Is Carter A Best Case Scenario?
Published on: June 14, 2011
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  • David Billington

    An article in Harper’s Magazine anticipated your observations in July 2009:

    I hope the Obama administration doesn’t end this way. But it is hard to see how the present condition of the country can improve in the short run, if the recent McKinsey report is correct about the structural problems of the economy.

  • davelnaf

    This is a polite article about Obama’s problem(s) and ours in having him as president. To say that he has learned next to nothing in the last two and half years is putting it very politely indeed. But how else could a person with the wherewithal to become president be otherwise as he tries to carry on with his transformational agenda after the shellacking his party took in November? And if Obama gets a second term is there a doubt in anyone’s mind that it’s going to be Transformational Agenda Part II? The horrors of TA II would transform the country, all right, although not in the way Obama and his minions imagine.

    As for comparing Obama to Hoover: Hoover at least had experience with the real world. Throughout Obama’s life various people and academic institutions have pampered him into incompetence in handling the real job of president. And as clueless as Hoover was about the worsening economic situation of his times he had the sense not to try to socialize the country. Comparing Obama to Hoover is an insult to Hoover.

  • Engineer

    It’s not a leap for administration critics to look at Obamacare as a blunder as great as the Smoot-Hawley tarriff. Protecting the economy from rigorous competition is as faulty to those on the right as putting what amounts to a command and control mechanism in charge of the national health care system.

    Coolidge would sometimes refer to Hoover as “Wonder Boy” and given the uncritical adulation accorded Barack Obama by so many, the comparison is unjust only to the extent that Hoover’s pre-presidential accomplishments put the 44th president to shame. At least Carter eventually earned his Nobel by most notably brokering the Egyptian/Israeli peace deal. Obama won his for not being George W. Bush. It would have been as though Carter won the Nobel in 1977 for not being Richard Nixon.

    I share Dr. Mead’s desire that we should not suffer through the consequence of “18 more months of Presidential subsidence”, but just as Hoover did what he thought was right (and proved utterly ineffective), I suspect that President Obama is doing what he believes to be right. But just as surely the President is proving to be utterly ineffective in restoring dynamic growth.

    That leads to 2012 becoming a referendum on whether the President should get credit for preventing an even worse economic catastrophe or the blame for presiding over an array of policies that have created what is arguably the weakest recovery since WW2. The GOP and Democrats know their mind on that topic. The independents are likely, as so often, to hold the balance on that question.

  • Biggles

    Hoover’s progressive ideas had nothing to do with his failure in bringing about a recovery. When the banks were allowed to fail, they took with them about a third of nation’s savings (there was no FDIC). Absolutely nothing was going to turn that ship around anytime soon. Of course Hoover’s problem was that he believed that the markets themselves would self-correct. His belief in the power of markets at the time was misplaced because they had been damaged beyond repair. Only a huge Keynesian push by FDR’s policies and then WW2 got us back on track.

  • graff

    We have witnessed many times the elite progressives ideology run amuck, this time is no different. One can only hope that it will finally be cast aside for good. We as a country can do better, we must do better , the Constitution should be our guide, not just a piece of parchment from our past. America can and will be great again, if we the people take a stand.

  • valwayne

    Obama is totally trapped and a creature of his extreme left wing ideology. He easily could have followed Reagan’s successful example and restored prosperity, but Obama doesn’t trust the American people. He only trusts the left wing Elites he brought with him to power, and the Government. So he’s done everything wrong. He engaged in the the most massive growth in the size and cost of government outside of a World War, and he has borrowed more money and engaged in more corrupt wasted spending than anybody in the history of the world. And its all failed. Obama did everything wrong and he’s made everything worse. Now he talks about pivoting to jobs, for the upteenth time, but he doesn’t have a clue. Obama has easily overtaken Jimmy Carter as the worst President of the last 100 years. Its time to change leadership and get back to putting the nation back on the right track!

  • Karl

    Hoover did try many progressive programs to put people back to work, including the Hoover Dam and many of the bridges along highway 1 in California. However, he did these programs within the context of trying to balance the budget. On that note he was somewhat successful, as we had surpluses in 1929 and 1930 and only a small deficit in 1931. It was not until 1932 that we had a significant deficit.

    Likewise, Roosevelt was too worried about deficits before we had everyone back to work, leading to a relatively slow recovery and the double dip after trying to balance the budget prematurely in 1937-38.

    Of course, that is the prescription offered by today’s Republicans. Cut spending now. Just don’t be surprised if the recovery slows or turns into a double dip recession.

  • M. T. Nolan

    And if the President is re-elected, remember that starting with George Washington, no second term has ever been more successful than the first. The most embarrassing failures of every two-term President have always occurred after re-election.

  • EJM

    Thanks for the history brush-up on Herbert Hoover, Prof. Mead. That Hoover was a good and intelligent man is often forgotten, but that he was a progressive has been nearly buried completely by a half century or more of the democratic party tying Hoover to the Depression as Mr. Republican. Hoover initiated several facets of the New Deal before FDR, and his “stimulus” didn’t work any better than Obama’s, as you recount in your article. After 80 years of Keynesian policies failing to produce the “expected” results of our wise and benevolent central planners, could it be time to question this mainstay of statist thinking?

    As for the comparison to Obama, I would like to remind you that there are a lot of us who never drank of the Hope & Change kool-aid. We watched with a mixture of anguish and amazement that so many of our fellow citizens could abandon their senses to vote for a man with zero executive experience, no significant legislative achievements in his brief career, no discernable trail of constitutional scholarship (his supposed specialty) and a murky background with questionable associates for the highest office in the land. Unlike you and most of elites in government, the press, and academe, we actually listened to what candidate Obama said, and found it long on platitudes and pitifully short on substance.

    So, I ask you, why are you surprised that he hasn’t the first clue of what is wrong with the economy and what to do about it? As a student of history, you should know that vanity has been the failing of more than a few of the leaders of the past. Did you not see this man’s overarching vanity? A vanity fed for years by a surrounding entourage of academics, activists and press that treated him as a demi-god destined and anointed for greatness. Can you not see that even now this is what he believes? That what your friends have created is a naked emperor who is so encased in his own delusion that he will never realize he lacks clothing?

    The realization you fervently pray for from Mr. Obama is even less likely than the economic turnaround expected by all the best economists advising him any day now, or indeed that the oceans have stopped their rise on King Canute’s orders (which he was wise enough not to believe in himself).

  • El Gordo

    You kindly praise Obama´s intelligence and good intentions but where does the “poor policy” you mention originate? Perhaps the more salient point is that Obama´s view of the economy is no more advanced that Hoover´s or FDR´s.

    The problem is not that the President has a limited toolkit, it is that he has bad ideas. Luck will not change that. Right now the Democrats are hoping to survive by demagoguing on Social Security. There is your “failure to learn” as well as the answer to your last sentence.

    For two years, Obama got everything he wanted, including the biggest peacetime spending program ever. At some point we must conclude that it is not just the forces of history that are undermining him.

  • FlashHarry

    Any consideration of the current president should begin with an understanding of the fact that he has always concealed virtually the entire paper trail of his existence.

    Quite apart from the issue of any sort of birth certificates, real or imagined, genuine or forged, is the easily verifiable fact that Barack Obama’s school records, SAT and LSAT scores, college and law school admission records and scholarship paperwork and grade transcripts and thesis papers, medical records, passport history, Illinois state senate tenure records and schedules, presidential campaign foreign donor lists, complete White House visitor logs and many other relevant records and documents have all never been released or allowed to be subjected to any sort of scrutiny, despite several years of repeated requests for disclosure by numerous individuals and non-traditional media organizations.

