Sunday, June 14, 2009

Must Read: Kevin Baker's "Barack Hoover Obama"

When you get a chance, read Kevin Baker’s “Barack Hoover Obama” in this JULY Harper’s. Although it came out a week ago, it was not available on the Web until a few days ago. I am a subscriber and could not access the article using my username and password until this week-end. I provided you above with a link to the article but for non-subscriber you probably will have to buy the print edition of the magazine to read it. It is most likely in stores already; as a subscriber I got mine through the mail last week.

The thesis of the article is that, in spite of his good intentions, President Barack Obama has not and may not be able, during the course of his mandate, to implement a substantial reform agenda due to strong entrenched interests.

Here are some excerpts of the text:

“Just as Herbert Hoover could not, in the end, break away from the best economic advice of the 1920, Barack Obama is sticking with the "key men" of the 1990. The predictable result is that, even as he claims to recognize the interlocking nature of the problems facing us and vows to solve them as a whole, the president is in fact abandoning most of his program, at least for the time being.”

“A major theme of Obama's 2006 book The Audacity of Hope is impa­tience with "the smallness of our politics" and its "partisanship and acri­mony." He expresses frustration at how "the tumult of the sixties and the subsequent backlash continues to drive our political discourse," “

“Obama will have to directly attack the fortified bastion of the newest "new class" - the makers of the paper economy in which he came of age - if he is to accomplish anything. These interests did not spend fifty year shipping the greatest industrial economy in the history of the world over­seas only to be challenged by a newly empowered, green-economy working class. They did not spend much of the past two decades gobbling up previ­ously public sectors such as health care, education, and transportation only to have to compete with a reinvigorated public sector. They mean, even now, to use the bailout to make the government their helpless junior partner, and if they can they will devour every federal dollar available to recoup their own losses, and thereby preclude the use of any monies for the rest of Barack Obama's splendid vision.”

This is precisely the topic of one my blog columns last week (Old Lessons Need to Be Rebottled) as well as of my article published in The Gazette a few weeks ago. I did not go as far as Kevin Baker (I am still hoping that Obama will succeed) and I am not enough of an historian to make a comparison with Hoover but the spirit of our remarks are exactly the same.

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I feel everything Bush and Obama did (or Obama is threatening to do) is completely wrong.

    For myself, if this proves incorrect, I will never be more glad to be wrong.

    But I don't believe I am.