Thursday, June 02, 2011

Doing The Smart Thing

Paul Krugman posted on Monday four things that President Obama is doing “wrong,” and in each case stated the reason that Obama is doing what he is doing. In no case is the reason that he gave one that Obama has stated, so he apparently claims the ability to read minds, a trait which he shares with most political writers. Typically, the motives he assigns are those of basic political maneuvering, which is certainly possible.

Briefly, the first three things he criticizes are Obama’s unwillingness to take short term political risks to achieve long term economic goals (stimulus spending primarily), using half measures (stimulus spending again), and “adopting the positions of the opponents” (tax cuts). In his critique he implies that Obama knows that he, Krugman, is correct on all of the policies that he, Obama, should be implementing, but simply lacks the willpower, or courage, or something, necessary to carry them out.

It never seems to occur to him that Obama might not agree with him entirely. Maybe Obama thinks that the measures he is implementing actually are the correct size. He did not, after all, name Paul Krugman to his cabinet, and maybe there was a reason for that. Maybe Barack Obama thinks, as I do, that Paul Krugman’s ideas carried out fully would be the equivalent of taking a huge pile of cash and setting fire to it.

Maybe Barack Obama believes that there realistically is very little that the government can accomplish toward creating long term real jobs, sees nothing to be gained by creating additional deficit in a futile attempt to do so, and thinks the government should go about doing what it can reasonably and effectively actually do.

I don’t know of anyone who has claimed that Barack Obama is stupid. Evil has been asserted, certainly, and Paul Krugman has implied occasionally that he is stupid, but most people seem to think, as I certainly do, that Barack Obama is about the smartest president that we have had in many years. So maybe what he’s doing is smart, or at least what he thinks is smart. I’m not saying that is the case, but it’s certainly as possible as Paul Krugman’s theory.

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