By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Broder’s disturbing advice to Obama

I realize Washington Post columnist David Broder’s expiration date came and went some time ago. But suggesting that President Obama prepare for war with Iran in order to boost his re-election prospects is surely a new low.

“I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected,” Broder writes. Good lord, what is it he thinks he’s doing?


Jon Keller is still at large


Election Night in Danvers


  1. Steve Stein

    “Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.”

    So Broder is proposing a WWII-size war effort as a cure for the economy? I think that’s more insane than proposing it will spur Obama’s re-election chances.

  2. Mike Benedict

    Could we really spend MORE than we already do on military efforts?

  3. Steve Stein

    @Mike: WW2 defense spending was about 1/3 of GDP from 1943-1945. GDP now is about $14T so a comparable amount of defense spending would be $4.2T, or about 7 times what it is now (about $600B).

    So, I think the answer is “yes”.

  4. Sean Griffin

    Broder’s advice would be more credible if he had also suggested a military buildup to fight robot zombies from the Moon.

  5. Mike Benedict

    @Steve: While measuring defense spend by GDP is one metric, it’s not the one I had in mind.

    I think a better metric would be the ratio of defense spend to the deficit. The (former) USSR would be a good cautionary tale.

  6. L.K. Collins

    Mikey, I don’t think Steve Stein said it was wise, only that it is possible…which directly answers the question you posed.

  7. Aaron Read

    Broder’s advice makes a lot of sense, actually. In an insane way, of course, but wartime presidents are rarely not re-elected…

  8. Laurence Glavin

    If Senator McCain and Carrie’s Mom had been elected, I suspect we’d have armed forces in Iran already.

  9. Sean Griffin

    People used to retire. Joe Alsop quit when he was 64. Lived another 15 years. Do you think anyone would’ve cared what Alsop had to say in 1991?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Sean: No, but Alsop was bullying LBJ into Vietnam in 1963 and ’64.

  10. Mike Rice

    If the intent is to extinguish the beady eyed nut-job Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, I say let Israel have a shot at the title. War? Now we’re talkin’. What a screwed up mess – mankind.

  11. Steve Stein

    You’re right, LK, I wasn’t advocating it. But it does give one an idea of the kind of stimulus that was necessary to lift the country (and the world) out of the Great Depression.

    Imagine the kind of recovery that we could have if we spent half that amount – $2.1T instead of the less than $800B on the stimulus. If we put people to work building stuff that we’d just have other people blow up, essentially producing nothing, but putting money and employment into a lot of people’s lives. Yes, it would leave us with lots of debt, but it would sure get the economy moving.

    Heck, nowadays we could build things and NOT blow them up – how about if we repair some old infrastructure and build up some new power and transportation systems that used a whole lot less oil (because oil is going to get EXPENSIVE). Maybe we could do that.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Steve: Krugman said repeatedly that $1.3T would have done the trick. Anything less than that, he warned, and we would likely start sliding back as soon as the money was spent. Looking pretty prescient.

  12. Mike Benedict

    @Steve: Seems someone is trying to explain something to us. Unfortunately, he’s just confusing himself.

  13. BP Myers

    @Sean Griffin said: People used to retire. Joe Alsop quit when he was 64. Lived another 15 years. Do you think anyone would’ve cared what Alsop had to say in 1991?

    Or Helen Thomas in 2010.

    Awesome comment.

  14. Steve Stein

    @Dan – Yes, and Romer wanted $1.2B but didn’t have the guts to push for it. Prescient maybe – we’ll never know if it would have been enough. Certainly bumping along in the “moral equivalent of stagflation” won’t win much sympathy for the President and his economic team.

  15. Christian Avard

    Sounds like Broder needs a refresher course in Keynesian economics. Government spending gets nations out of recessions and depressions. They’re a heckuva lot better than wars.

    Broder’s article was just as baffling as NBC’s Chuck Todd’s question at Obama’s first presser “But isn’t consumer spending what got us into [the economic downturn] in the first place?”

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