    The Obama 2008 campaign and subsequent administration have to date spent a substantial sum on legal fees, estimated in the millions of dollars, to fight Freedom of Information Act filings and other motions and requests to examine this material. The powerful international law firm Perkins Coie, the counsel of record to the Democratic National Committee, has been their primary provider of these services and continues in that role.

    It had become customary in postwar modern times for presidential candidates to allow for the release and scrutiny of the substantive body of their personal records and credentials, up until 2008 largely because of a strong interest from the mainstream media.

    The appearance of Barack Obama upon the national political stage changed that tradition, and he was given an astonishing special exception from this important unofficial practice that American voters had come to expect.

    In their eagerness to “make history” by helping to elect the first black president, the mainstream media failed in their essential national responsibility to report with thorough impartial objectivity. They ignored their duty to search for the truth and should be regarded with disdain by all people who value information in a free society.

    Barack Obama was presented in 2008 as a brilliant intellectual with stellar Ivy League credentials whose cool low key style would transform the culture of Washington, leading America into a new harmonious postracial era with an administration of great transparency, all while achieving miracles of bipartisan cooperation.

    Hope and Change, remember?

    It has become quite apparent to rational people of all political persuasions how that ridiculously naive wishful fantasy has really played out.

    There exists a widespread and growing international speculation that an objective examination of Barack Obama’s extensive hidden paper trail would clearly reveal that his meteoric rise up the educational and career ladders was largely the result of multiple affirmative action preferences and an adoring uncritical mainstream media, and that his vaunted intellect was greatly exaggerated.

    In short, Barack Obama is just another left-posing big city machine politician, one with more than a touch of narcissism and a proven record of ruthless self-serving dealmaking and deception, who has amply demonstrated his allegiance to powerful corporate and financial interests.

    The past associations, ideological convictions, behavioral influences and ongoing relationships of the man of mystery known as Barack Hussein Obama are matters of concern to a large and growing number of people who just want to be able to understand the truth.

    This is the sort of information about their presidential candidates that American voters believe they have the need, and the right, to know.

    The sort of information that Obama and his handlers are quite determined to continue to keep from them.

  • sligunner

    Obama’s trajectory is steeper, even, than the scenario in your concluding paragraph (Lincoln, Clinton, Carter, Hoover). More like: Carter, Bill Ayres, Jeremiah Wright, Karl Marx.

  • Jerry Machusak

    Is Carter A Best Case Scenario? Wow! I’ve started my day with RCP for years and this piece is extraordinarily good. More, please!

  • dookhh

    He is already saying that his family would be ok if he only served one term. Sounds like their internal polling may already be showing that his chances for re-election are slim, with very little chance for improvement in 18 months. There was only one Bin-laden bounce to be had unless he can find a new Bin-Laden a week, it looks like it’s all downhill from here….

  • Don

    In interesting and well written piece, but I disagree with this: “similarities between these two idealistic and patriotic men”. Obama is not patriotic. He is at best an internationalist who is too happy to sacrifice our interests. He insults our allies (bust of Churchill) and endangers their survival (Israel ’67 borders). He wages war without talking to Congress (Lybia). He loots the treasury to fund his political allies (unions) and confiscate the investments of US Citizens (GM bond holders). Let us all pray, for the sake of this country, that Obama suffers the same political fate as Mr. Hoover.

  • K2K

    Standing ‘history of the American Presidency’ ovation Mr. Mead!
    Except that Hoover had a record of accomplishment before his presidency in addition to famine relief in post-WW1 Europe, especially as Coolidge’s Secretary of Commerce dealing with the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.
    Obama wrote two memoirs and made some speeches. History will not be kind. I am already thinking Andrew Johnson and Buchanan were better presidents than Obama, who has never shown real interest in the economy, and now has no advisors.

    Who will inspire confidence?

    “Attitude reflects leadership, captain” from the film, “Remember the Titans”

  • joanne

    This one man wrecking ball has got to be kicked out in 2012!!!! I USED to vote democrat, but slowly I’ve turned comp[letely around, and see many of the faces I used to worshi; as liars now, and smarny. Obama is an arrogant inept scary character. His thin skin prevents him from ever taking responsibility for ANYTHING!!! People-wake up….God forbid if he does have a chance to conmpletly destroy us.

  • Uncle Jetski

    It still amazes me that it is so hard for people to understand the impact of destroying $8 trillion in wealth has had – not just on the quantity of money, but on its velocity. Simple arithmetic proves that the stimulus was too small.

    That said, it is now too late. The mass layoffs have occurred, and companies have adjusted to the new normal. The only question is when the “next big thing” will come along to drive employment.

    To be sure, it is not clean energy, infrastructure, or even education. From an economic perspective, it was only World War II that brought us out of the recession, not the NRA or the CCC. That was because the government ran 25% deficits (funded by War bonds,) which just about managed to suck up all of our productive capacity (even putting women into the factories.)

    Unfortunately, there is no political will to spend; and there is too much political opportunity (among the Republicans,) to be gained by opposing whatever Obama does. But, should they win in 2012, they will still have the same problem – a shrunken economy and high unemployment.

    Their prescription will be to let the market work, which means that many people will have to take severe pay cuts to obtain an income – a prospect with which I, as a business owner, am okay.

  • hacimo

    This is prophetic. Truth has finally been spoken for all the good it does us. I feel like a passenger on the Titanic. But the main question remains unasked and unanswered. If Obama is cast as Hoover, who plays the role of FDR? Surely not Mitt Romney?

  • Another great posting; please start linking to a printer friendly version though! cheers, RJP

  • gladRocks

    I continued to be amazed by those who say recovery is hampered by worry over deficits and then fail to explain why the unprecedented $1.5 TRILLION deficits we’ve been running has not even produced an average recovery.?

  • Cato Fan

    Sure it was WWII that brought us out of the Depression — all our competitors manufacturing capacity was bombed down to the ground and people got zilch for the war bonds. Unless we are willing to do the same now, raking up new deficits will bring even more misery faster.

  • Coley

    Great article; I really needed the history lesson about Hoover.

    “no second term has ever been more successful than the first”

    Lincoln restored the Union during his second term. That ought to count for something.

  • brooklynjames

    Interesting piece, though it smacks of cherry-picking. Hoover ran a budget surplus in 1930, and his subsequent deficits had more to do with a 52 percent drop in tax revenues than with stimulus spending. Far from disproving Keynesian economics, Hoover’s policies reinforce the basics of Keynesian deficit spending and illustrate how financial crises and bank failures need to be prevented if you want to stop a spiral from turning into a depression.

    Hoover increased spending by small amounts, not remotely large enough to arrest the collapse in GDP. The government didn’t bail out state and local governments, which had to implement austerity measures that counteracted Hoover’s spending increases in 1931 and 1932. Federal spending increased by a billion dollars in 1932, but that was reduced to just $0.26 billion by state and local austerity. Under Roosevelt, total government spending was significantly increased in 1935 and 1936, and these were the only years of strong GDP growth.

    If Obama shares a fault with Hoover, it’s a desire to accommodate dissenting views. Two-thirds of Obama’s stimulus simply went to bail out state and local governments — it was necessary but hardly stimulating. Obama has said he did all that was politically possible, but now he’s talking like a deficit hawk when austerity would be a mistake. Keynesian economics tells us that monetary policy alone will be ineffective in times of severe economic contraction. When the economy is shocked, cheap money and low interest rates just don’t create significant demand. It is not remotely surprising that Hoover’s monetary policy did nothing to counteract the depression.

  • Hugh Manatee

    Here’s the contradiction: If Obama is actually as smart as we’ve all been told, then why is he a socialist?

