When the war in Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein began, it was popular, and it had supporters on the left as well as the right. Many Democratic politicians voted for it, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, and Charles Schumer among them. Many liberal pundits also supported the war, when it was popular, like Peter Beinart at The New Republic, and Thomas Friedman at the New York Times.
When the war became unpopular, the Democrats were suddenly all against it, had always really been against it, had been duped, and the liberal pundits had a profound, wrenching, change of heart. While we (the U.S.A.) were still engaged, and young men and women were putting their lives on the line, Harry Reid declared that the war which he had initially supported was lost.
President George W. Bush went against popular opinion, and the advice of many of his own advisors, and the recommendations of the generals in the field, and sided instead with General Petreaus, and ordered the surge. Before the surge even began, Senator Barack Obama announced that it would fail.
The war had become very unpopular.
None of this behavior was unusual or unprecedented. Politicians and pundits routinely tack to the prevailing winds. It is part of their job description. The goal, after all, is maximizing votes and readership.
As customers are to businesses, so are voters and readers to politicians and pundits (and bloggers!). As CEOs owe fiduciary allegiance to their shareholders, so do politicans and pundits owe their benefactors and employers. David Brooks became roughly 20% less interesting when he took the job at the New York Times.
Obama was very popular, now not so much. Government takeover of the health care portion of the national economy (one sixth!) was never popular. Now it is even less popular. Government takeover of two of the three domestic automobile companies was never even slightly popular. Handicapping the economy in the name of global warming was never very popular. Now it has been laughed off the agenda entirely.
“Too big to fail” is not popular. Government control of the real estate financial market (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) is not popular. Giving tax breaks to union members is not popular. Giving special deals to individual states in order to buy votes for unpopular legislation is not popular. Dispensing long-sought Democratic pork in the name of “stimulus” is not popular.
The Democrats, in unprecedented control of the White House and both Houses of Congress, have attempted to impose as unpopular and ambitious a transmogrification of the American economy as has ever been seriously contemplated by those in positions of responsibility in the United States.
How about a little bit of imagination? How about a little bit of courage? How about nuclear power, a WPA/CCC jobs program, broadband for all citizens, maybe even tort reform and competition across state lines for health insurance providers? Or something, anything, that wasn’t just a corrupt payoff to special interests, or a cynical attempt to extend the power of those in power.
I was talking about some of this stuff with my son Jason a couple of days ago. He said, “We have a lot to do, and plenty of resources with which to do it, but things just haven’t gotten bad enough yet.” I think that is exactly right.