Brooks and Buckley Experience Buyers’ Remorse
2008 Election, Barack Obama, Chris Buckley, Christopher Buckley, David Brooks, Turncoat Conservative Pundits
Jennifer Rubin observes how quickly Barack Obama has persuaded last autumn’s conservative turncoats to reconsider their wardrobes.
Itâ€™s not quite LBJ losing Walter Cronkite on the Vietnam War, but the president has lost David Brooks.
Well, well. First Chris Buckley and now Brooks. Usually it takes more than a month for presidents to disappoint those they have bamboozled during the campaign. But, as Brooks points out, Obama threw caution to the winds when he unveiled his monstrous budget.
[The] Obama budget is more than just the sum of its parts. There is, entailed in it, a promiscuous unwillingness to set priorities and accept trade-offs. There is evidence of a party swept up in its own revolutionary fervor â€” caught up in the self-flattering belief that history has called upon it to solve all problems at once.
So programs are piled on top of each other and we wind up with a gargantuan $3.6 trillion budget. We end up with deficits that, when considered realistically, are $1 trillion a year and stretch as far as the eye can see. We end up with an agenda that is unexceptional in its parts but that, when taken as a whole, represents a social-engineering experiment that is entirely new.
The U.S. has never been a society riven by class resentment. Yet the Obama budget is predicated on a class divide. The president issued a read-my-lips pledge that no new burdens will fall on 95 percent of the American people. All the costs will be borne by the rich and all benefits redistributed downward. …
Those of us who consider ourselves moderates â€” moderate-conservative, in my case â€” are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was. His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice. As Clive Crook, an Obama admirer, wrote in The Financial Times, the Obama budget â€œcontains 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 liberalâ€™s dream of a new New Deal.â€
Hold onâ€”thereâ€™s a typo in that paragraph. â€œ$3.6 trillion budgetâ€ canâ€™t be right.The entire national debt isâ€”whatâ€”about $11 trillion? He canâ€™t actually be proposing to spend nearly one-third of that in one year, surely. Let me check. Hmm. He did. The Wall Street Journal notes that federal outlays in fiscal 2009 will rise to almost 30 percent of the gross national product. In language that even an innumerate English major such as myself can understand: The US government is now spending annually about one-third of what the entire US economy produces. As George Will would say, â€œWell.â€
Now let me say: Unlike Rush Limbaugh, I want President Obama to succeed. I honestly do. We are all in this leaky boat togetherâ€”did I say â€œleakyâ€? I meant â€œsieve-likeâ€â€”and it would be counterproductive, if not downright suicidal, to want it to go down just to prove a conservative critique of Keynesian economics. …
One thing is certain, however: Government is getting bigger and will stay bigger. Just remember the apothegm that a government that is big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away.And remember what de Tocqueville told us about a bureaucracy that grows so profuse that not even the most original mind can penetrate it.
If this is what the American people want, so be it, but they ought to have no illusions about the perils of this approach. Mr. Obama is proposing among everything else $1 trillion in new entitlements, and entitlement programs never go away, or in the oddly poetic bureaucratic jargon, â€œsunset.â€ He is proposing $1.4 trillion in new taxes, an appetite for which was largely was whetted by the shameful excesses of American CEO corporate culture. And finally, he has proposed $5 trillion in new debt, one-half the total accumulated national debt in all US history. All in one fell swoop.
He tells us that all this is going to work because the economy is going to be growing by 3.2 percent a year from now. Do you believe that? Would you take out a loan based on that? And in the three years following, he predicts that our economy will grow by 4 percent a year.
This is nothing if not audacious hope. If heâ€™s right, then looking back, March 2009 will be the dawn of the Age of Stimulation, or whatever elegant phrase Niall Ferguson comes up with. If he turns out to be wrong, then it will look very different, the entrance ramp to the Road to Serfdom, perhaps, and he will reap the whirlwind that follows, along with the rest of us.
Who could possibly have predicted that a red diaper baby community organizer with a life-long record of radical associations would adopt an ultra-left program of taxing and spending? Messrs. Buckley and Brooks obviously weren’t paying attention when they read Dreams from My Father. Obama explains that he learned as an adolescent that he could get away with doing drugs and raising Cain, simply by mollifying the adults in his life by speaking softly and politely.
It was the start of my senior year in high school… and one day she [his mother] marched into my room, wanting to know the details of [his friend’s] arrest. I had given her a reassuring smile and patted her hand and told her not to worry. I wouldn’t do anything stupid. It was usually an effective tactic, one of those tricks I had learned: People were satisfied as long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves. They were more than satisfied; they were relieved — such a pleasant surprise to find a well-mannered young black man who didn’t seem angry all the time.