CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
By Geoff Metcalf
January 7, 2009
Sizzle ain’t steak
Reality looms just around the corner as President-elect Obama prepares for his coronation/inaugural. As the confluence of saying and doing approaches one is reminded of the final scene in the 1972 Robert Redford movie “The Candidate,” when after finally winning the election he wasn’t supposed to, the winner is seen turning to his campaign poobah and asking, “Marvin ... What do we do now?”
The recent presidential election was the most expensive in world history. Aided with oodles of (sometimes) questionable money and a complicit main stream media, Obama maintained the fiction of “change” and renaissance to win. Now what?
Without even factoring in the unanticipated, inevitable mega crisis, President Obama sits down to an already overfull plate.
• Gaza/Israel-Hamas: The ubiquitous “Mideast problem” is yet further exacerbated and past harsh rhetoric and perpetual reciprocal killings escalate.
• China, Russia, North Korea, and Cuba.
• Economy is in the toilet and billion dollar bail outs seem to be the coming rage, notwithstanding the inevitable reality that “someone” is going to have to come up with that Trillion dollars.
• Congressional hubris, already a stage four carcinogenic, seems poised for a power induced “my way or the highway” jihad against their constituents.
• The EU (that Peter Hitchens once called the next Soviet Union) continues to solidify their economic clout…primarily by undermining U.S. strengths.
Such is a long and very incomplete list of what President Obama will find in his morning briefing folder when he plops down in the oval office.
Historian Jay Wink crystallized the loneliness of the Oval Office in the Wall Street Journal.
“The day after Abraham Lincoln's election, he assembled a gaggle of reporters and boisterously declared, ‘Well boys, your troubles are now over; mine have only just begun.’” And THAT Jack is a fact. Wink notes that “the best advisers can't take momentous decisions out of the president's hands.”
Regardless of how many grey haired wise men Obama surrounds himself with, ultimately it will be his call (complete with the attendant consequences) when faced with valued allies at war, a chemical, biological or nuclear attack on U.S. soil, or natural disaster.
Thomas Jefferson once noted, “No man will ever bring out of the Presidency the reputation which carried him into it.”
No one knows what the next four years will bring. Frankly, I wish the new president well, and hope and pray that he exceeds expectations and frustrates his critics (yours truly included). However, despite what we want for the country, conventional wisdom (and the systemic “Jones” for spending, suggests Obama has the potential of overshadowing Jimmy Carter.
Abraham Lincoln correctly observed, "You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of many by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves."
And yet the articulated agenda of the incoming administration is: discourage thrift to gain prosperity; weaken the strong to strengthen the weak; put down the wage payer to help the earner; encourage class hatred to further the brotherhood of many; destroy the rich to help the poor; spend what we don’t have to get out of trouble created by spending; destroy initiative and independence; and abandon self reliance so Big Brother can take care of you?
Stuff happens and things change. Wants, needs and desires inevitably are overwhelmed by inertia. Hey, George W. Bush, campaigned on humility in foreign policy. That was his articulated want and desire. Then 9/11 happened and suddenly his policy is to impose democracy globally whether recipients of his largess wanted it or not. Stuff happens and things change.
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It has always been fascinating that running for office requires two (often diametrically opposed) skill sets. First, the candidate must be a great salesman. They have to establish rapport, proselytize and overcome objections at the same time. However, if or when elected, the skills required to manage as the executive are very different and not often transferable. “Despite his many talents, Mr. Obama's presidency will almost certainly be a tall order given his lack of experience,” said Wink.
Ambrose Bierce said, "The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff."