From today’s NY Times: Cautious on Growth, Bernanke Offers No Hint of New Action.
Great Recession…Great Depression. Whatever the term of art that’s being used to describe the financial fragility that’s been happening since 2009, it’s clear that this economic event has happened in a politically unique time. That’s not to say that FDR didn’t have his troubles in getting New Deal legislation enacted, but he was a president who was much more bold than Obama. The crisis was clear (as it is now), but the reaction is quite different. The majority who elected Barack Obama to office in 2008 hoped that he would be a transformative leader, but the reality was that he’s a centrist who wanted to transform Washington D.C. by going back to an era when Democrats and Republicans actually worked on legislation, drank together, became friends — but sometimes voted against each other.
Obama had rose colored glasses on, and didn’t understand the depth of hatred toward him. I think he understands it now, but it’s tough to negotiate with people whose idea of consensus is: “agree to my non-negotiable terms.”
Ben Bernanke is another guy who has the power to be transformative figure, but can’t seem to bring himself to do so — even though the guy has made his academic mark by being a student of the Great Depression. He doesn’t seem to realize that he’s a political actor who can influence events — and is not a cautious academic who needs to study the problem.
So…you have two men who are centrist and cautious battling an opposition whose idea of “winning” is the burn the village so they can save it. In short, it’s the right-wing nihilists against consensus builders. Until some voters stop electing the crazies — while expecting governance — we’re going to continue with “reality show” politics where the more outlandish behavior is rewarded.