In recent days I’ve been struck by the overwhelming nature of the problems that face us, and the utterly bankrupt nature of the conservative response. Because the more mindless of those responses drives me crazy, I will instead present the rational but wrong David Brooks, who writes today:
Readers of this column know that I am a great admirer of Barack Obama and those around him. And yet the gap between my epistemological modesty and their liberal worldviews has been evident over the past few weeks. The people in the administration are surrounded by a galaxy of unknowns, and yet they see this economic crisis as an opportunity to expand their reach, to take bigger risks and, as Obama said on Saturday, to tackle every major problem at once.
I think Brooks is fundamentally mistaken in his assessment of what the Obama administration would like to do. Everything we know about President Obama tells us that he is an exceedingly cautious politician — a mainstream liberal, not a creature of the far left, who, given his choice, would have liked to proceed deliberately.
He can’t. Not with the economy falling apart, the auto industry careening toward bankruptcy, the financial system in meltdown and housing as dead as it’s been in decades. (Let’s not forget, too, he’s also dealing with war and terrorism on multiple fronts.) Finally, as Obama argued during the campaign, a lot of what ails us economically can’t be fixed without finally doing something about health care.
In the midst of all this, it is striking that the Republicans have nothing to say. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who will deliver the Republican response to Obama’s address to Congress tonight, is getting a weird amount of attention for rejecting about $90 million in federal unemployment assistance — while eagerly grabbing $4 billion in stimulus money.
I don’t know if you caught Jindal on “Meet the Press” Sunday, but he came across as Sarah Palin with better syntax: plenty of pre-rehearsed soundbites, but little or no ability to answer moderator David Gregory’s simple questions.
It’s no wonder that Obama’s job-approval rating is so much higher than that of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton at a similar early stage of their presidencies.