“Why did God put Barack Obama on this earth?”
A question filled with promise in a branch of Christian theology called eschatology, but certainly not in a political essay by Mr. David Brooks, the doubtful might ask, if they weren't regular readers of his commentary. You, as reader of my thoughts, might say eschatology concerns the four questions: death, judgment,heaven and hell: my assertion leaves the question of God's purpose as blank as Mr. Brooks' sentence. How can anyone speculate on God's purpose with any degree of believability? Except perhaps theologians, but can you name a contemporary theologian? Or are these questions left to television preachers who fill the air waves with ponderous, self-aggrandizing chatter, heavenly garnished with admonishing scriptural references. Not to be out done by theological pretenders, Mr. Brooks opens his latest essay with a question of political theology that is unanswerable. The whole point of this opening sentence is to establish in the readers mind his moral seriousness, and to legitimize his standing as a pundit worthy of public attention. This in quest of shaping public debate about political issues.
Mr. Brooks moves from his momentous question of God's purpose for Mr. Obama to a self-serving yet totally preposterous reductive historical/political retelling of the Republican obstructionism since 2008.This selective retelling, a specific form of pragmatic Conservative amnesia, is the central leitmotif of the Brooks political narrative and it's clumsy revisionism. Mr. Brooks presents President Obama as a singular political actor, as if he was alone without political antagonists. This reflects the demands of rhetorical purpose rather than political reality. But the real motive of Mr. Brooks essay is to offer unsolicited political advice to President Obama. Three choices are offered by Mr. Brooks (he only sees three viable options for the President) for the next big crusade: global warming, reforming broken Capitalism, and Simpson-Bowles. The part on broken Capitalism is the most surprising, while still appearing within the bland mainstream vocabulary of 'reform':
“Second, broken capitalism. Obama could go before the convention and say that there has been a giant failure at the heart of modern capitalism. Even in good times, the wealth that modern capitalism generates is not being shared equitably. Workers are not seeing the benefits of their own productivity gains.
Obama could offer policies broad enough to address this monumental problem. He could vow to strengthen unions. He could promise to use federal funds to pay for 500,000 more teachers and two million more infrastructure jobs. He could cap the mortgage interest deduction, cap social security benefits, raise taxes on the rich, raise taxes on capital gains and embrace other measures to redistribute money from those who are prospering to those who are not. He could crack down on outsourcing and regulate trade. He could throw himself behind a new industrial policy to create manufacturing jobs.
This agenda wouldn’t appeal to moderates, or people like me, but it’s huge, it’s serious and it would highlight a real problem.”
I agree with everything but the Social Security cap, this almost qualifies as good advice!
On Simpson-Bowles: repair broken Capital and reinstate a vigorous Glass-Steagall designed for the 21st Century, while the country has a real debate about the deficit, not the carefully managed politics of the Neo-Liberal consensus of Simpson-Bowles.