Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The idiot premise of the latest David Brooks column is that "Dr. Faustus, the famous left-wing philologist," encounters "Mephistopheles, who happened to be the provost at his college," sometime in the Bush years, and Mephistopheles offers Faustus five wishes, all of which are granted:

"... First, I would like the nation to be hurled into an economic crisis caused by Wall Street greed and recklessness. This will discredit free-market fundamentalism once and for all....

"Then I would like you to find the smartest Democratic politician in the land and make him president....

"Then I would like you to create a political climate so he can immediately enact an $800 billion spending package. This will avert economic collapse and show the American people how effective government can be....

"Then I would like the Democrats to pass a universal health care law. This will show a grateful nation that government can provide basic security....

"If you do all this, America will be transformed. Conservatism will be in retreat and liberalism will reign supreme! Just to be sure, I would like a multinational oil company to cause the biggest environmental disaster in American history. This will completely discredit corporate America and remind people why they need strong regulations and global warming legislation."

"It will be done."

Har-de-har-har! You see where this is going. Be careful what you wish for, lefty! Except who on the left actually wished for all that trouble, or would have? Who really thought trouble would help Obama?

Brooks isn't a Fox/teabag righty, but the memes of the Fox crowd do migrate to more "respectable" movement-conservative circles, and thence to Bobo. Although he never invokes the quote, I can't help thinking he really believes we lefties all saw overlapping national calamities as a marvelous opportunity -- and he believes this simply because Rahm Emanuel notoriously said that you should never let a crisis go to waste.

(May I just say right now that I wish I could go back in time and cause a small piece of food to be temporarily lodged in Emanuel's windpipe moments before he said that? That little quip has done a great deal of damage.)

It was obvious even in the early days of the financial meltdown that Obama's ambitious plans -- cap-and-trade, expanded aid for education, letting the holy and sacrosanct Bush tax cuts lapse for the rich, not to mention health care reform -- were going to be a much tougher sell in a recession, and we knew that even before we knew how bad it would be. Jim Lehrer to Obama in the first Obama-McCain debate:

As president, as a result of whatever financial rescue plan comes about and the billion, $700 billion, whatever it is it's going to cost, what are you going to have to give up, in terms of the priorities that you would bring as president of the United States, as a result of having to pay for the financial rescue plan?

I think a lot of us thought Obama would be better than he's been at juggling big plans and unforeseen crises -- but we bloody well didn't think unforeseen crises would be beneficial for him.

I think Brooks has us confused with his righty compatriots, who think everything is an affirmation of their own preconceptions. Boom times? We need tax cuts, because we can afford them! Recession? We need tax cuts, because the economy will suffer otherwise! Crime going up? We need more Jesus in our lives! Crime going down? It just proves we're favored by God! And on and on. You know the drill.

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