  • don

    Ah, the irony. The progressive’s response to changed circumstances, the economic financial crisis caused by state incentives to excess leverage, is to regulate away the crass capitalist “social Darwinism” among individuals, ending the war of all against all. Funny how the progressives Great Depression ends in the Darwinian extremes of World War Two, a rather sever form of excess demand and debt destruction.

  • Henry Plantagenet

    Your post is idiotic. Hoover and the Republicans created the Depression and did virtually nothing to resolve it, just like today’s Republicans. Obama has achieved extraordinary things, such as saving 3 million jobs with the stimulus and another million with the auto bailout, all while the GOP has been blocking all efforts to resolve the unemployment problem. Crafting idiotic memes to equate Obama with past presidents we don’t like is logically fallacious and intellectually lazy.

  • Steve851

    This article is an insult to Carter. While Carter and Obama are equally wimpy and devoid of leadership qualities, and both delusionally out of touch with America, Carter actually accomplished something positive– the Camp David Accords. So far, nothing positive from Obama. We are now in the 11th year of absolutely horrible presidents. Such longevity of total crap has never occurred in my 63 years.

  • richard40

    FDR’s policies on dealing with the depression were no better than Hoover’s, he just had better PR. The presidents that really did know how to bring the country out of recession, Wareen G Harding and Calvin coolidge, who quiclky ended a potentially serious recession in 1920, were no longer listened to.
    The repubs paid the price for abandoning free market policies like those of Coolidge, and electing a progressive like Hoover. This allowed the progressive dems to take over our politics for generations, while falsely blaming free market repubs for the depression.

  • Richard Marpet

    “For one thing, luck can never be discounted. Recessions don’t last forever, anymore than booms do, and American capitalism is strong enough to stage a recovery in the face of poor policy.”

    Huh? That is the same mistake the Pres Obama & the Dems make. Economic success isn’t like the weather. Next year the rain will come. It’s like farming. Good practices lead to good results. AND vice versa.

  • Jim,MtnViewCA,USA

    I, for one, think our golfer-in-chief is just AWESOME.

  • JohnMc

    If Spengler over at the Asia Times is right then Obama’s goose is dressed, cooked and nearly consumed. The money that is floating around from the various QE’s is being consumed by the banks, who lacking other avenues are merely buying govt notes. So the government is doing nothing but offering discounted money to Wall Street only to the Bankers give it back with imputed interest payments.

    That is no stimulus and is nothing but a win for the banks.

  • Jack

    Like any journalist commenting on Obama, Mead also comments positively on Obama’s temperament, intelligence, and patriotism:
    “the similarities between these two idealistic and patriotic men begin to emerge”
    “With great intelligence and serious goodwill, both men set about to address the most important issues facing the country and the world”. On what basis do you make those assumptions?

    And yet the theme of Mead’s article is that Obama is committing the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.

    And my question is this: What do we know about Obama? Do we know what courses he took as an undergrad? No. Do we know his SAT scores? No. Do we know his law school grades? No. Is there a trail of scholarly works? No. Is there a trail of legislative accomplishments? No. How did the Chicago Annenberg Challenge work out? It didn’t change a thing.

    I am reminded of Obama’s most recent comments regarding ATMs, as though the things didn’t exist before 2009. But what makes his ATM comment even worse is that we had, according the Bureau of Labor Statistic, more bank tellers in 2006 than we did in 2000. Yet some how, Mead calls Obama intelligent.

  • Dobby

    A Haiku…..

    Obama has failed
    The worst President ever
    Jimmy Carter smiles!

  • Henry Miller

    “…the President can still avoid the great mistake that finally wrecked Hoover: the failure to learn.”

    Mr Obama is far too arrogant to learn from his failures. He’s simply going to convince himself that those failures are the result of sabotage by his opponents and a lack of sufficient faith by his supporters.

  • joe macke

    great need here for diligence in study od the politic of 1928 to 1933. Hoover did not create depression- Roosevelt did not stop bank run. Roosevelt did not bring the US out of depression.
    Democrats in 1928 ran a roman catholic, new york political hack named al smith; not wanting the white house, as depression was in europe and eminent here. In 1935, Europe had a burgeoning economy while USA was redistributing the wealth with the civilian conservation corps, building roads and dams.
    more people out of work in 1938 than in 1933. WWII brought the US out of the depression.

    Obama is doing exactly what he promised in his campaign. Remember him telling ‘joe the plumber’ that “we got to spread the wealth”
    Exactly what he is doing and “fundamentally transforming this nation”

  • Kirk

    This is what happens when a bunch of wide eyed college students team up with what is left of the Democratic party and elect an organizer instead of a leader.

  • Kohl Haas

    Interesting that Obama, not Bush, is compared to Hoover. Bush made many mistakes and the right things he did, he did badly. Obama has done the wrong things well. His one real accomplishment is to make Bush look good.

  • Aaron

    The Hoover analogy doesn’t work for one simple reason the timing of the downturn vs. the election was very different: Hoover was elected in 1928 when the prosperity was at its peak. He lost his re-election in 1932 at the bottom of the depression. It is difficult to imagine any president surviving that circumstance.
    Obama, however, was famously elected in the middle of the crash. The economy bottomed out in March 2009, after 3 months in office not 3 years. Growth, albeit snail’s pace growth, has occurred so far since then. Of course this doesn’t mean Obama will be re-elected, it just means that the experience with Hoover is not relevant to our situation now.

  • Tennwriter

    We need another Coolidge, not another FDR. FDR mangled the Constitution, and slammed us deep into debt.

    What would a nowadays equivalent of FDR accomplish?
    1. 90% tax rates to stifle business growth.
    2. Doubling the size of gov’t.
    3. Going to war with China by invading it.

    Far better a Coolidge.

    According to Paul Johnson there was not that much difference between Hoover and FDR.

  • A. Reasoner

    The capacity for self-delusion and rationalization cannot ever be underestimated, particularly for a narcissist.

    When ideas count, the smarter they are, the dumber they stay.

    “Anybody else” in 2012 will look like a genius.

  • “But luck aside, the President can still avoid the great mistake that finally wrecked Hoover: the failure to learn.”

    But Mr. Mead, Obama has already learned everything he needs to know. Just ask him!

    Seriously, what we must hope for — and I contend that it’s against the odds — is that the current, steadily deepening economic crisis isn’t exactly what Obama and his lieutenants have steered for. Remember Rahm Emanuel’s “Never let a crisis go to waste” rhetoric? How likely is it that Emanuel would have been put in so high a position in the Administration if his boss had found serious fault with that assertion?

  • JLK

    Dr Mead:

    It has been my impression for the last several years that Obama has been laboring under a handicap that Hoover did not have.

    Admittedly my diagnosis is from a distance but watching this President acting and reacting to events I have become convinced he is suffering from Type 2 Clinical Narcissism.

    Since the ability to empathize with others is not part of a Narcissist’s makeup, he/she cannot understand why people disagree with his/her “brilliance”. The result is a tendency to do the same things over and over. Instead of trying a new direction they tend to “double down” on the old.

    So, if my guess is accurate, there is little or no chance he will “learn from his mistakes” and his policies will take new directions.

    So you are correct in assuming that the only thing that will save him is a huge dose of “luck”.

    Clinton had luck (low oil prices a found economy despite the 1990-91 Recession etc) BUT… he also was one of the most brilliant politicians of the era. And a large part of that brilliance was his ability to “read” and empathize with an audience in real time. No such “luck” for the current POTUS.

  • Number Six

    I used to think Carter was Obama’s best case scenario. But now I think Charlie Sheen will be Obama’s likely scenario.

  • AnonymousDog

    Hoover was the product of a “broken home”? That’s trying too hard to stretch the parallels between Hoover and Obama. Hoover’s parents both died relatively young, when Hoover was a pre-teen. I would call that having been orphaned.

