Streetwise Professor

July 15, 2011

Steven Hayward Channels SWP

Filed under: Economics,Politics — The Professor @ 8:00 pm

In a previous post I noted that whereas (to quote Oliver Wendell Holmes) FDR had a second rate intellect and a first rate personality, Obama rates a tie at best in the first category and  is out of the running altogether in the second.  In another, I compared Obama to Woodrow Wilson, with words that resonate today in light of the ongoing debt ceiling battle:

Like Wilson, Obama is a self-styled progressive who is deeply skeptical of the Founders’ creation.  Like Wilson, Obama is firmly convinced of his own rectitude and his moral superiority over his political foes.  As with Wilson, this makes Obama firmly opposed to compromise with these foes; he views compromise as betrayal of a fundamental belief, and as Wilson did, he views his opponents as morally defective.  Obama, like Wilson, is a Nobel Peace Price winner (although Wilson actually did something to merit it).

Today at Powerline, Reagan biographer Steven Hayward makes the same two comparisons in one paragraph:

Increasingly it is apparent that Obama is not the second-coming of FDR, as he hoped, but the second-coming of Woodrow Wilson (Jimmy Carter also fits for multiple reasons), chiefly his arrogance toward Congress and condescension of the American people.  I think it was Oliver Wendell Holmes who said of FDR that he had “a second-rate intellect, but a first-rate temperament.” With Obama, we were supposed to be getting both a first-rate intellect to go with a first-rate temperament, but it is increasingly obvious that Obama has neither.

In the end, Wilson’s self-righteousness, rigidity, arrogance, condescension, habitual demonization of his political foes, and academic detachment–not to say alienation–from ordinary Americans, resulted in a stunning political crack-up.

Obama is at risk of suffering a similar fate because he shares so much with Wilson.  But now is not the time, and the debt ceiling is not the issue.  Any cuts promised in a deal would prove chimerical, and as a result, a victory on getting Obama to agree to cuts would prove pyrrhic if it were to enhance Obama’s reelection chances–which it very well could.  So raise the ceiling, vote through cuts, watch the latter die in the Senate, and let the Republican presidential candidate have a principled argument about the issue next year, for what happens in November 2012 is what matters, not what transpires in July or August of 2011.

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1 Comment »

  1. Really good post.

    Comment by pahoben — July 18, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

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