Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Using David Brooks as a compass

On tonight's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Shields & Brooks discussed the election and the challenges facing President-elect Obama.

One exchange in particular caught my ear.
The set-up:
DAVID BROOKS: "...there's a debate now in the Democratic Party and in the Obama circles, is it 1933 or is it 1993? In other words, is it 1933? Huge problems, we just have to come out of the box with a full-bore agenda, health care, energy, big programs, just -- we've got this moment. Let's do it all as quickly as we can.

Or is it 1993, when Clinton took office, where you have a country a little dubious about big government programs, about a new Democratic Party, and you try to do it step by step. You do SCHIP. You do Earned Income Tax Credit. You do a small tax cut. You do a series of things to build."
Jim Lehrer kindly helped Mr. Brooks pursue this line of inquiry:
JIM LEHRER: "And what clue did you get from Barack Obama's words as to how he's going to do this?"
This was just the follow-up Brooks was hoping for:
DAVID BROOKS: "And so I think, if you're thinking in his shoes, you say, "You've got to build. You've got to show people. We're going to give you real practical results right away, but we're not going to give you the big health care plan right away. We may not do the entire energy plan right away, but we're going to build up to -- we're going to show you something practical right away, but we're going to build up to those things."
[After Landmark Victory, Challenges Begin for Barack Obama]
So, David Brooks' advice to Obama is to go slowly, gradually... In the context of the original framing of this discussion: be Bill Clinton in 1993, not FDR in 1933.

That's good enough for me: If David Brooks thinks you should be a gradualist, go the opposite direction - do the 1933 FDR thing!

Brooks has been lost for much of this election cycle. In praising Sen. McCain, he relates anecdotes told by most Senators of unpleasant encounters with McCain in which McCain wags his finger in their faces, yells at them... then apologizes an hour or so later.
A minute later, Brooks reveals that a President has no time for reflection - his day is filled with meetings, and he must be ready to make the decision NOW! - with no opportunity to revisit, rethink, or apologize...
So... just why does Brooks believe that McCain's admittedly mercurial temperament is a good fit in the White House???
[Brooks' comments, paraphrased above, were made during a recent appearance on Charlie Rose; the show charges for transcripts, so I won't be getting one to provide a more accurate rendition of Brooks' remarks!]

As stated above: if David Brooks suggests President Obama proceed cautiously, I believe the best conclusion President-elect Obama can draw is that he ought proceed with all deliberate speed!

Have a nice day.

p.s. My sense is that conservatives in general & Republicans in particular don't quite get the implications of the 2006 & 2008 elections. We've elected Democrats!... not because we want warmer-and-fuzzier Republicans, but because we want Democrats.

1 comment:

  1. Hasn't that always been the approach preached to minorities, "It has to be gradual." The civil rights movement came about because gradual never worked. FDR hit the ground running and his programs are still with us even after 30+ years of Reaganomics. Clinton's advances stopped in six months of bush's administration.
    I agree now is the time to jump in the pool not wade into it.