  • JimGl

    I think that Hoover truly wanted to help the nation recover. I don’t think that of Obama, I truly believe he wouldn’t mind a virtual collapse where he would ask for “extraordinary powers” and you take it from there.

  • tom swift

    As several readers have already mentioned, Hoover was an accomplished man, a claim only the most hopelessly sycophantic Obama worshipers would make for The Won. But some comparisons may still be apt.

    However, what really burns my biscuits is lines like “independents who elected Obama by deserting the GOP were tired of the drama of the Bush administration”. Pure fantasy. An unfortunate fact of American political life is that we have NO IDEA why voters act the way they do. To be sure, there are people more than willing to sell purported information on the topic, but it’s all snake oil. All we can say with certainty is that Obama was indeed elected. Just WHY remains a mystery. As for the 2012 campaign, we know Obama and his gross deficiencies better now, but we still have the same old electorate which made such a catastrophic blunder in 2008, and as a group they’re probably no smarter now then they were two years ago.

  • Frank Smith

    “Lady Luck” is not responsible for economic growth! Sound policies are!

  • bandit

    Simple arithmetic proves that the stimulus was too small.

    That’s hilarious. They should have wasted more money.

  • kent schmidt

    The new “best and brightest” came into power with their vision squarely focused on remaking America in the socioeconomic image of European countries. As such they completely failed to understand both the source and depth of the housing disaster that had created a mountainous bubble of debt. Thus after stabilizing the banking system instead of attempting to find innovative policies directed at clearing the housing market they rewarded their union allies in the auto industry and state government while at the same time working at turning whole swathes of the economy; health and energy into public utilities though legislation and regulation that has almost stopped economic growth.

    Time and focus wasted the economy struggles in a very precarious state and the “sages”, Romer. Summers. Goolsbee and Orzag have all departed for safer pastures leaving a president whose real world experience leaves him woefully unprepared for dealing with our country’s problems. In “Poor Richard’s Alamanac” Benjamin Franklin opines: “Experience keeps a dear school, but a fool will learn it no other.” He was right and Mr. Obama is still behind the learning curve.

  • Char

    “…the similarities between these two idealistic and patriotic men begin to emerge….”

    Finding The Constitution “too limiting” is not patriotic.

    He wants a European-type country – they don’t work.

    You voted for a Chicago politician who surrounds himself w/radicals who want to destroy America & you can’t figure out why his policies of excessive centrally-controlled regulation don’t work?

    When did it?

  • Sam Timmons

    Interesting article and comments. However, rampant political correctness obscures the most salient facts and conclusions. President Obama doe not “miss the point”; he is not ill informed; he is extremely smart and very well informed. Obama is probably the smartest man and among the cleverest politicians who ever sat in the White House. The difference between Obama and Hoover is that Obama is a committed ideologue. His ideology is race based. Obama was raised by a white mother and white grandparents. Yet in the outside world this intelligent, sensitive, young boy must have felt that he was treated a little bit diferently because the world viewed him as a black man. I believe he started early on to internalized his identity as a black man. This self identity became a central factor in his life. He worked as a community organizer in the poor neighborhoods of south Chicago; he married an Afican American woman; while teaching law he continued to counsel the black community organizers. He listened for twenty years to the preachments of Jerimiah Wright, much of it about “Black Liberation Theology”, which is basically a blue print for socialism. I think that Obama came to believe that socialistic programs would be like a rising tide, lifting all boats; he believes that government provided health care, higher education, employment and housing, will benefit all underprivileged people, most of all Afican Americans, who, by all statistics, are the most underprivelleged. The problem is that its been tried for the lst 50 or so years in Europe and we know where it leads: to bankruptcy of both finances and the human spirit. But that’s where Obama wants to take us. I suspect he would welcome a severe debt crises; to provide the impetus for enactment of something like a Value Added Tax,along with all other existing taxes, which provides the financing for socialism in Europe.


    EXCELLENT ARTICLE. THINK THE ISSUE TODAY is tha Obama is at heart a Socialist who believes his destiny is to create a political elite class, and a workers class, i.e. Soviet Russia.

    this is against the constitution and offends those who have worked all their lives, and are seeing their asset base deteriorate to the growth of big government and big financial institutions.

    America has had two revolutions, 1776 and Civil War, and I wonder if such a thing could again occur

  • ian

    With “great intelligence”? Yet again we see this mindless assertion that Obama is supposedly oh so intelligent. He’s not a moron, but what evidence is there that he is more intelligent than any other run of the mill politician? None that I can see.

  • Peter

    Comparisons to Hoover are interesting from a purely intellectual standpoint, but the realities each dealt with are far different because the federal government’s share of the economy and its role in society were so much smaller and limited. Obama started with a federal government that was already out of control and not only impletmented a huge stimulus plan but also increased the size of the base budget by an amount and degree greater than we have ever experienced outside of all-out war.

    Combined with cash for clunkers and the other programs listed, along with the Fed’s quantitative easing and the suspension of mark to market rules for banks’ mortgage holdings, the actual stimulus, i.e. capital injected into the economy was on the order of $3 trillion. That it has done little good is a testament to the folly of unlimited government intervention. The financial system needed to be saved–and then the government should have got out of the way.

    Instead, what we had on top of stimulus was the passage of a major new entitlement program engineered in secret and passed only under pressure, coupled with a major financial market overhaul essentially written by just two Democratic leaders and their staffs who shared a lack of any real understanding of how the market works, as well as an attempt by regulatory agencies, many headed by idealogoues given their positions in recess appointments, to impose a slew of new rules meant to circumvent any public scrutiny or obtain congressional approval.

    If Obama is reelected he will most certainly continue to pursue his vision for America that most Americans will ultimately find disturbing. Without the chance to run again he will unleash the regulatory agencies under his control like we have never seen before and will simply ignore Congress, even one potentially with a majority of Republicans in both Houses. Obama is a left-wing idealogue of the first order and it should be recognized and acknowledged. He most certainly does want to make America in Europe’s image and will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

  • Ron

    Little is more interesting than the writings of a serious scholar feeling with regret that the Blue Model must come to an end. Brought up in a Democrat household at a time when many social ills needed addressing, or were in the process of being addressed with some initial success, Dr. Mead felt the excitement of many progressives, but was early aware of the clever shredding of the founding documents of the American experiment, as well as the unique importance to the world of their preservation. How many books have been written having as their theme the gradual shift from left to right, from blue to red. David Mamet comes to mind, as does Whitaker Chambers. The shift can be sudden or slow, but the causative events and adjustment of world views from the diverse perspectiives is fascinating. And now we have a review of several presidents who were in so deep, so terrified of losing friends, so ideologically blind, so crippled in their ability to interpret what was going on around them, so afraid of change, and yet good and sincere people. It will become clear that Obama is not so motivated. He is on a mission to fool most of the people most of the time, and we all know where that leads. Dr. Mead, who is not a cynic, moves his remarkable intellect carefully foreward, remembering and honoring the glory days of progressivism, but sees with understandable reluctance the inevitable degradation of all movements. “The hard and ancient virtues blend and blur.”

  • jms

    #14 dookhh: Obama must know by now that he is very likely to not only lose the election, but possibly even lose to a primary challenger. This is why he is so anxious to raise campaign funds right now, so early on. Also notice that he is raising money for his personal political organization, not for the Democratic party.

    Remember that if he loses the primary, all of his unspent campaign funds become his. He can walk away from the presidency with $500 million or more in his pocket, and I expect him to do just exactly that. Watch and see.

  • DaveC

    There’s one big step down from Carter, and that’s Gorbachev. Historians of the Former United States will agree that by 2008, only radical austerity and deregulation could have saved the country from hyperinflation, but Bush, Bernanke, McCain, and Obama chose instead to buy a little time with freshly printed money.

