Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama Trying On Reagan's Big Shoes

Obama has been compared to FDR, JFK, LBJ, and Jimmy Carter. He has spoken well of Ronald Reagan, and took heat for it in the primaries. Lou Cannon explains ("Obama's Reagan Transformation?" New York Times, Jan. 28, 2009) how it makes sense for him, under these conditions of economic distress, to mimic Ronald Reagan by putting off the social agenda and other domestic priorities until he has the economy back on its feet. There are signs that Reagan is indeed the model he is following.

The trouble is that whereas Reagan understood how wealth is created and thus how an economy grows, Obama's economic medicine is likely to extend and deepen our suffering. In a time of crisis, such as Reagan faced and such as Barack Obama is facing now, it is not enough simply to learn from Reagan the tactician (and Reagan, we learn, took counsel from Nixon), but to learn from Reagan the statesman in general. This necessarily includes understanding the relationship between the substance of his political and economic principles and the flourishing of the nation under his leadership.

Being Reagan is not as easy at it looks.

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