atheists to the gospel of hope

This time, it’s the Economist.  They are just a bit skeptical of Obama and his economic views. 

FOR a man who has placed “hope” at the centre of his campaign, Barack Obama can sound pretty darned depressing. As the battle for the Democratic nomination reaches a climax in Texas and Ohio, the front-runner’s speeches have begun to paint a world in which laid-off parents compete with their children for minimum-wage jobs while corporate fat-cats mis-sell dodgy mortgages and ship jobs off to Mexico. The man who claims to be a “post-partisan” centrist seems to be channelling the spirit of William Jennings Bryan, the original American populist, who thunderously demanded to know “Upon which side shall the Democratic Party fight—upon the side of ‘the idle holders of idle capital’ or upon the side of ‘the struggling masses’?”

There is no denying that for some middle-class Americans, the past few years have indeed been a struggle. What is missing from Mr Obama’s speeches is any hint that this is not the whole story: that globalisation brings down prices and increases consumer choice; that unemployment is low by historical standards; that American companies are still the world’s most dynamic and creative; and that Americans still, on the whole, live lives of astonishing affluence.

Both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama speak the same way on this, but it is Barack Obama who is seen as the change agent.  Obama is seen as someone who can fix everything that is broken about America and close the inequities he sees between the working class and the people who employ the working class.  It is a common refrain of the political party trying to gain the White House that the economy is bad and that working people are getting hosed, because, after all — if people are satisfied with the status quo, why change parties?

The Economist goes on to suggest that we ignore what Obama says about the bad rich people, because he’s not really a “capitalist-hating demogogue”.  I agree that he’s not, but it’s hard to listen to Obama, Clinton, and Huckabee talking about corporations as evil and that punishing them would help the struggling middle class.  They all believe that government can fix inequities that government was never meant to fix. This kind of mindset enables the fiscal chaos the federal budget is in. 

The Democrats say that they will be more fiscally responsible, yet they have no plan for reforming the entitlements that keep us from getting a handle on federal spending.  Yes, I realize that spending has been one of President’s Bush’s weaknesses, but I don’t see how Hillary and Barack’s new spending proposals get us where we need to be on the budget. 

Even if we pull out of Iraq, there are still spending cuts and reforms to be made if we really want to see the kind of change Barack promises….

Unless these are the same kind of promises Democrats make (and don’t keep) every 4-8 years.


7 thoughts on “atheists to the gospel of hope

  1. That’s an interesting quote from The Economist. It seems to want to agree with the bad economic forecast it claims from Hillary and Obama, but instead decides to settle on agreeing that things have been a struggle, for some that is. So the conservative Republicans at The Economist can agree somewhat that economically speaking there’s been some rough times with the probability of more on the way. Whether or not that places Obama communistically arguing for the masses is comical, both historically and ideologically speaking.

    The Economist chides Hillary and especially Obama for an economic forecast, which they agree has been a struggle the last few Bush years, but then uses current measures to discard a future event it claims the Dem candidates are predicting. I don’t think you’ll find anywhere where Obama (or Hillary) has said that American companies aren’t the most dynamic or that as a whole Americans don’t live the most affluent lives. What the Dems are saying is that “for some,” to Obama and Hillary that “some” is millions of people, things have been rough and will get worse if we continue the same economic policies Bush and the Republicans have laid out for this country. If that’s fighting for the struggling masses then okay. But admitting that there are struggling masses sort of, kind of negates The Economist’s whole article. And by admitting that there is no struggling, which the article doesn’t, defies every economic indicator out there. So I guess this whole thing depends on what the definition of “some” is 😉

  2. It’s more than arguing that “some” are struggling. I don’t think you will find too much disagreement with that statement, even on the Republican side. But the truth is more complicated than what the Dems are suggesting. It’s a simplistic approach to blame the country’s financial struggles just on the feds and big corporations.

    People have free choice in this country, and sometimes they make bad choices. I believe that while there may be a group of people who are having trouble paying bills, that group is not as large as Hillary and Barack say it is. Even if they are right about the numbers, I’m not sure how much responsibility the feds have for this. If people buy something they can’t afford, that’s their choice. The feds don’t have the obligation to bail them out.

    Sure there are policies we could change to make it easier for people to get health care or to make gasoline more affordable, but even after we make those changes, there are no guarantees.

    The objection I have (and the Economist seems to have)is that this kind of rhetoric (rich vs. poor, big employers vs. struggling employees) divides people. It sounds similar to what the communists said back in the good ol’ Cold War days. The difference is that Hillary and Barack aren’t arguing for total government control of all private industry. At least they haven’t said it out loud. But their faith in the power and potential effectiveness of new government programs is very alarming. I thought you were for less executive/federal power and control. Or is that just for Republicans named Bush? 😛

    Nevermind. I withdraw the question. I think we have exhausted the topic of Bush’s weaknesses between PN and this blog. 😉

  3. Their exact words are: “There is no denying that for some middle-class Americans, the past few years have indeed been a struggle.” To me that’s sort of agreeing with the notion that there are people facing real struggles but not all the way agreeing with what they propose Hillary and Obama are saying. And they propose that Hillary and Obama are huddling the masses by predicting a world with massive layoffs and big corporations shipping jobs overseas. My question is what part are they sort of, kind of, maybe agreeing with? And in their own words, they agree that “some” are struggling. So how many is some?