    After a few days’ gloating over America’s downfall, Europeans will ruefully discover that “Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided … but by iron and blood.”

  • mike

    Very interesting article which captures the idea that Obama and his ilk don’t pay attention to actual economic conditions and are not rational enough to believe they could possibly be wrong. The whole concept that his policies “saved” jobs supports his attempt to grasp at straws that further mollify his ego. What is clear he will make no attempt to try anything else, and either he will be replaced in 2012, or he will drive the US into bankruptcy during his second term.

  • section9

    As I recall correctly, Smoot Hawley only added on to the existing Fortney-Macumber Tariff.

    What put the economy into a tailspin was a tax on upper income earners the GOP threw into the economy in 1931. The economy didn’t recover until FDR took office.

  • JohnLeeHooker

    How is there any surprise in our current state of affairs:

    when elected, obama had NO RELEVANT EXPERIENCE

    since then, he’s proved he has NO RELEVANT SKILLS

    ANYBODY paying attention had to be aware of the huge risk electing this person

  • Leah McC

    Your counting on LUCK!!! This was an incredibly halarious article when I came to that part. Perhaps now that we have lost our home,and are living in our RV in the State Park!; I should take what little cash we have and spend it on lottery tickets- Maybe LUCK can turn things around since it is quite obvious this loser will not.

  • Corey

    “Here’s the contradiction: If Obama is actually as smart as we’ve all been told, then why is he a socialist?”

    see there is no justification for this in history nor reality. So far progressivism has destroyed nations, 1 by 1, and yet the progressives are committed and motivated to keep trying. Even if we defeat Obama next year, the progressives will find a new body to host the failed ideology and foist it upon us.

  • Stu_in_VA

    Worry about deficits didn’t cause FDR to stop spending (austerity); he pushed massive tax increases, which caused unemployment to rise just as it was starting to fall (the unemployment rate during the depression is a saw tooth pattern).
    The gov’t could improve things (at no cost to the taxpayer) by making a serious effort to allow oil drilling (it will reduce oil prices, faster than everyone thinks); suspending Obamacare and EPA CO2 rule implementation until the workforce recovers; and stop some of the other regulatory over-reach that his administration is famous for.

  • Optimus Maximus

    Ah, the incandescent stupidity of the progressives!

    They continue, like the other non-deserving Noble winner, Paul Krugman [disparaging revision of surname redacted — ed], to insist we simply haven’t spent ENOUGH, and if we would only spend MORE, the economy would rebound.

    Can they point to a single sustained recovery that increased government spending, a la Keynesian economic theory, produced?


    Can we, who believe in the Austrian Economic models (as explained by Von Mises and Hayek) and the manifest superiority of free markets, point to sustained recoveries generated by following a supply side path of less government spending, less regulation, and lower taxes?

    Of course! You have the Coolidge recovery in the 1920’s, the Kennedy bump in the 1960’s, and of course the Reagan boom of the 1980’s-1990’s…and that’s just here in the USA. Lots of other examples overseas, from Thatcher’s economy in Great Britain, to the various eastern block countries that adopted these models as they came out from under the yoke of the former USSR.

    In short, it’s only worked every time it has been tried.

    But hey, let’s not confuse anyone with facts and history. Let’s just keep pretending that the only reason Keynesian economic theory, like socialism, has never worked is that it just hasn’t been implemented correctly…by the right kind of people..

    Give us a break, and wise up.

  • Bonfire of the Idiocies

    Failure to learn is perhaps not “one of” the mistakes, it is THE mistake, the key mistake that presidents (or anyone) can make. It’s what we learn after we know everything that counts.

  • Bill

    As usual this article by WR Mead is well written, but it also suffers greatly from the fallacy of analogy.

    US industrial production fell by 50% from 1929 to 1932.

    US unemployment rose by 600% during the same period, to 25%.

    That’s a different kettle of fish from GDP growth of circa 2% and 9% unemployment, don’tcha think?

    This is not to minimize the current challenges in the economy, but come on.

    A more serious review of Obama’s situation would also note that passage of the TARP under Bush severely limited his ability to get the stimulus package Mead and others now argue for (what was Mead’s view then?). And that the challenge of long term structural unemployment and rising underemployment has been a problem a long time in coming, certainly prior to 20 Jan 2009.

    Mead would likely argue that despite its origins Obama owns responsibility for the current economic mess, and that is true. But he also benefits from a GOP that continues to cater solely to its base and uninspiring field of GOP candidates. Lucky indeed in his opposition, which can’t be said of Hoover.

    And I don’t believe HH killed OBL.

  • Can avoid: yes.
    Will avoid: no.

  • Tom Kinney

    Perhaps the most interesting debate about Obama is his alleged intelligence. He’s certainly book smart. SAT smart. Brainy nerd smart. Policy wonk smart. But he doesn’t know Main Street from Mean Street and he doesn’t know much about either of them. Common sense? Not a clue. Real world economics? Please! Foreign affairs that is practical and not 100% ideological? Not a chance.

    Carter was smart, a physicist. Nixon, many think, was perhaps our smartest president. Smart not only isn’t necessarily good for the presidency; it may be a creaking and wobbling deficit.

    This is partially because we don’t really have a very good metric for identifing intelligence and thus it defaults into an IQ/SAT format of who can pull trick answers out of a trick question hat. The multiple choice Q&As of our sorrowful school system.

    Intelligence should be seen as a finely crosshatched matrix of abilities and assets. To be able to show empathy at home and abroad. To be able to function in the most mundane ways in the work place, the pub, and the home. To have healthy friends to whom one feels responsible. To have a beggering curiosity about all things. TO NOT BE DOCTRINAIRE in one’s thinking. To be flexible and fluid in one’s thinking. And most of all, to realize the areas in which one isn’t particularly intelligent and therefore to compensate for it and if nothing else to be able to admit it to that pesky mirror that doesn’t go away even when one sleeps.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    “He Has Made Everything Worse”

  • David N. Narr

    Hoover had an actual record of accomplishment before he was elected President.

  • mulp

    Well, Smoot-Hawley was passed by the Republican Congress before they lost power to Democrats in 1931.

    With Democrats in the majority, Hoover hiked taxes to fund bigger government and that turned the tide in 1933 when the economy took off with FDR rushing to pass the the Hoover bills that Democrats delayed action on after Hoover lost the election. And FDR doubled down on Hoover, and it worked, contrary to the conservative attempts to rewrite history.

    No president since FDR has created jobs faster than FDR did in his first and third terms. In the second term, job creation fell off as many felt the economy was self sustaining and government needed to pull back, plus the rising wages signaled the Fed was creating hyper-inflation.

    If Hoover had had a progressive Republican Congress, he might have pulled the economy back from the brink, and night have been reelected. And today presidents would have been more like him, defending BP and Massey business practices as employee deaths the unavoidable cost of progress and profits.

    But FDR and Hoover weren’t that different, and they had both been good friends before they parted ways on how actively and hastily government should intervene, not on whether government should intervene.

    The voters wanted hasty and active intervention, and elected FDR who promised much more vigorous action by government to what Democrats portrayed as Hoover’s callus passive response to the suffering of the people.

    So, which Republican challenger is going to promise hasty and active government action to create jobs and get the economy going? Yep, Republicans are claiming Obama has been passive in his efforts to deal with the problems of the economy, failing to:
    – create jobs
    – failing to end the mortgage foreclosures
    – failing to halt the falling housing prices
    – failing to balance the budget
    – seeking to ration health care

    So, what are the Republicans promising?
    – more job losses
    – pushing for faster foreclosures
    – pushing down wages and housing prices
    – slashing spending on health care
    – freeing health care from any limits on profits or prices
    – rationing health care to poor, disable, elderly
    – more passive government

  • Mike C

    Hoover seemed, and Obama seems, to suffer from a fatal conceit – Hoover did not, and Obama apparently does not, understand that one’s reach can exceed one’s grasp.

