A year and a half into the Obama presidency, I, as neither Republican nor Democrat, am struck by how much he resembles not Jimmy Carter, as conservatives like to say, or FDR, as liberals prefer, but his immediate predecessor — and not just in similarly pursuing certain unfortunate policies, such as ballooning our national indebtedness, “nation-building,” and doomed military activities.
Both men have benefited from a highly biased core constituency, which regards its prez as “our kind of guy,” who is thought to do no wrong, and from whom much is expected — until such fans realize that they have stuck themselves with supporting a president whose activities they judge profoundly disagreeable. Just as Dubya failed on his promise to reform Social Security, so Obama failed to pull American troops out of Iraq and violated his pledge against secret dealings. The principal beneficiaries of the “stimulus” have so far been stock-market investors, who mostly vote Republican.
In its comparable girth of over 2,000 pages, Obama’s Health Care Reform Act resembles the Patriot Act in hiding a lot of government giveaways that would be objectionable if presented by themselves. (It was not for nothing that insurance-company stocks rose the day after it was passed.) Though commonly oblivious to (or protected from) dissent, both Obama and Dubya discovered that they lacked the political skills they thought they had, surviving not by their own genius but by the opposition’s temporary insufficiencies.
The fact that Obama and Dubya are fairly similar — in physical height as well as the aura insulating them from acknowledging disappointment — makes them almost indistinguishable to me, other physical dissimilarities notwithstanding. More predisposed to Obama than Dubya, I surprised myself with this perception in April 2010.