that Liberal Fascists also fell for Mussolini but they have learned their lesson, haven't they? Apparently not and their insistence that they were right to be wrong can be taken as a warning that they are bound to repeat their mistakes.
In the meantime, they admit that the American people have every reason to be dissatisfied with Obama's foreign and domestic policies but argue illogically that he is capable of doing better:
America is now an uncharacteristically uncertain place. Abroad it seems unsure of who its friends and enemies are. At home there are too many imponderables: over how the health bill will play out in practice; over what might happen to energy prices if carbon-pricing is resurrected via executive action; most of all, over what Mr Obama can do about those yawning deficits. People do not like uncertainty; so if Americans are angry, it is hardly surprising. . . .
Despite its problems, America has far more going for it than its current mood suggests. It is still the most innovative economy on earth, the place where the world’s greatest universities meet the world’s deepest pockets. Its demography is favourable, with a high birth rate and limitless space into which to expand. It has a flexible and hard-working labour force. Its ultra-low bond yields are a sign that the world’s investors still think it a good long-term bet. The most enterprising individuals on earth still clamour to come to America. And it still has a talented president who can surely do better than he has thus far.
In other words, they are getting ready to act childishly,"let hope triumph over experience" yet again and endorse him for reelection in 2012.
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