E.J. point out that
Barack Obama senses that he's in the middle of a hurricane whose gale-force winds could blow history his way.
More striking was his sense that fate has handed him opportunities few presidents ever get, and that his test will be whether he makes good use of his chance to bend history at one of its "inflection points."
"Leadership at those moments can help determine which direction that wave of change goes," he said. "I think it's very hard ... for any single individual or politician to unleash historical momentum on its own. But I think when that historical wave is there, I think you can help guide it."
Asked if this were one of those moments, he replied, flatly, "yes." That may make the situation "scary sometimes," but it should also "make people determined and excited." Maybe that explains his good mood.
The only question is where he wants to lead or "bend history." If it's his liberal vision, it will mean loss of freedom, both personal and economic. A nation saddled with incredible debt, health care rationing, and abortion and homosexuality more deeply embedded in our social fabric. No one can say President Obama has gotten us into this mess. The only question is whether he will only more deeply embed us in the mess we've been moving towards.
Obama is devoted to "FDR-style pragmatism."
The problem with this devotion to FDR's pragmatism is it led to a lengthening of the 1930s depression by a number of years. FDR wasted a lot of money on a lot of government programs which didn't work. In Obama's case he has already driven through a stimulus package which by all accounts won't provide much stimulus for the economy and when it does it will be years out. What it most certainly will do is expand our nation's debt load dramatically.
"Yet Obama's purpose on Friday was not to play at being a philosopher of history, but to stress his devotion to FDR-style pragmatism. "We will do what works," he said, reprising his administration's theme song. That "will require re-evaluation" and "some experimentation -- if that doesn't work then you do something else."
What clearly didn't work well was Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's effort last week to lay out the administration's bank rescue plan. Obama offered no apologies. He argued that Geithner will keep working on an approach "over the next weeks, months, probably through the end of the year" because there is no "painless, quick fix here."
Obama at the same time says he wants to chip away at our enormous long term budget deficit.
There are many such balancing acts in Obama's world. He knows he has to spend a lot of money now, but insists he wants to "chip away at our enormous long-term budget deficit." He wants to get the "ball rolling" on health care reform because, while it "may cost money on the front end," it can "save enormous money on the back end."
How can he possibly reduce our debt load without cutting government spending? Is he willing to give up universal health care? Is he willing to cut back social security benefits? Cut back defense spending at a time when the world is becoming increasingly more dangerous and he's about to embark on a build up of troops in Afghanistan which has all the earmarks of a long term, protracted conflict. He may actually believe his rhetoric that he wants to cut our deficit, but his liberal vision for more government makes that an impossibility. (Unless he thinks he can raise taxes astronomically which will only further harm the economy.)