Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Jimmy Carter Effect

Barring some really bad governing, or really bad breaks, Obama is going to go down in history as an outstanding president. Every president in modern history who has followed a failed presidency and/or who has inherited a rugged set of challenges from his predecessor has except Nixon, who was on his way until he was derailed by Watergate. Looking at events, Obama has enjoyed an astonishing run of breaks, from the press corps winning his primary fight against Hillary for him to the economy collapsing just when his race against McCain was getting tough. And now he goes to office with multiple messes to clean up, and the hard work of convincing the public tough action needs to be taken is done for him. As a result, he's going to have an enormous mandate for change, putting things like an improved healthcare system, which should pay political dividends for the Democrats and real dividends for the country for many years, within his reach.

Just as Reagan got credit for the work Carter started on the economy by appointing Volcker, Obama is going to get credit for the work that was started under Bush. Bush deserves no credit for this, as it's his mess caused by the philosophy he cheered and whored for, and besides, I feel pretty certain that an Obama administration would have done a better job of cleaning things up than the job Bush's people have begun. And I don't mean to imply that Obama is a no-talent bum, because he clearly is talented and able. It's just that, looking at all the breaks that have gone Obama's way, I can't help but think of that old Rod Stewart song about some guys having all the luck.