    In another universe, Obama could have been another FDR. But, in this one, the public mood has shifted after some 75 years of New-Deal-esque government. Most people my age and younger (I am 47) see the federal government as at best a well-intentioned klutz and more often as out-of-touch, self-aggrandizing, and destructive. My own kids (21 and 18 years of age) share this point of view, albeit for somewhat different reasons.

    So, we see what is happening in the US to-day. Seemingly everywhere else in the world, people are agitating in the streets for a bigger care-taker government. Here in the US, people are demonstrating – and, now, organizing – to “downsize DC”. Alas, neither major US political party is listening, really.

    As George Washington plaintively asked in the musical “1776”, “Is anybody there? Does anybody care?”

    No, they aren’t; no, they don’t. It’s up to us.

  • Paul Kronfield

    The author of this piece doesn’t get the principal problem with this “president”.

    The fact is, that Obama wants to destroy the United States as we know it. He is doing everything he can to hasten our destruction.

    This is not bad luck. This is intentional.

  • Given the forgiving tone of the article, one wonders what Obama would have to do to merit the author’s contempt.

    If Obama’s repeated ignoring of the law – think GM bondholders, ObamaCare waivers, Black Panther coddling, Boeing, et al – violating the Constitution, and raping simple common sense isn’t enough to warrant that, what would?

  • Joseph Somsel

    Sorry Professor, but this this was entertaining but not persuasive.

    The link between Carter, Hoover, and Obama remains bad ideas and poor thinking.

    I will note that Milton Freedman did a book on the Great Depression and blamed bank failures and the lack of currency on the poor policies of the Federal Reserve Bank. By deliberately contracting the money on a down turn, they forced many banks into insolvency from inadequate reserves. This further contracted the money supply. That’s why every popular recount of the Depression has common people complaining about the simple fact of “no money.” The Fed had removed money from circulation.

  • Luke Lea

    Look on the bright side. His replacement may be the new FDR (who ran on a conservative, balance-the-budget platform and became, famously, “a traitor to his class”).

  • cali

    Mr. Mead,
    thanks for another great article; as always educating for me personally.
    Obama’s narcissism does not allow him to think any other way; he’s a political hack of the worst kind.
    Mr.Barone not long ago rightly labeled Obamas admin as a ‘Gangster govt’.
    He is malicious in denying assistance in emergencies such as the Texas fires because he did not win the election there. The same with Louisiana; the Chrysler take-over-closing with the exception of one mainly conservative dealerships. His, and his wifes lavish world trips with an entourage only a kind could fream of.
    His hostility towards Israel, his support of the Muslim Brotherhood, I could go on and on.!
    I hope we’ll have enough time to survive before we can boot him out. He does NOT have America’s best interest at heart. His intentional destruction of the small businesses etc…!
    Being truthful is not one of his strongsuits; denigrating America overseas, bowing down to dictators, not to mention cuddling our enemies, and ignoring or snubbing of our allies.
    His mentor Soros, and whomever else is guiding, and feeding him actions is another concern.

  • Adobe Walls

    No amount of stimulus would be effective,Keynesian economics are simply incorrect. In previous recessions treated with stimulus the economy recovered in spite of Government intervention not because of it. As regulations have increased the harder it becomes to do and most importantly start new businesses. The existing and future regulations along with the crony capitalist tax code have gotten so crushing that it’s almost impossible for all but the largest to do business. Economies of scale applies to the regulatory and tax environments as much as any other condition.

  • nadine

    I agree with the commenters above who say that Obama is not nearly as bright as he thinks he is, or WRM gives him credit for being. I would add that Obama is not very good at politics either – at least the kind that comes into play after you take office.

    Just think how FDR would have owned the push for Obamacare, how he would have shaped the bill and sold it as a checklist of 5 Simple Things That Are Good For You and Good for America. FDR would have adroitly addressed questions about the bill and reassured the public.

    Instead Obama let Reid/Pelosi turn Obamacare into a 2700 page monstrousity that we famously had to pass before we could find out what it did; lamely tried to sell it with a bunch of vague, unappealing and untruthful promises, and finally, having failed to win majority support, Obama had to let Reid&Pelosi do a legislative jam down full of bribes and procedural tricks. Obama never even addressed questions about the bill; Obama’s answer to every question was the False Choice and the Strawman Argument.

    IMO, Obama may be gifted but he is also intellectually lazy and shallow. Name me one single day’s hard work he has ever done! His gifts are all applied to the Pose and the Con; to persuading people to give him the power he thinks he deserves.

  • Kohl Haas

    Having lived through it, I can tell you that the economy did not noticeably improve until the war. FDR connived to get us in the war and there we have recovery policy that worked; take out all the competition.

    My father had an ongoing hope/despair opinion of FDR. As he put it, “I voted for him to get us out of the Depression, he didn’t so I voted against him. Then I voted against him because I thought he was determined to get us out of the war. I voted for him the fourth time because I didn’t think we should change horses in mid-stream so the SOB got in again and promptly died and left us in the lurch anyway.”

    My father was also an isolationist and furious when FDR embargoed oil to Japan, claiming they would attack us within a year. After they did, I remember him rather resignedly saying “Well, we’re in it, we better damn well win it”. No protests, no marches, just roll up your sleeves and do what needs done. Different generation.

  • teapartydoc

    I, unlike Mr. Somsel, totally agree with your analysis. Professor Friedman understood the cause of the depression only too well, and this included the progressive idea of central banking itself.”The EXISTENCE [my caps] of such a financial system is, of course, the ULTIMATE EXPLANATION [mine again] for the financialcollapse, rather than the shift in power from New York to other Federal Reserve Banks and the weakness of the Reserve Board, since it permitted those circumstances to have such far-reaching consequences…” This from the famous monetary history. I ended with the ellipse because one could go on, but what’s the use? This was published so long ago and no one cares enough to change for the better.

    The point is that all of these men were stuck in the rut of progressive thinking and, like a stag in rut have only one thing on their minds, only, if it were the same particular thing as the stag, we would undoubtedly be the better for it, for they perhaps wouldn’t be so intent on arranging things in such a manner that all activity is centered around themselves and their government offices.

    Progressivism itself is the problem.

  • Luke Lea

    Thanks #22 mulp and #17 Bill for a little push-back in the comments. If Obama really wants to help his fellow blacks on Chicago’s Southside and his fellow blue-collar whites in Kansas he would enforce our immigration laws with e-verify and slap a 10% surcharge on imports from China for starters.

    He might also consider a reform of our wage-and-hour laws to spread the employment around and a graduated consumption tax as the fairest and most efficient way, maybe the only way, to tax the wealthy.

    Whether the guy has the flexibility and courage to embrace such “unorthodox” measures I have no idea. What about the Republicans?

  • Kohl Haas

    Paul Kronfield sums it up very well. And Obama is doing it very well as was noted previously he is turning large parts of the economy into union-run utilities: health care, education, automobile manufacturing, etc.

    Energy is the big plum; once he controls that he can ration and allocate and control everything else with the right to dispense and withhold.

    Remember cap and trade? Didn’t pass. Along comes BP/Macondo in the nick of time. Does anyone wonder why a 27-year veteran of offshore operations decided to proceed in a manner against all the advice on the rig and against basic principles and procedures taught to junior petroleum-engineering students – and has not been heard from since?

