Conrad Black: Two Cheers for Obama

tags: Barack Obama, Conrad Black, National Review, State of the Union



Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of FreedomRichard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, and the recently published A Matter of Principle. He can be reached at cbletters@gmail.com.

What a pleasure it is, in the wake of Presidents’ Day, to write something upbeat about President Obama. As disappointing as I found his second inaugural address, I am pleased to disagree with commentators from right to left who found fault with his State of the Union message last week. I thought it was pretty good. For the first time in my observations, he actually seemed to take the deficit seriously, though he could not avoid recourse to refuge in his old mouse-hole of the serried ranks of unnamed economists “who say we need $4 trillion in deficit reduction to stabilize our finances.” I don’t believe there are such economists; they are the flip side of the “economic royalists, monopolists, and war profiteers” that FDR used to rail against in the Thirties, to the delight of his followers. (There were no war profiteers or “malefactors of great wealth” in the U.S. in the Thirties. But it was a convenient cul-de-sac into which he could sweep public anger, where it could harmlessly dissipate itself — though it still rankles with the contemporary nincompoop Right, which holds that FDR didn’t alleviate the Depression but won four straight terms through electoral flimflam.)

To President Obama’s phantom gallery of economists is imputed the view that if the country cuts just $400 billion a year from what the deficit will be if no changes are made to taxing and spending, for ten years, all will be well. No, it won’t: The accumulated deficit, which was $10 trillion four years ago, and is $17 trillion today, will be $27 trillion in ten years on that scenario, and, in the words of Douglas MacArthur (referring to nuclear war), “Armageddon will be at our door.”...



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