24 February 2009

Frum on Obama's Socialism

David Frum offers a voice of reason in response to a "senior Republican's" email that decries "President Obama's 'march to socialism.'" Frum concedes that his GOP colleagues might find confirmation of such fears in all the talk of nationalizing some of the major banks, but, he asserts:
A federal bank takeover is a bad thing obviously. I wonder though if we conservatives understand clearly enough why it is a bad thing. It’s not because we are living through an enactment of the early chapters of Atlas Shrugged. It’s because the banks are collapsing. Obama, Pelosi, et al are big-spending, high-taxing liberals. They are not socialists. They are no more eager to own these banks than the first President Bush was to own the savings and loan industry – in both cases, federal ownership was a final recourse after a terrible failure. And it was on our watch, not Obama’s, that this failure began. Our refusal to take notice of this obvious fact may excite the Republican faithful. But it is doing tremendous damage to our ability to respond effectively to the crisis.
Reaching for the knee-jerk, cliche-ridden expressions of outrage doesn't help; it merely reinforces the ideological wall between parties. Of course, politicians on both sides of the aisle would find it more constructive to examine their party's role in our economic crisis (doesn't the party that held the Congressional reins from the early 1990s until January 2007 bear some responsibility?), map out how we got to this point, and then help to remedy our national crisis, but such examination would require acknowledging that mistakes have been made, and that to progress, we must adapt and change rather than continue applying old policies to new problems. But that would mean dissolving that wall of ideology--at least partially-- and then what would these folks base their campaigns on in 2010? Is politics truly nothing more than tribalism now?

Added: In an interview with The Washington Times, Jon Huntsman, Republican governor of Utah, has some choice words about the GOP's "gratuitous partisanship" in lieu of ideas:
[Hunstman] said his party is blighted by leaders in Congress whose lack of new ideas renders them so "inconsequential" that he doesn't even bother to talk to them.

[and on fiscal responsibility:]

"Our moral soapbox was completely taken away from us because of our behavior in the last few years. For us to now criticize analogous behavior is hypocrisy. We've got to come at it a different way. We've got to prove the point. It can't be as the Chinese would say, 'fei hua,' [or] empty words."

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