Worse than empty rhetoric?

A small portrait of the translator

January 13, 2009 @ 18:52 UTC

Written by

Barack Obama
Economy & Trade

Krugman warns that 40% of Obama's $775 billion rescue plan is just tax cuts, and this package is not likely going to be sufficient to avert a prolonged recession. Krugman alluded to “. . . the gap between Mr. Obama’s stern economic rhetoric and his somewhat disappointing economic plan”:

“I don’t believe it’s too late to change course, but it will be if we don’t take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years.”

So declared President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday, explaining why the nation needs an extremely aggressive government response to the economic downturn. He’s right. This is the most dangerous economic crisis since the Great Depression, and it could all too easily turn into a prolonged slump.

The one thing that put me off about Obama the primary candidate — think back to the spring of 2008 — was Obama's use of rousing rhetoric for the mere sake rousing supporters. It was soaring rhetoric indeed, but rhetoric that appeared not to carry any real substance with it.

But I thought that as the election campaign geared up, Obama became far more concrete and substantive — especially in contrast to his Republican opponents.

Although I remain guardedly optimistic about the Obama presidency, Krugman's observation seems cause for some concern. That which wears thin in a primary candidate, could prove to be intolerable in a president.

Mainly, however, I'm discouraged. It occurs to me that Obama might not have the guts to do what this economic crisis calls for. He might not be a real leader at all. If Obama is not willing to do the right thing — but elects to pursue only the politically easy option at a time like this — despite having a resounding mandate for change during this hour of financial crisis, the Obama presidency is likely to disappoint almost everyone.

  • More original articles

  • Comments are closed