I was a history major. One of my favorite quotes from studying history was the widely repeated warning, “Those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it.”
Dick Morris, a former advisor to President Bill Clinton, was on O’Reilly tonight, talking about President Obama’s first two weeks in office. He drew a number of parallels: both Clinton and Obama ran into problems with cabinet appointments who hadn’t paid their taxes, both had a big stimulus package (Clinton’s was $35 billion… how quaint, huh?) they were trying to shove through, both had both houses of Congress on their side, and neither could get the stimulus package through because of all of the pork stuffed into it.
And then Clinton’s wonderful approval ratings dropped. Badly.
O’Reilly said something about Obama’s approval ratings dropping already. According to Rasmussen, the president’s approval ratings are down and his disapproval ratings are up. Support for the stimulus package is dropping steadily, and it wasn’t that popular to begin with.
Add all this to a distinct lack of the “most ethical administration ever” (as of tonight, we’re up to- what?- five major appointees with huge tax problems?) and one has to wonder how fast those approval numbers can continue to drop. Shouldn’t President Obama have learned something from Clinton’s experience? Morris seems to strongly suspect that the president isn’t heeding that warning about learning from history.
And, I would add, it’s a strange kind of “change” that looks so suspiciously similar to the last Democratic administration:
- the Clintons are back as the joint Secretary of State (the left wing news sites are thrilled about Bill meeting with Putin for ninety minutes. My question is, why the heck is a private citizen meeting with foreign officials on an official visit? Former presidents (even those married to the new Secretary of State) are not de facto ambassadors without proper appointment, last I checked.)
- the press director (Panetta) is back as the CIA director nominee (because they’re both about information control, right? Yeah, that just makes tons of sense.)
- the deputy attorney general is back as the attorney general, in spite of problems with his involvement in some of Clinton’s more questionable presidential pardons
When you campaign on little more than “Change!”, the problem is, once you’re elected, you have just become the status quo, no matter what you do. Playing politics, paying off the special interests who bankrolled your election, etc. doesn’t help.
The crowd is fickle. They love change. And once off the constantly shifting sands of the campaign trail and into office, nobody can actually change fast enough to keep them satisfied.
I would add to the more famous quote my own corollary: Those who do not understand statistics are doomed to subjugation by those who manipulate statistics.
Don’t get me wrong; statistics can be useful. As G.K. Chesterton said, though, “Most men use statistics like a drunk uses a lamppost: more for support than for illumination.” And politically charged statistics are the worst kind.
I understand the Speaker Pelosi is worried about American jobs. “Every month that we don’t pass a stimulus package, 500 million Americans lose their jobs…” she said. Yes, that’s right! How awful! The President has called for action, so let’s move, right now, no more questions! We have statistics, so get in line and shut up!
Except that there are only a little over 300 million Americans.
Does that mean my husband has been losing his job seven times a month, since the kids aren’t old enough to lose their own jobs yet? I don’t seem to remember that happening…