Conservatives in Washington (oxymoronic as that may sound) greeted the Obama inauguration with mixed feelings, to put it mildly. Some were accepting, and even attended inauguration-related events. Others in these troubled economic times rented their homes to Obamaphiles willing to pay an arm and a leg just to be on hand for the hyped-up festivities. Finally, there were those who left their houses under lock and key and fled the area for the entire long weekend, in a complete boycott and blackout of anything having to do with the swearing-in of the 44th president of the United States. I don’t think they returned to Washington any wiser or happier.
Political life goes on, as in the U.S. it always does. It’s not the end of the world, merely the beginning of a new day, and last we checked the earth was rotating at its regular speed on the same axis. Even more comforting, the victorious Democrats, left to their own devices, were botching matters at a faster clip than even the sorest GOP losers might have wished for. If the Obama team can’t find a way to contain the Illinois mullah Blagojevich, how ever will it cope with nuclear-equipped mullahs? Uber-liberal E.J. Dionne actually praised Obama’s “patented approach to problems—wait and think to see what develops before acting” as a political winner for Democrats.
The modern liberal evidently thinks he can control events by having them control him. It’s going to be a twisted next four years.
Conservatives have been there before. As a longstanding product of Chicago politics and survivor of 1964, 1976, and 1992, Bob Tyrrell this month offers them all the coping mechanisms and survival guidance they will need during their latest sojourn in the political wilderness (p. 78). The great Roger Scruton provides the philosophical underpinnings for life in serious opposition—beginning with the axiom “There is no greater political virtue than the ability to accept the government of people whom you heartily dislike” (p. 38). Maybe one of these decades the Bush-loathing culture will second that emotion.
For now that same Obama-adoring culture is living in denial. For all the harsh domestic and international realities the new administration is having to address, the buildup to the inauguration could rarely go beyond covering such grave matters as the former Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg’s qualifications, the Obama children’s new private school, and the bodysurfing brilliance their father displayed along the shores of blue Hawaii. Serious questions received short shrift, unless they could be blamed solely on the outgoing president. So Democratic policies didn’t set in motion the housing crisis and collapse of the mortgage market? Peter Wallison authoritatively begs to differ (p. 22). And government regulators continue to exacerbate a problem they could otherwise mitigate? A panel of experts brought together by our economics editor, Brian Wesbury, explains the how and why (p. 28).
President Obama is said to have a dream team at his disposal, but no one should confuse it with the Charles Barkley edition that knocked off Angola 116–48 back at the 1992 Olympics. That team didn’t have Hillary Clinton at point guard, or Eric Holder fixing calls with the referees. Nor did it have Tom Daschle as the team doctor and pill dispenser. Of all Obama’s players, Dr. Tom comes best prepared, determined to complete the mission Hillary Clinton, in her rookie year, failed to accomplish. He’s even written a book about what he intends to do. If you liked the Federal Reserve Board, you’ll love Daschle’s Federal Health Board.
As Philip Klein, our Washington correspondent, reports (p. 16), Daschle so far is facing next to no opposition from Republicans. And we don’t know, given their dwindling skills and thinned out rosters (see also Jim Antle, p. 42), whether they’ll even take the floor. Perhaps Angola would prove to be more competitive.