Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Obama the "pragmatic conservative"

The last "pragmatic conservative" president of the USA
(whose mother also came from Kansas)

“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” Thus wrote the Sicilian writer Giuseppe di Lampedusa, in The Leopard. This seems to me the guiding principle of the Obama presidency. To me, he is a pragmatic conservative, albeit one responding to extraordinary times. Martin Wolf - Financial Times
David Seaton's News Links
If you grew up during the Cold War you probably miss its paranoiac stability. Living on the edge of the atomic abyss, in the shadow of Armageddon, our world was simple and prosperous.

Checks appeared magically in American Express offices around the world as we, the young, free and furry hitchhiked fearlessly around countries which are today's "failed states".

AIDS and strange forms of hepatitis hadn't yet come into existence and as Pedro Almodovar once said, "in those days all love could give you was a broken heart". Alas.

Who would have predicted when the wall fell what a dystopia was awaiting us only twenty years later.

What makes our world so difficult to read today is that it is one of transition. We are going from somewhere familiar to somewhere unknown.

Since the late 1980s that stable Cold War world has been slowly falling apart. The left had its world crash around its ears in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin wall.

Now it's the right's turn.

It is a tribute to the powerful inertia of that era, to its paranoiac stability, that it is only now, with this global economic crisis in full swing, when we are finally fully conscious that the world we knew is all gone, never to return: that all its hoary paradigms are so much un-recyclable mind trash: that Reagan and Thatcher are both as dead as Brezhnev and Gorbachev.

No matter how brilliant Barack Obama is or will be, it will be nearly impossible for him to be as transformational as George W. Bush was. The people who pulled Bush's strings were truly radical, they wanted to transform the world, turn it inside out. They did... just not the way they wanted to... or... who knows?

Obama on the other hand, as the Financial Times' chief economist, Martin Wolf points out, is a not a radical, he is a "pragmatic conservative". He wants to change things so that they "stay the same".

Right now on his performance, s
ince being elected, he reminds me (laugh all you want) of Eisenhower. The same idea of now everything is going to be alright because there is a grown up in charge.

Since Barack Obama is, in fact, very intelligent, (so was Eisenhower for that matter) he may discover that this won't be enough... before it is too late. DS


Anonymous said...

Ike is the most under-rated president in American hstory. I always felt that he did what he believed was in the best interest of the United States, not what best for the United States. I doubt if I will ever see a another Eisenhower in my lifetime. The modern US presidential election is centered upon emotional provoking gommicks and very weak political parties. All in all, it is not the type of method necessary to elect a competent president but just one that is glib enough for the cameras and quick enough for a memorable one-liner. Welcome to America!

Danny L. McDaniel
Lafayette, Indiana

oldfatherwilliam said...

I'm thinking you'd be much more qualified than I to list the reasons it's probably already too late, and by at least eight, perhaps sixteen years.

bailey alexander said...

Ike prosecuted at Nuremburg when it wasn't popular, and he had principles, now these guys have agendas, but i see your point...

bailey alexander said...

I'm beginning to wonder if Obama can only manage and not govern. Like a high paid consultant with an agenda, when the scope of the project becomes fluid, he simply lacks the creativity to fix the inherent issues.

Also, not sure if you're reading Der Spiegel these days, but they're suggesting the Germans will take action against inhumane torture if the world doesn't take the Spanish seriously enough.

forensic economist said...

I'll give you another pragmatic conservative to compare Obama to - Bush the first. Remember, GHWB declared that supply side economics was voodoo, and his first act as President was to clean up the savings and loan mess by having the insurance fund (FSLIC then) recapitalized so it could liquidate S&Ls. Under Reagan, the FSLIC head denied there was a problem. Bush 1 invaded Iraq, then stopped, probably motivated by regional balance of power considerations, not to mention knowing the extreme problems an occupation would bring.

So Obama is similar: conservative policies, competently done. But the problems are far larger now - will it be enough?

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Good comment on Bush-I.
From a geopolitical point of view Clinton's election was a tragedy, Bush-I would have handled all of it better than Bubba: Russia, ME, all of it.