    The oil business is now choked by delays and regulations. Shortages? High prices? No problem. We can ration and really get control – even to what cars people buy from the government car company, where people live, who they work for, and when they go on vacation.

  • Qiao


  • Katie

    Tom Kinney is not actually describing “intelligence” (“Intelligence should be seen as a finely crosshatched matrix of abilities and assets. To be able to show empathy at home and abroad. To be able to function in the most mundane ways in the work place, the pub, and the home. To have healthy friends to whom one feels responsible. To have a beggering curiosity about all things. TO NOT BE DOCTRINAIRE in one’s thinking. To be flexible and fluid in one’s thinking. And most of all, to realize the areas in which one isn’t particularly intelligent and therefore to compensate for it and if nothing else to be able to admit it to that pesky mirror that doesn’t go away even when one sleeps.”) This is, instead, something like what Daniel Goleman called “EQ” and is quite different from “intelligence.” The latter is the speed at which the brain works and the amount of information it can process and retain; the former, EQ, equates more with “walking-around smarts,” and may, in fact, be more important in a political leader, but is equally the strong suit of the demagogue. IQ, at least, responds to new information and can master a steep learning curve; EQ seeks to survive.

  • Jason

    “Misguided monetary policy at the Fed made things worse,”

    Don’t dance around it. Come right out and say the truth: IT THE FAILURE OF THE GOLD STANDARD. And anybody that advocates returning to it is a clueless kook!

  • Peter Verkooijen

    This analysis misses the point on so many levels. Why can’t Americans accept the simple fact that Barack Obama is a lifelong old-fashioned hardline marxist-leninist?

    Barack Obama is not Jimmy Carter, not Bill Clinton and certainly not Herbert Hoover.

    Barack Obama is achieving everything he set out to do; expand government, choke off the private sector, turn America into a centrally planned economy. He is taking control through various means, from nationalization of companies like GM to new corporatist structures (“public-private partnerships”) to the Dodd-Frank financial regulation that will insert government into “investment decisions”.

    Companies and individuals that toe the party line win; they get government contracts, grants, subsidies, exemptions. Those who don’t lose; they will be regulated to death, hounded by the IRS and EPA, etc. That is not a bug, it’s a feature. Companies and individuals are already starting to change their behavior to accommodate to the new regime.

    The end goal is literally a centrally planned economy. That is what Obama would call “a smart economy”; an economy not run by the “evil profit motive”, but by selfless wise bureaucrats working in service to “the folks”. The Obamacrats are taking very deliberate, well thought out steps to get there and so far they are succeeding beyond their wildest dreams. It’s the final stage of their “long march through the institutions”.

    The collapse of the private sector itself is not a bug, it’s a feature. But the Obamacrats are making sure that the Republicans will get the blame. Specifically the debt ceiling issue is set up to explain the double dip into full-blown depression.

    And it will work. Millions of unemployed will believe Republican spending cuts cost them their jobs. Clueless conservatives will play into the Obamacrats hands at every turn. Obama will get his second term and it will be full steam ahead into totalitarian socialism. Nothing will be able to stop the Obama Revolution after 2013.

  • nadine

    Victor Davis Hanson has pegged Obama’s MO: “Two themes predominate: a cluelessness about how things work outside the Ivy League–Chicago–D.C. political nexus, and a sense that nothing is ever Barack Obama’s fault.”

    This was in response to Obama’s blaming ATMs for unemployment today. Oh swell, the President is a Luddite. He blames the machines for unemployment. Perhaps calling Obama a socialist is a slight to socialists – didn’t socialists have to understand Marxist economic theory, at least? Obama’s understanding of economics does not seem even that advanced.

    Hanson has also put his finger on why Obama will not rise even to Carter’s level: Obama’s refusal to take responsibility for his own record. In all his career, the only thing he ever had to produce before was either votes or government spending. The idea that it’s not enough to spend money, the policies actually have to work, seems entirely foreign to his understanding. Notice that Obama has stopped governing and has now returned to full-time campaigning. Have you ever seen a president do that before, a full 18 months before an election?

  • GarandFan

    Keep making excuses for Barry. You elected an empty suit full of long discredited socialist theories, that he would ‘get right this time’.

    They didn’t work before. They’re not going to work now.

    Wake up and smell the coffee. Excuse time is over. Barry will avoid it, but for the first time in his political life he’ll have to run for re-election on his record of accomplishments. He had none before, he’s got none now.

    Big surprise.

  • A few points:

    the realities each dealt with are far different because the federal government’s share of the economy and its role in society were so much smaller and limited.

    The present US dollar would be worth about 1.5 cents in 1929 dollars. Hoover’s deficits were actually rather large although the welfare state had not yet appeared.

    Carter was NOT a physicist and was never a nuclear engineer. He was a naval officer who was NEVER qualified in reactors.

    How do we know Obama is smart ? If he were and had high SAT scores don’t you think they would have been leaked ?

    A new president who dismantled the regulatory state of the past 30 years would see a boom like Reagan.

  • pat

    He is an unaccomplished intellect, who always was lauded, and believed once in office that he would be assisted by brilliant people. Unfortunately, they came in three types, the election and unethical animals like Axelrod, the far left dimwits like Van Jones, and the Chicago Mafia. He was stroked by the fanciers like GE and Apple. Which have more jobs overseas than in America. And may, hint hint, be anti_American capitalism. All are absolutely incapable of running anything outside of their respective spheres of influence.

  • TomD

    The “penultimate” dissing? Love your stuff, but I have to confess I don’t understand this one.

  • Lavaux

    I’m willing to grant that Pres. Obama is patriotic, but only with the proviso that he loves America as it should be and not as it is. That’s why he’s undertaken a comprehensive renovation of America in the midst of a deep recession, and that’s why he’ll stick to his plan even at the expense of another term.

    What is more, I don’t buy the argument that Pres. Obama would employ supply side policies to jump-start the economy if only he knew enough about them. In truth, he believes they’re unjust and do more social harm than economic good, which is why he wants to raise income tax rates (but can’t due to his party’s cowardice).

    For the past three years, the Democrat Party’s lockstep mantra has been that America must run away from Bush’s failed policies. What are said policies, and have the Democrats run away from them or doubled down on them? Well, let’s see: Entitlement expansion, double down; deficit spending, double down; printing money, double down; borrowing trillions from China, double down; refusing to fix immigration law and border security, double down; foreign wars, double down; job-killing and growth-retarding regulation and legislation, double down; forcing banks and finance companies to lend money to people who can’t pay it back, double down; crony capitalism, double down.

    Wow! It seems that the Obama administration is simply the Bush administration on steroids. That’s why my theory is that Pres. Obama’s trajectory is Lincoln, Clinton, Dubya.

  • Jeff

    You inexplicably missed the most obvious comparison to Hoover: Blamed for the results of the policies of his predecessor which led to financial ruin.

  • Mick

    Please. Obama is the WORST thing to ever happen to America. He is a direct frontal assault on the sovereignty of We the People.
    Patriotic? You have to be kidding. He is knowingly Usurping the Presidency. He was born a British Subject, of a British Subject father, and could not be a natural born Citizen, even if born in the Whitehouse. He CLEARLY lacks the prerequisite Allegiance and Attachment to this country to be the CIC. His JOB is to crash the economy and America w/ it by Overloading the system. We have reached Debt Saturation, and there won’t be any “return to growth” anytime soon, and it’s about to get a whole lot worse. Obama has made sure of that.

  • ICwatiz

    Failure as a leader and worse, a failure to his race! While he accuses a justifiably screaming populace (on ALL ends of the political spectrum now) of “racism” for their opposition to his madman antics, he has doomed the African-American to now bear the memory of the first black U.S. President as attempting (and still possibly) enslaving all Americans, by destroying the constitution, the economy and the American exceptionalism that is the very essence of who we are. He looks no better than a baby version of any dictator around the world, and if he is not voted out we will be only a geographical location, not a nation any longer. Which would suit the man, tragically, just fine.

