Reports from the field: Early critiques of President Obama

A Wall Street Journal editorial opened with a bang again yesterday as it reported an Obama claim followed by the paper’s total refutation of that claim. In “Dukes of Moral Hazard, Re-default rates are 55% after six months,” the Journal noted:

“President Obama yesterday announced his plan to prevent home foreclosures, saying he wanted to be ‘very clear about what this plan will not do: It will not rescue the unscrupulous or irresponsible by throwing good taxpayer money after bad loans . . . And it will not reward folks who bought homes they knew from the beginning they would never be able to afford.’

We really do wish he were right. In fact, the details released yesterday suggest the President’s plan will do all of the above. The plan will help some struggling homeowners. But by investing in failure, the Administration will also prolong the housing downturn and make financing a home purchase more difficult for future borrowers. Meanwhile, the plan isn’t likely to slow the continuing decline in housing prices.”

The good thing about the above disagreement is that we’re eventually going to find out which side is right. The bad news is that unless the Republican Party gets its act together by building an organization committed to principle, the Dems won’t be punished by voters for the economic mess they continue to muddle through and exacerbate.

Also on the economy, John Stossel’s column “Real Jobs Create Wealth” addressed an important point that in my view isn’t getting enough attention and that is – the fundamental concept of the creation of wealth. Creating jobs is not difficult for government, Stossel writes, but:

“What is difficult for government is creating jobs that produce wealth. Pyramids, holes in the ground and war do not produce wealth. They destroy wealth. They take valuable resources and convert them into something less valuable.

Instead of iPods, great art, cures for diseases and machines that replace back-breaking work, we get the equivalent of digging holes and filling them up.

Under President Obama’s ‘stimulus’ plan, jobs will be created to weatherize buildings, construct schools and wind turbines, and repair roads and bridges. But outside the market process, there is no way to know whether those are better uses of scarce capital than whatever would have been produced had it been left in the private economy.”

In the piece, Stossel referred to this 1939 quote by President Franklin Roosevelt’s treasury secretary Henry Morgenthau that is getting a lot of attention of late:

“We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong … somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises … I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started … And an enormous debt to boot!”

Turning to foreign policy, Victor Davis Hanson hasn’t let up on Mr. Obama since the inauguration. Some of the most hard-hitting commentary has come from Mr. Hanson, a classicist and military historian. Here are a few of his more recent and must-read articles:

It Isn’t Easy Being a Saint

Hope He Can Change

More on the New Horizon

In a piece yesterday titled “An ‘Impulsive’ America?” he wrote:

“European governments in France, Germany, Italy and most of Eastern Europe have long been pro-American. India is friendly; so is most of Asia. Africa has received billions of dollars in recent American help to combat AIDS.

These friends of ours, despite their serial complaining about the U.S., may privately be worrying that a kinder, more eloquent antithesis to George Bush will lead to too much dialogue and not enough leadership. After all, the agendas of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il, the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, Vladimir Putin and other roguish leaders transcend the Bush presidency…

True, it is wise to drop the unnecessary smoke-’em out dead-or-alive lingo that sometimes characterized the Bush administration. But it would be foolish to reject many of its successful initiatives simply because they were poorly articulated or sometimes couched in unfortunate tough-guy rhetoric.”

So far, watching the Obama Administration translate its campaign rhetoric into governing reality is like watching a train wreck. These next three years promise to be both painful and entertaining.

The above three examples are only the tip of one day’s iceberg. Republicans won’t have anyone to blame but themselves if they don’t do the hard work of rebuilding a party that can win back a majority of the voting public.