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Friday, February 26, 2010

Does either party have a political cure for the maladies that afflict America? (How about conservatives tapping into the ocean-swell of populism?)

Obama’s Problems — And Ours
(The American Conservative) -- by Patrick J. Buchanan --

We inherited the worst situation since the Great Depression.

That is the reflexive response of President Obama to the troubles from which he has been unable to extract his country.

Even before the inauguration, he says, there were projections of a $1.2 trillion deficit for 2009. That deficit is not my deficit.

Presidents are usually blamed for deficits run while they are in office. But, in fact, presidents do not write budgets. Congress does. Presidents sign them. And the mammoth deficits of 2008 and 2009 came from budgets approved by a Congress run by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Did Sen. Barack Obama vote against those budgets?...

First is the debt crisis. Federal revenues are running at 16 percent of gross domestic product, spending at 27 percent. Wednesday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that a Greece-like situation, where creditors refuse to buy U.S. debt unless we raise interest rates to cover the rising risks of a U.S. default, cannot be ruled out.

Yet there is no credible plan to get these deficits under control when the economy starts to recover. And this week came news that consumer confidence has plunged to a 25-year low and housing starts have plummeted to the lowest level in 50 years...

Second is the war situation. Where Gen. Tommy Franks’ Army occupied Iraq in three weeks, Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s will require a month to pacify Marjah, a town of 80,000 in a nation of 28 million.

U.S. casualties are rising in Afghanistan even as Iraq’s elections, which are to lead to a U.S. withdrawal, appear to be moving that country back toward a Sunni-Shia and Arab-Kurd sectarian and civil war.

Meanwhile, pressure on the president is mounting for “crippling” sanctions on Iran that could lead to a third U.S. war against a nation with a population larger than Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

A third crisis is political: the perception that President Obama is a weak leader who cannot even impose his will on a Congress where Democrats had, until January, a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a near 80-vote margin in the House.

Abroad, America is being defied by Japan on bases, by Israel on settlements, by China and Russia on U.N. sanctions, and by Venezuela and its compadres on everything. Dictatorships and democracies alike seem to be dismissive of American leadership.

While Democrats are despondent, facing almost certain defeat in the fall, Republicans seem united only on what they are against: Obama and Obamacare, cap-and-trade, civil trials for terrorists, socialism.

Perhaps that is enough for November.

But in 2012, the party of Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul will have to tell the country how it proposes to end these wars without losing them, how to bring manufacturing back and how to cut spending by $1 trillion a year, if taxes are off the table.

That Republicans failed under George W. Bush few Republicans today deny. That Obama and his White House are failing today few Democrats will privately deny.

The question raised by the successive failures is whether either party has a cure for the maladies that afflict America. Or are those maladies beyond the power of politics to heal?...MORE...LINK

Chris Moore comments:

The GOP is facing the same conundrum as President Obama, but vis-à-vis a fracture on the Right. Whereas the Dems are split between their pro-war, pro-globalization neoliberal wing (e.g. the Thomas Friedman postion) and the ostensibly anti-war, anti-globalization socialists, the Right is fractured upon the Wall Street Bushcon/Neocon wing (which is also pro-war and globalizationist), and the Main Street small business, and blue collar, Reagan Democrat wing, which has been manipulated into voting against its own interests by supporting “patriotic” Empire, which in reality is just a massive wealth transfer to Washington-connected elites and their cronies.

It seems to me the Neocons and Neoliberals have captured the elite, globalizationist “center” by controlling the media, and the capitals of Empire and elite opinion in Washington and Wall Street. The irony is that the globalizationists are not centrist at all, but rather extremely greedy, warmongering and radical, and more interested in feathering their own nests and pursuing their own self-serving pet agendas than pursuing what’s best for the country in the long run. Far from creating American jobs, globalizationism is killing them, and fast.

But they’ve managed to create this illusion that those who oppose them are the “extremists.”

As I see it, the best way of countering this is for conservatives and libertarians in the Ron Paul vein to tap further into the populist movement by running against globalizationism and elitism, and portraying the Neocons/Neoliberals as the unpatriotic internationalists and the out-of-touch elitists that they are.

This will have stronger appeal on the conservative-leaning right, but will also tap into the anti-war, anti-Empire, anti-Wall Street impulse on the Left, and into the deep reservoir of blue collar and workaday pink collar Reagan Democrats.

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