    Whether some is 10 people or 1 million, The Economist is saying that yes the Bush years have not been kind to middle America and some are struggling. Then turning around and chiding Hillary and Obama for doing the very same thing. The difference being how much is “some.”

    Then they throw something in there about the Dem candidates not saying enough about how dynamic our corporations are, or how American lifestyles are more affluent than anywhere else in the world. I challenge anyone to find a quote from either Obama or Hillary where they’ve said such. With that, they’re just making stuff up. That’s surprising since communism is the realization of class struggle, and here is the big bad capitalist Economist admitting a communist notion. Unless of course they are suggesting that if only “some” are struggling then there is no class struggle, which again depends on what the consider some to be.

    When Republicans or The Economist suggests class struggle, it’s okay. But if a Dem speaks up for those who are struggling every day, that’s communist innuendo.

    Well, I don’t expect you to answer all my questions, it wouldn’t be fair to ask that of you, since you didn’t write the op-ed. You linked to it so I thought I would see your thoughts. I’ve also written to The Economist to ask them the very same questions. We’ll see if they reply. I’m not holding my breath but if they do I’ll post it on my blog. Also, while reading the whole article, I noticed where it mentions that working class white males are swing voters in America and could prove detrimental to the Dems in November. Since when have employed white males been swing voters?

    And, hey, where’s my preview button? You know I can’t work without a preview button. I make too many mistakes to just hit submit. I think this is your way of disenfranchising me 🙂

  4. My understanding of it is that they are saying that Hillary and Barack are exaggerating about how bad the economy is. I agree with that. Their point is that there are people struggling, but the Dems are only telling one side of the story. That’s my interpretation (subject to modification as needed).

    Aren’t presidents supposed to have solutions to problems? Isn’t that the whole argument of the Dems? That they can solve our problems that the Republicans have failed to solve? (These problems, of course, are the same ones Democrats have failed to make much headway on for 40+ years.)

    The Economist is just stating an opinion. They believe that Obama and Hillary don’t say as many good things about corporations or about how good American life is overall. That’s different that asserting that the Dem candidates are actively talking down the economy, in which case they should back that up with quotes.

    You know I’m not accusing Barack or Hillary of being Communists. I’ll leave that for talk radio to decide. 😛 But it’s a similar argument they are making — give more power and control to the state and it will take care of your needs. Health care, retirement — nothing is off-limits to the Dem free spenders.

    It is an interesting idea that working class white males would be swing voters. That’s possible. It could be the same group that kept electing Tories in the UK until “New Labour” and Blair came along.

    Re: the preview button. I’m not disenfranchising you — I’m leveling the playing field. It’s easier for me to win arguments if you make mistakes. 😛

  5. I think accusing them of communism is exactly what this op-ed is doing. In a very subtle way that is. I don’t believe the Dems are exaggerating how bad the economy is. There’s no doubt there are people struggling, like The Economists agrees, and there’s no doubt that the economy is in worse shape than when Bush took over. The Dow tripled in the 90s. Right now it has a net gain of about 1,000 points for the Bush tenure. Unemployment is higher than when Bush took over and for the first time since the Depression net income has dropped for American households.

    The Dems are no more free spending than the Republicans. If increasing spending and government size is all that is required to be a communist, like The Economists is insinuating, then George Bush is Karl Marx.

    I completely agree that government can’t solve all the problems and that president’s are supposed to come up with solutions. I just don’t agree with calling Democrats communists and not Republicans.

    I don’t think the op-ed is saying working white males would be swing voters. It’s saying that swing voters have always typically been working white men. That’s just not true, which as you now is what got me to thinking that this op-ed really has no clue what it’s talking about. Working white males haven’t been a swing vote since they were the only ones who could vote.

    I love this preview!!!

  6. Chris regularly gets his head handed to him on RFL. Just kiddin’ Buddy.

    I think the question that should be asked is why do the Democrats talk down the economy every two and four years?

    Why should we believe them on the economy anyway? They’ve been telling us things have been bad since ’03, contrary to reality. They’ve fought the tax cuts, which means they have a fundamental misunderstanding of simple economic principles.

    Trusting Democrats on the economy is as foolhearty as trusting them on national security. They are demagogues, hypocrites of the first order. They are sloganeers, nothing more.

    And for all the hand wringing over out-of-control spending, electing a President Clinton or a President Obama assures that spending will be bumped up another 1000%, with all the health care crap and all the bleeding heart Liberal social programs.

  7. That’s why I believe that Hillary and Barack are being irresponsible with their spending proposals. If the economy is as bad as they claim it is, then the last thing you want to do is increase taxes and government programs. When the average person is in a cash crunch, the last thing they would consider doing is spending even more money on non-essential purchases. Yet this is the mindset of Washington politicians, including Mr. Obama, who has adopted just as much of its belief system as Hillary has.

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