Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ann Althouse responds to a Maureen Dowd column:
Was it his [Obama's] ability? Or were we the ones that had the ability — the ability to see him as able when he was up there on the campaign platform mouthing abstractions? He's still up there — on what Maureen Dowd calls "a balcony" — but now all the concrete problems of the world are his responsibility. He hasn't changed. He hasn't stopped doing something he was able to do before. But we have reached the end of our capacity to idealize him. We don't like him up there, looking down, where things are going so wrong. We are withholding our trust. But rightly so! This ability to trust is not a very impressive ability. Let's be critical. Being critical, we have no reason to talk about whether the President is adequately soothing us.
This made me ponder why I trusted George W. Bush, and still trust his sincerity, though not his judgment; and why I've never trusted Obama, just as I never trusted Clinton. Maybe it was that they were promising more than anybody could deliver. Bush promised "compassionate conservatism" and to bring a more civil tone to Washington. Obama promised to remake America. His campaign theme, Hope and Change, was too vague. The government has never given me hope for anything, except for fighting terrorism, which is now waning. And what kind of change? I doubt that anybody who voted for him expected high unemployment, a sluggish economy and ineptitude during crises. I thought he was inexperienced and had a naive and foolish attitude toward foreign policy.

But it wasn't Obama alone that we trusted. We elected huge majorities of Democrats to Congress. Combine that with The One in the White House, and we got to see how the country is governed without Republicans. I think that for all the sins of Republicans in the past, they'd still be better than this. In a way I agree with those who argue that Obama's being blamed unfairly for the BP spill. He didn't cause it, and the failure of government to fix it as soon as it happened is an institutional failure. What upsets me, and apparently George Will, is that government has made so many promises it couldn't keep, and that, because of the amounts of spending tied up in entitlement programs, the only savings it has been able to make come from legitimate governmental functions, like national defense and enforcing existing laws.


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