That seems to be the Obama game plan:
White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel gave the game away back in November with his observation that:
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before. This is an opportunity…And this crisis provides the opportunity for us, as I would say, the opportunity to do things that you could not do before.”
Emanuel even helpfully specified the issues where the opportunity would be most helpful to the new administration – “health care area, energy area, education area, fiscal area, tax area, regulatory reform area – things that we had postponed for too long that were long-term are now immediate and must be dealt with.”
Initially, Emanuel’s disturbing words were dismissable as just his own, but the president himself and most recently Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have since repeated variations on the theme. So it is clearly the Obama strategy to use the current economic crisis as justification for his radical agenda.
Call it policy-making by perpetual crisis.
This is a not a new phenomena in the political world, of course. One need look no further than North Korea’s “Dear Leader,” with his constant invocation of the illusory threat of U.S. military invasion to keep his suffering people in their chains.
Kim Jong il is not unique, only the most bald-faced about using real or manufactured threats to justify his dictatorial policies. Other examples from history quickly come to mind, including communist titans like Stalin and Mao continually warning of “imperialist aggressors” from the capitalist West.
What is different now is that we’ve never before seen an American president so explicitly invoke this strategy of using a domestic crisis to achieve long-term domestic policy goals.
Well, I’m not sure it’s unprecedented, but it is extremely dismaying.
Carl Pham proposed an interesting thought experiment yesterday in comments, that complements mine, in which I asked what the administration would be doing differently if they were deliberately trying to tank the economy:
I bet if the entire Obama Administration and Democratic Congressional Leadership were sentenced to hang on December 1, 2009, if the stock market were not above 9000 and unemployment were not below 7%, they would become raging tax-cutting pro-business libertarians overnight.
That is, I don’t believe they are so stupid and deluded as to believe their own hogwash right down to their core. They know very well they’re hanging a millstone around the economy’s neck, costing jobs and punishing capital markets. But they don’t care. They have ambitions — more government power for themselves, better status and pay for their supporters — and they actually don’t care that a bunch of plumbers and HVAC men are going to pay for it with their jobs, 401k’s, life savings invested in the new house. Can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, y’know.
I think it’s a good bet. Unfortunately, we won’t get to find out. Also unfortunately, the electoral consequences are far more uncertain.
[Update a couple minutes later]
Instapundit has an appropriate quote from Milton:
Chaos Umpire sits, And by decision more imbroils the fray. By which he Reigns.
We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.
[Update at noon]
As Mr. Henninger points out, this is no ordinary budget: it is a morality play in which “fairness” (note the scare quotes)is pitted against “wealth.”
…So here we are then. Our prince has come. The dragon, Wealth, has been put to the sword, and everyone is gathered downstage to await the finale. It turns out, though, that many who bought tickets thought this entertainment was a species of Romance or Comedy that had a happy ending. Others of us knew that wasn’t what was advertised and said so. I suspect this particular drama is going to have a very limited run.
I hope so. I fear that it won’t.