No surprise. David Brooks has taken his lumps today, from both ends of the political spectrum. On the left, Steve Benen labels Brooks current opining a “very frustrating column.” On the right, Allahpundit gives Brooks clinched props before scolding him “for not realizing sooner … that ‘Barack Obama is not who we thought he was.'”
I feel your pain, Mr. B. One right-leaning commenter on my comment about your commentary lumped me in with other “moderates having buyers’ remorse as they realize they helped elect a far left liberal to oversee the worst economy in decades.”
In turn, a left-leaning commenter wagged his finger at my disdain for the deficit-heavy Obama budget and my prediction of a 2010 Republican majority in the Senate:
“What Republicans are out there to be put in office who have a realistic take on what’s happening now? Do you dismiss out of hand the Obama administrations proposals to reduce the deficit in the long run?”
David Brooks might not feel compelled to respond to his critics. I do.
Thus, with the aforementioned right-leaning commenter, let me be very clear: I feel no remorse whatsoever about voting for Obama. In fact, even knowing what I know now, if I were asked to vote again today — in some weird, Californiaesque, Presidential recall election — I’d punch the same button I did on Nov. 4. A month prior to that vote, I knew what I was doing:
I think many of Obama’s policies tend to the super-sizing of government, which is almost always accompanied by profligate, wasteful spending and heavy-handed taxation.
But I voted for Obama anwyay, because:
Even if I question some of (his) policies, even if my vote helps turn over the White House and both chambers of Congress to a political party with which I frequently disagree, I still want a President who is studied and cautious and diplomatic — and of the candidates most likely to be President on Nov. 5, I find Sen. Obama to be the more-studied and cautious and diplomatic of the two. Period.
I still feel that way.
With respect to the aforementioned left-leaning commenter, let me take his two shots one at a time.
First: “What Republicans are out there to be put in office who have a realistic take on what’s happening now?”
Response: There are a few; Specter, Collins, Snowe, and Crist come to mind. But that’s not the point. The point is that, while the President and his team have many good ideas, the best teams are never those who get everything they want. The best teams are those who are forced to refine and sharpen and improve their ideas; to contend with a counterweight or regulator, someone or something to check their more wreckless tendencies. The R’s failed to be that regulator for GWB. The D’s are now signaling their inclination to achieve similar failure with BHO. Thus, good ideas or not, the R’s will have to play the balancing role with Obama — and I think Obama will be a better president for it.
Second: “Do you dismiss out of hand the Obama administration’s proposals to reduce the deficit in the long run?”
Response: No, I don’t dismiss them out of hand. But I do question their oddly optimistic GDP projections for 2010 and beyond, and I cannot accept as “deficit reduction” a forecast that assumes massive, year-over-year deficits through 2019. Per the NYT depiction of the OMB analysis, BHO will make GWB look like the fiscal conservative he was not. Moreover, Obama’s goal should not be to reduce deficits from his own high-water mark, but to meet or beat the line separating deficit from surplis, much as the last Democratic President with a Republican Congress did.
And now, I feel much better. May Mr. Brooks enjoy the same peace.