[Posted by Karl]
The Times of London runs Excitable Andy’s apologia for the Obama Administration’s shaky start. Sullivan tries to buy himself some cred with this assessment:
[T]here’s a case for feeling that Obama is floundering. He has yet to solve the banking crisis, his Treasury is horrifyingly understaffed and he somehow allowed a bunch of incompetents and thieves at AIG to walk off with massive bonuses under his nose. His stimulus package was too controlled by the Democrats in Congress and is too spread out into 2010 to have a big impact now, when it’s most needed. He is trying to take on too many things at once – from climate change and healthcare reform to engaging Iran and reforming Pakistan. The aura of his campaign has waned as the poetry of insurgency has segued into the deadly and often ungrammatical prose of government. He seemingly still can’t speak without a teleprompter.
However, to avoid the obvious conclusions, Sullivan lurches back into his fantasy world:
On Iraq, Obama has essentially given the neocons everything they want except an eternal occupation. By back-loading troop withdrawals until 2010, Obama also keeps his hand strong in the poker game with Iran. His swift return of the US to the Geneva conventions, and disavowal of the dictatorial presidency favoured by Bush and his vice-president, Dick Cheney, are also clear signals, even as he waits for internal reviews on the more excruciating questions of detention and rendition.
He is right, I think, to keep climate change and healthcare reform on his first-year agenda because the real-world challenges they pose cannot be deferred for much longer. His biggest error, I think, has been a failure to show how he will cut spending on Medicare, the government-run health insurer, and other benefits, even as his aides insist in private that they understand the problem.
Obama’s position on Iraq was one of the primary reasons Sullivan gave for supporting Obama in the first place, but it apparently does not matter now. Sullivan also ignores Obama’s actual record on war issues:
[H]is Justice Department has been quietly pressing forward with some of the more controversial policies of the previous administration.
We’re talking about lawsuits over torture, warrantless wiretapping, state secrets and policies of extraordinary executive powers that allow the president to indefinitely detain suspected terror supporters abroad — and even here on U.S. soil.
Even Internet sock-puppeteer Glenn Greenwald has this figured out. Sullivan is still in denial.
Denial is what should be expected from someone who fancies himself a conservative, yet writes about the “beguiling” idea of a sudden government takeover of several big banks. It is the sort of disconnect from reality evident in someone who thinks universal healthcare ought to be on the front burner in the same paragraph as he recognizes the need to cut spending on the government-run health insurer. It is the disconnect evident in thinking that Obama is playing a poker game with Iran.
One thing Sullivan gets right is that if the economy is recovering by 2011, Obama’s political prospects will look pretty good. However, that will not help Congressional Democrats facing voters in 2010; they need a better economy sooner, not later. They will run over Obama if they think that is what they need to do for that timeframe. That is the biggest threat to the Leftist agenda the Conservative of Doubt admits is “too much, too soon” — but supports anyway.