Barack Obama can’t seem to catch a break.
He’s chastised from the left for not doing enough to stimulate job growth and chastised from the right for turning America into a socialist state.
Republicans, in lockstep, suddenly discover the word “dithering” and use it unceasingly to characterize Obama’s deliberate review of the Afghanistan war. Democrats can’t understand why the United States keeps fighting a war that many consider un-winnable.
Just about everyone (count me in) is calling on Obama to do more to make America healthy again. We just can’t agree on what more is and often forget what an unholy mess he inherited.
Now two interesting accounts in The New York Times suggest that the president may be doing some things right after all.
First comes a column by David Brooks, titled “What Geithner Got Right.” It’s notable because Republicans in the Congress this week have again begun calling for the treasury secretary’s scalp and because Brooks, a one-time editor at William Buckley’s Weekly Standard, holds the position of The Times moderate-conservative resident columnist. (This makes him a member of a dying breed called thinking Republicans, those who don’t spend a lot of time dithering about death panels and whether the president is actually a Marxist or a Maoist).
Here’s some of what Brooks wrote:
The criticism of (Timothy Geithner’s) plan to stabilize the financial system came from all directions. House Republicans called it radical. Many liberal economists thought the plan was the product of hapless, zombie thinking and argued that only full bank nationalization would end the crisis. The Wall Street Journal asked 49 economists to grade Geithner. They gave him an F.
Well, the evidence of the past eight months suggests that Geithner was mostly right and his critics were mostly wrong. The financial sector is in much better shape than it was then. TARP money is being repaid, and the debate now is what to do with the billions that were never needed. It now seems clear that nationalization would have been an unnecessary mistake — potentially expensive and dangerously disruptive. The course of events has vindicated the administration’s handling of its first big challenge.
Then today’s Times offers this assessment of the president’s jobs package: New Consensus Sees Stimulus Package as a Worthy Step. (This obviously will do nothing to convince the 20 percent or so of Americans who believe The Times to be an extension of the old Soviet government organ Pravda, but you can’t convince all the people all the time.)
The Times wrote:
“In interviews, a broad range of economists said the White House and Congress were right to structure the package as a mix of tax cuts and spending, rather than just tax cuts as Republicans prefer or just spending as many Democrats do.
The president, of course, should not get too encouraged by these bits of praise as he sails toward a horizon choppy from headwinds. For one thing, much remains to be done. For another, Americans are far too busy to notice, anyway.
Who has time to talk about the economy when Sarah is still out there going rogue and speculation is running wild over what it will really mean when Oprah moves to cable (in two years)?
This, after all, is news worth following…Oh, yes. Just click the links if you want to read more about the boring economy.
But remember to stay tuned to the real stuff: Fisticuffs between Ernie and Bert at 5, followed by Oscar the Grouch finds Jesus and turns sunny.