Quote of the day--can we rewind the tape and get a do-over edition

>> Tuesday, April 05, 2011

...the times required a synthesis of John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier in domestic policy and Dwight Eisenhower’s New Look in foreign policy. Unfortunately, President Obama has provided the exact opposite, combining the domestic policy of Eisenhower with the foreign policy of Kennedy.

-Michael Lind, "Bad influences: JFK, Ike and Obama,"
Salon, April 5th, 2011.


I mean, yeah, that pretty much settles the scorecard so far, or comes as close as you can without losing the pithiness of it. JFK is an overrated President and Eisenhower is underrated, and the reasons for both those things go to the points Lind makes: Kennedy gets too much of a pass for his domestic strengths and Ike rarely gets enough credit for his savvy and often effective foreign policy. Of course (as Lind also notes), what the times have really called for is an FDR, but fat chance of that in an era where a President is labeled a socialist for embracing and pursuing Nixonian domestic policies. (I can't help imagining Helen Gahagan Douglas would be getting a good laugh out of that, were she still around somewhere.)

Of course, let's also put this (valid) criticism into perspective: if President Obama seems to be emulating some of the worst traits of two of the 20th Century's better presidents, at least he's emulating some of the worst traits of two of the 20th Century's better presidents. One could actually do worse than following Eisenhower's domestic footsteps, which is, in fact, what the present Republican leadership seems intent on doing. Ditto when it comes to JFK's spy-versus-spy aggressive interventionism. Obama is at least using playbooks written by smart presidents who tended to surround themselves with technocrats, and not the Tijuana bibles of demagogues who surrounded themselves with drooling bootlickers and howling ignoramuses. Point to Obama, then, even if it's kind of like scoring by the opposing team's forfeit.





2 comments:

John the Scientist Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 3:03:00 PM EDT  

Dude, some Nixonian economic policies were socialist, if not Communist. Price controls, WTF? How well has that worked for affordable housing in NYC?

Not that Nixon was a socialist, it's just that statists of whatever stripe have a limited toolkit.

Eric Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 4:15:00 PM EDT  

Careful, John. Nixon hears you say that, he'll return from the dead, and you don't want to be on Zombie Nixon's Enemies List. No, you really don't.

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