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Mar 3

Written by: Diana West
Tuesday, March 03, 2009 5:57 AM 

Say it ain't so: The Messiah-in-Chief doesn't walk on water?

Apparently not, according to the NYT's David Brooks, whose column today is an exercise in wiping away the pixie dust from his eyes--or some of it, anyway. Describing himself as a "moderate conservative" who sympathizes with O and likes "his investments in education and energy innovation" and supports "health care reform that expands coverage while reducing costs," Brooks writes:

But the Obama budget is more than just the sum of its parts. There is, entailed in it, a promiscuous unwillingness to set priorities and accept trade-offs. There is evidence of a party swept up in its own revolutionary fervor — caught up in the self-flattering belief that history has called upon it to solve all problems at once.

Wait a minute. Just last month--or was it just last week?--DB was still trying to calm his own nerves over Obamanian excess with this kind of thing: "The people around Mr. Obama are smart and sober," he wrote. "Their plans are bold but seem supple and chastened by a realistic sensibility." Just not any more, I guess. He explains:

So programs are piled on top of each other and we wind up with a gargantuan $3.6 trillion budget. We end up with deficits that, when considered realistically, are $1 trillion a year and stretch as far as the eye can see. We end up with an agenda that is unexceptional in its parts but that, when taken as a whole, represents a social-engineering experiment that is entirely new.

The U.S. has never been a society riven by class resentment. Yet the Obama budget is predicated on a class divide. The president issued a read-my-lips pledge that no new burdens will fall on 95 percent of the American people. All the costs will be borne by the rich and all benefits redistributed downward.

The U.S. has always been a decentralized nation, skeptical of top-down planning. Yet, the current administration concentrates enormous power in Washington, while plan after plan emanates from a small group of understaffed experts.

The U.S. has always had vibrant neighborhood associations. But in its very first budget, the Obama administration raises the cost of charitable giving. It punishes civic activism and expands state intervention.

The U.S. has traditionally had a relatively limited central government. But federal spending as a share of G.D.P. is zooming from its modern norm of 20 percent to an unacknowledged level somewhere far beyond.

Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was.

Come again?

Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was.

That's what I thought he said. Well, dear colleague, it's not as if the information wasn't out there, old buddy, old pal...He goes on:

His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice....

Well, them's fightin' words, at least for a "moderate-conservative."

Moderates now find themselves betwixt and between. On the left, there is a president who appears to be, as Crook says, “a conviction politician, a bold progressive liberal.” On the right, there are the Rush Limbaugh brigades. The only thing more scary than Obama’s experiment is the thought that it might fail and the political power will swing over to a Republican Party that is currently unfit to wield it.

Correction: Nothing is more scary than Obama's experiment. My hope is that, like a baptism by fire, it toughens, hardens and strengthens sloppy GOP pols  into principled conservative leaders.

Those of us in the moderate tradition — the Hamiltonian tradition that believes in limited but energetic government — thus find ourselves facing a void. We moderates are going to have to assert ourselves.

Watch out for the anti-Reagans.

We’re going to have to take a centrist tendency that has been politically feckless and intellectually vapid and turn it into an influential force.

That's a moderately influential force, right?

 

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