- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2009

LIBERAL’S DREAM

Barack Obama’s first budget is a revelation,” Clive Crook writes in the Financial Times.

”The U.S. president’s plans will not come to pass in the form he suggests. Congress writes the laws and will make a hash of it. Still, this first full statement of intentions speaks volumes, and leaves me in a paradoxical position. On one hand, I admire much of what the budget says. On the other, I feel I owe Republicans an apology,” Mr. Crook said.

“As you recall, in the debate over the fiscal stimulus, Republicans accused the president of presenting a measure they could not support, disguising this with an empty show of cooperation. Bipartisanship, they said, is more than inviting your opponents round for coffee and a chat. I did not buy it: I accused them, in effect, of brainless rejectionism and a refusal to compromise, and congratulated the president for trying to come to terms with the other side.

“This budget says the Republicans had Mr Obama right all along. The draft contains no trace of compromise. It makes no gesture, however small, however costless to its larger agenda, of a bipartisan approach to the great questions it addresses. It is a liberal’s dream of a new New Deal.”

REPUDIATING BUSH

”From his inauguration address forward, President Obama hasn’t pulled any punches in criticizing the record of his predecessor, George W. Bush, Ronald Brownstein writes at theatlantic.com.

”In that process - which reached a new peak with the release of the administration’s budget plan last Thursday - Obama is aggressively employing a strategy used by the presidents who have most powerfully realigned the political landscape through American history. It is an approach that Yale University political scientist Stephen Skowronek has shrewdly termed ‘the authority to repudiate.’

“In a classic 1997 book called ‘The Politics Presidents Make’ and a 2008 follow-up called ‘Presidential Leadership in Political Time,’ Skowronek noted that the presidents who most successfully constructed lasting electoral majorities all followed presidents widely viewed as failures. These repeated couplings between ‘manifest incapacity and towering success’ have included John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1800; John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson in 1828; James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln in 1860; Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932; and, most recently, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in 1980.

”Skowronek argues that these dynamic presidents - whom he dubs ‘reconstructive leaders’ - have succeeded not only because of their own skills. Their impact is so great because they arrived at a moment when the dominant party over the previous generation has been discredited by failure or corruption, or both, and large voting blocs are open to something new.”

DISHONEST SCIENCE

”Last month, college campuses held a ‘National Teach-in on Global Warming Solutions.’ The thrust of the message was that there is a crisis because global temperatures are rising, endangering the world’s future, and humans are to blame,” Jane S. Shaw writes at popecenter.org.

”I agree that there may be a crisis, but I don’t believe that it is a crisis of impending heat; it is, rather, a crisis of intellectual integrity,” said Miss Shaw, an author of books about climate and global warming who heads the Pope Center and is a senior fellow of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC).

“First, let me point out something that most people may not realize. Since 1998, there has been no trend in world temperatures, neither up nor down, in spite of population growth, greater resource use, and lots of carbon dioxide production. True, 1998, was the warmest year on record, and we are still in a warm period, but world temperatures are no higher than when today’s college seniors began middle school. The likelihood of the catastrophic effects that gave Al Gore a Nobel Peace Prize is weak.

“The crisis that concerns me stems from the way that scientists are addressing the issue. Ever since 1988, when James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, alerted a congressional committee to global warming, climate change has been a political issue.

”Methods and standards that have stood the test of time since the Enlightenment have been shunted aside in order to promote a political objective. Climate experts are no longer expected to create hypotheses and test them but to assume that global warming threatens the planet and to use their expertise to justify this claim. Scientists who question aspects of the orthodoxy have been silenced or fired.”

LIAR LOANS

President Obama continues to insist that only ‘responsible families’ will benefit from his foreclosure prevention program,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

”Addressing Congress last week, Mr. Obama said his plan ‘won’t help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford.’ Sorry, Mr. President. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that your plan is going to help tens of thousands of borrowers who put the ‘liar’ into liar loans,” the newspaper said.

“Just listen to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair. In Congressional testimony last week, Mr. Bernanke compared many troubled borrowers to people who accidentally start fires by smoking in bed. For her part, Ms. Bair told public radio that it would be ‘simply impractical’ to review old mortgage applications and try to distinguish between honest and dishonest borrowers. All of this moved the Associated Press to report that the president’s ‘assurance Tuesday night that only the deserving will get help rang hollow.’ …

“But let’s assume for the moment that most of the program’s beneficiaries did tell the truth. Does that make them “responsible,” as Mr. Obama says? Many borrowers are underwater, owing more on the mortgage than their home is worth. Declining home prices are of course a big reason. The other big reason is that many of them traded home equity for cash, in some cases several times, while taking on larger mortgages.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]


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