  • Tom Kinney

    To Katie. Fair enough. I’m less interested in a definition of intelligence per se than in functional smarts. If intelligence is little more than sheer brain speed, then a schizophrenic hallucinating 24/7/365 at warp speed may well be the brainiac all-star NASCAR champ, i.e., the fastest smart person on the planet. That would be nothing more than good credentials for a carnival sideshow somewhere.

    Rather, I was thinking loosely of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner, the other Big Book from assorted Ivy League geniuses who tend to think they have a monopoly on the commodity of intelligence. Both books, however, do propose interesting and helpful ideas that broaden the scope on what we call intelligence and I do recommend them as long as they’re not taken too seriously as they’ve already been somewhat discredited.

    My point is simply that there’s more to being a president than high IQ, which a somewhat dubious asset that almost seems to get in the way of functional smarts. While functional smarts, in turn, requires a healthy balance of attributes, not just the possession of a few asperger-like splinter skills.

  • Chuck O

    I have to agree with Lavaux. What has truly hurt the Obama administration is that in his first 2 years in office he had to weather the economic catastrophe that was left from Bush’s years in office. Then, American’s unhappiness with the lack in change of the economy resulted in the republicans taking control of Congress, thus ensuring the continuation of many of Bush’s economic policies. Obama certainly has done a lot of good for the underprivileged in our society, but it is clear that many of the other commenters have no care for that, i.e. most people are accusing him of socialism/ debating his intelligence.

  • Duncan MacKenzie

    I would disagree with a premise of this article.
    I am one of those former independents who elected Obama. We most certainly did elect him to be transformative!

    We didn’t hire him to transform health care though.

    We hired him to stop the torturing. We hired him to get us out of Iraq and catch Bin Laden. We hired him to stop the destruction of our civil liberties. We hired him to stop the destruction of the U.S. Constitution. We hired him to fix the financial system and the economy.

    He got us out of Iraq. Bin Laden is dead. I don’t know about you, but I still have a job at least. That’s 2 or 3 out of 7.

    Everything else he promised, he stabbed us in the back.

  • Al

    Too many words to say what can be said very simply:

    Our society has changed greatly since Hoover, FDR, et al and it isn’t going to ‘go back’ to the ‘way it used to be’.

    A very large percentage of our citizenry are now into the third generation of ’employment’ that consists of knowing every angle of the give-away-take-care-of-me programs available at all government levels.

    Another very large percentage of our citizenry are employed in government take-care-of-me-for-life jobs.

    The remainder of our citizenry are working in jobs that produce products or services, including self-employment, and this is the segment that is very, very weary. They look around and see that they are being hung out to dry financially.

    When the producers in a society give up, or grow too weary to keep on trying, you have a big problem that a so-called stimulous isn’t going to correct.

  • Badazz

    section9 – Thank goodness Republicans have mended their ways. When will the Dems come around?

  • John Minehan

    Bush 41? Cereberal, dispassionate, careful—admired but not loved? Does not get you re-elected in tough economic times.

  • Physician heal thyself

    This is an interesting argument. It elides the fact that Hoover was progressive only in comparison to Coolidge. And it ignores a reality some have been pointing out since Obama’s election: his coalition was never going to survive the choices that governing demands.

    On its present course, the country is torn between the demands of an aging grasshopper generation — including old, mostly white independents — and a more diverse, younger vote. At the risk of being impolitic: one of those groups will fade out sooner than the other. But the latter group bears the brunt of selfish policymaking choices now.

    What doomed Hoover was not his work ethic, which ruined his health. It certainly wasn’t his generosity. Most of all, it was his bottomless cupidity — he secured endless pledges from financiers and industrialists, who never did get around to sharing the wealth. And it was his conviction that the private sector would fix this, that helping the unemployed was some kind of sin.

    By the end of Hoover’s tenure, mainstream thinkers openly considered discarding capitalism. Some questioned the viability of American democracy. If Roosevelt had not summoned the creativity and flexibility that failed Hoover, who knows what would have happened. Those who rail against Roosevelt seem never to consider that it would have involved more class warfare, of the literal kind, not less.

  • stevelaudig

    Unmentioned in the article is war/s which makes Johnson and the arc Johnson’s electoral fate is likely to have followed had he not quit possibly a better fit.

  • Bruce B

    It is interesting that people are still referring to BHO as smart or brilliant. I’m sure those hidden transcripts would reveal that, but he’s too modest to release them.

    At least people have stopped referring to him as having masterful communication skills. It took a while, but after enough cringe inducing gaffes, that mantra has been dropped.

    He and his staff are probably delusional enough to think that the American people are still charmed by him. He is going to lose the election by 15 or 20 points. There will be lots of excuses, but he probably won’t grasp that America rejected Marxism.

  • Cunctator

    A very long article that, while containing some insights, tends to overuse the Hoover analogy. There is a fundamental difference between Hoover and Obama: the former was a self-made man with a large humanitarian streak; Obama is a product of affirmative action who is, at heart, a socialist. The former sought to reform: the latter to transform. The former loved his countrymen: the latter, well, to be charitable, views himself as superior and deserving of the accolades he receives regardless of his accomplishments. The former was, by all accounts, a relatively modest man that would not have made the gaffes the latter did during his recent visit to the UK.

    Analogies are useful, of course, but they are also terribly misleading.

  • John Mainhart

    I am not as hopeful as you because I see clearly the importance of one of the reasons you gave for our present malaise that being the lack of the underpinning of moral values by our leaders in all fields. I don’t knw how you can fix the myriad of problems we face by simply staying the course or introducing new untried systems to solve our problems if they are not value based. I agree more with an earler statement you made in another article where you suggested that our systems will have to unravel so that new people can emerge to solve these problems.

  • Andy Taylor

    The only thing we have to fear is fear mongers.

    Obama is sitting pretty because todays Republicans have NOT “questioned th[eir] core ideas or to think about ways in which the economic emergency might require steps that in normal times would not be taken.”

  • Finn

    Physician heal thyself

    Err, Hoover increased the highest tax margin to 63%. That isn’t “wealth sharing”?

    “And it was his conviction that the private sector would fix this, that helping the unemployed was some kind of sin.”

    Also recommend reading article “Herbert Hoover and the Myth of Laissez-Faire” to get rid of this false image you have of Hoover as Laissez-Faire politician.

  • Craig Purcell

    Tweedling around with Medicare will undoubtedly be the Republican undoing and when Obama brings the troops home it will be welcomed with one arms. Barry is already on the “drill baby drill” bandwagon even if it means damaging the biosphere a bit longer. A second Obama Administration will take on Wall Street & their multinational buds while insituting cap and trade.

    It should be great fun to watch the Repubs deconstruct especially if patriotic and common sense conservative Palin enters the fray — which she needs to do just to clear her name of the Mainstream slander to which she has been subjected.

  • Morgan

    Andy Taylor – Obama is sitting pretty? His public approval numbers suggest otherwise.

  • jim filyaw

    glen reynolds is a bona fide whackjob. glen beck without the blackboard. michele bachmann without the reasonableness. sean hannity without the war record.

  • Al is spot on when he says,
    “When the producers in a society give up, or grow too weary to keep on trying, you have a big problem that a so-called stimulous isn’t going to correct.”

    That is the premise of my new novel,
    “The Noah Option.” It projects current trends into the near future and shows the producers of our society giving up and retreating from this economic tsunami of coercion and control into “Arks.”
    Check it out at

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