Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Thoughts After Obama's Speech

Well, we have our president.

Sure, I disagree with a number of his assumptions, for example that it's wise to
  • use taxpayer dollars to keep jobs in the U.S
  • further expand redistributive "justice"
  • ask taxpayers to pay yet more into the public education system. Research has not shown spending more to yield more learning.
  • guarantee "higher ed for all." I believe that will translate into lining the pockets of higher education. If tuition is more affordable, colleges will simply raise tuition more, which is what has happened every time government increases financial aid to students.
And I get the sense that Obama is overpromising and will underdeliver: How can he give a tax cut to 95% of Americans and still pay for all the programs he called for, not to mention the programs he didn't mention: for example, the costs of legalizing the 13 million illegals in the US: health care, education, welfare, criminal justice costs, etc.?

But those issues are, for now, beside the point. I predict that Obama's inordinate oratorical gifts, strong intelligence and personal charisma, in concert with his outstanding behind-the-scenes team and a besotted media, will get him elected in a landslide, giving him a broad mandate for his big-government approach.

While my best judgment is that, on average, private sector/small-government approaches ultimately do the most good for the most people, I believe no one can with great confidence assert whether, at this point in history, that's true. The question is affected by too many factors to predict with certitude.

But Obama is a far better--indeed an inspiring--standard bearer for the big-government approach than McCain is for small government. And after eight years of an inept, hubristic Republican, the public wants--well--change.

And they're going to get it: America's most liberal senator as president, a liberal congress, and a more baldly liberal media than any in history will create a perfect storm for a grand experiment on the efficacy of big government.

I am curious to see how it works out, and, of course, wish Obama well.


Anonymous said...

I agree that a few months from now, we will be addressing our nation's leader as "President Obama."

I read the speech beforehand. I read many buzzwords, especially "change" and "promise," but as I expected, little substance. Perhaps that is something the public does not really need.

Maybe it's the natural cynic in me, but as I read his speech, the more he talked about change and promise and new directions, I kept hearing one phrase in the back of my head: "business as usual."

You wish Obama well. I wish the country well.

Anonymous said...

Marty, you're the greatest. But... when it comes to politics, your predictions don't have the greatest track record. You also predicted Hillary would win in '04, and you gave McCain the bad advice to select her as his running mate this year.

Obama may very well win, but don't get caught up in the euphoria just yet. Obama will likely choke during the debates, and McCain will trounce him if Saddleback is any indication.

I don't see what was so horrible about the past 8 years, but I agree most Americans want change. And with McCain, they will get change.

Marty Nemko said...

I wouldn't say the past eight years were horrible, but they were bad enough that the public wanted change:

1. Bush ignored the world's pleas that the U.N. inspectors plus negotiation would be a wiser approach than invading Iraq--and we've now spent incredible amounts of money and imposed great hardships on the people of Iraq and on our soldiers and their families, with too little to show for it. And we're now more vulnerable to problems in Afghanistan, Iran, etc.

2. On the domestic front, his signature program (with Democrat support) is No Child Left Behind--a monumental failure for low and high ability kids alike.

3. There have been more than the usual number of ethical lapses: from Scooter Libby to Dick Cheney's facilitating sweetheart deals with his corporate cronies.

4. It wasn't Bush's fault, but ever more people are worrying about the security of their employment, how they'll pay for gas, let alone college, and about their health care. Bush didn't cause these problems, but in his eight years, he didn't help fix them either.

Dave said...

It was what I expected it to be. At the end of the speech, and thus the convention, Obama still runs the risk of talking “change” without any distinctive, coherent presentation of why that change puts him head-and-shoulders above McCain.

He could have taken on the abysmal economic record of the Bush Administration and some of the abysmal economic conceptions of McCain, much as Bill Clinton used the economy to defeat George H.W. Bush in 1992. He did not.

He could have gone beyond his superficial “end dependency on foreigners and their oil” message with a clear statement putting the issue of energy not just in American but international context. He did not.

He could have set out a foreign policy, while noting the mistake of the Iraq War, also noted the mistake of simply “getting tough” in other arenas -- let’s say Afghanistan -- instead of stepping back and considering alternatives to military boots on the ground. He did not.

He is letting the Republicans reoccupy the field and allowing them to evade the economic and foreign policy legacy of the Bush Administration.

Anonymous said...

While my best judgment is that private sector/small-government approaches ultimately do the most good for the most people, I believe no one can with great confidence assert whether, at this point in history, that's true. The issue is too complicated to predict with certitude.

Wow, what a sad, sad comment from a supposed libertarian.

“In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all — security, comfort, and freedom. When…the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free.” — Sir Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)

Marty Nemko said...

I've never said I was a pure Libertarian. As Emerson wrote, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

I suspect that there are factors affecting a country at a given point in world history in which bigger government represents a net good.

I am not wise enough to know if this is that time, and am inclined, as I wrote, to believe advocate small govt/private-sector solutions are the best.

But I am unsure enough to not, apriori assert we will certainly be doomed under a super-big-govt president, a big-government, congress and media.

It certainly will be interesting to watch.


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