Obama’s failure, Scott Walker’s success: Clinton’s support of Reaganomics.
“I thought Bill Clinton was a great President. The first two years were really bad. Then he changed the tune and became even more Reagan than Reagan. He did the ‘97 Capital Gains Tax Act, he did welfare reform, he appointed Greenspan twice, he pushed NAFTA through Congress, how wonderful was that. “He cut Government spending as a share of GDP by 3½%. He left us with surpluses. This man did a fantastic job for the country. He was a very good President.” — Economist and Reagan aide Arthur Laffer, father of “The Laffer Curve”
Scott Walker wins, while Bill Clinton regales Democrats with boasts of his own economic successes.
The Reagan Consensus Lives.
Bill Clinton is to Ronald Reagan as Dwight D. Eisenhower was to Franklin D. Roosevelt.
And as the Wisconsin Recall recedes into history’s rearview mirror, Barack Obama and the Stealth Socialism he represents is nowhere but in trouble.
Which is exactly why all of these stories about the sub rosa rivalry between ex-President Clinton and President Obama are so relevant, not to mention important to understand.
First, Ike and FDR.
Dwight D. Eisenhower famously rode into the White House in 1952 as a genuine American hero. While other presidents had distinguished war records, only a small handful had to that point entered the presidency celebrated for their military genius. Specifically that handful would be the Revolutionary War’s George Washington, the War of 1812’s Andrew Jackson, the Mexican-American War’s Zachary Taylor and the Civil War’s Ulysses S. Grant. (Theodore Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill had won him accolades in the Spanish-American War but TR was a politician briefly turned citizen-soldier, not a career military man.)
Ike was the man behind D-Day, indisputably one of the central events in ending World War II. He had a fabulous grin and a likeable personality — not for nothing his campaign’s famous slogan, “I Like Ike.”
But a political thinker Ike was not, nor did he pretend to be one.
In 1952, the Republican Party had been out of the White House for 20 years. In the space of those 20 years Americans had become convinced that the liberal theory of Big Government — aka the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt and the Fair Deal of Harry Truman — was the wave of the future. Modernity was here — and Big Government was its name.
In 1936, 1940, 1944 and 1948 the GOP had begun a conscious shift to acceptance of what Barry Goldwater would later scorn as the “dime store New Deal.” The Big Government idea was accepted as political gospel — and GOP progressives or liberals believed that the route to political success for both the GOP and country was to simply swallow the concept whole. Presidential nominees opposing FDR and Truman — Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, and Thomas E. Dewey twice — were all liberal Republicans.
Ironically, so too was the much maligned Herbert Hoover a progressive Republican, his ideas on the role of government being so acceptable to Democrats in 1920 that a young FDR thought Hoover should be the Democratic nominee to face Ohio’s Republican Warren Harding. Hoover, alas, declared for the GOP and was made Harding’s Commerce Secretary — a post he held for a wary Calvin Coolidge as well. (Coolidge would famously remark that Hoover had spent the Coolidge presidency giving him advice — “all of it bad” — but made no move to stop his Commerce Secretary from being nominated to replace him in 1928.)
Eisenhower was very much in the moderate Republican role. Not as a result of any thorough study of political philosophy — he was a student of matters military. But to the extent he had thought politics through, Ike was a thorough-going moderate. Like Hoover, Eisenhower too was a favorite of Democrats, many of whom wanted to draft him to replace Truman atop the 1948 Democratic ticket. By 1952 his biggest backers included Dewey and Massachusetts GOP liberal Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. His biggest opponent was famously Ohio’s conservative “Mr. Republican” Senator Robert Taft. If the initial GOP split over Big Government had occurred in 1912 with the battle between Taft’s presidential father William Howard Taft and then-ex GOP president Theodore Roosevelt, the next huge intra-party battle was between Robert Taft and Ike.
By 1952, after 20 years of the New Deal and Fair Deal, Taft had begun to form a cohesive intellectual refutation of Big Government. Simultaneous to this, the conservative intellectual revolution that would be the foundation for today’s conservative movement was taking shape. A young William F. Buckley, Jr. had already burst onto the national scene as the author of a scathing attack on liberalism in education — God and Man at Yale.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?