Monday, November 24, 2008

The Left's Wishful Thinking and a Failing Strategy

Wishful thinking is a poor substitute for strategy.

William Greider puts it really well in his comment in The Nation today, with perhaps a hint of self-criticism, that easily could apply in much larger measure to The Nation more generally:
A year ago, when Barack Obama said it was time to turn the page, his campaign declaration seemed to promise a fresh start for Washington. I, for one, failed to foresee Obama would turn the page backward. The president-elect's lineup for key governing positions has opted for continuity, not change. Virtually all of his leading appointments are restoring the Clinton presidency, only without Mr. Bill. In some important ways, Obama's selections seem designed to sustain the failing policies of George W. Bush.

This is not the last word and things are changing rapidly. But Obama's choices have begun to define him. His victory, it appears, was a triumph for the cautious center-right politics that has described the Democratic party for several decades. Those of us who expected more were duped, not so much by Obama but by our own wishful thinking.
What is more, as Greider points out, the Rubinites Summers, Geithner, Orszag and Furman are more likely to merely better manage a failing strategy than to change course:
Wasting more public money on insolvent mastodons is the least of it. The real scandal is it doesn't work. It can't work because the black hole is too large even for Washington to fill. Government should take over the failing institutions or force them into bankruptcy, break them up and sell them off or mercifully relieve everyone, including the taxpayers.
The more things "change," the more they stay the same? As German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt used to say, 'if you suffer from visions, go see a doctor.'

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