Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Cinch Review

The exceptionalism backlash

Rich Lowry makes some great observations on the reaction of the American electorate to this past year of the Obama presidency and Democratic control in Washington that are not at all incompatible with my own from the other day (Rights versus “Benefits”). Lowry writes:

President Barack Obama learned from Bill Clinton’s mistakes in 1993-94. He ran, relative to Clinton, a buttoned-up transition. He sought to avoid Clinton’s tactical miscues on health care. And he steered clear of cultural land mines.

The backlash against Democrats in 1994 was famously attributed to “gays, guns and God.” Obama has mostly avoided stoking opposition around that hot-button triad, but faces a backlash almost indistinguishable in feel and intensity. Why?

Big government became a cultural issue. The level of spending, the bailouts and the intervention in the economy contemplated in health-care reform and cap-and-trade created the fear that something elemental was changing in the country — quickly, irrevocably, without notice.

Obama has run up against the country’s cultural conservatism as surely as Clinton did. But Obama is encountering its fiscal expression, the sense that America has always been defined by a more stringently limited government than other advanced countries. It’s an “American exceptionalism” backlash.

The Cinch Review

Something to dwell upon

On another blog I just picked the album From Langley Park to Memphis by Prefab Sprout as “one of the essential but non-obvious albums of the 1980s” so I thought I’d post one of the essential but non-obvious songs from it, titled Enchanted. (Actually, it’s taken me 22 years to let this little slice of Brit-pop-soul, or whatever you want to call it, get under my skin, so I’d say that’s very non-obvious indeed.)

Here’s something to dwell upon
Now we’re living, next we’re gone

So if you’ve love please pass it on

’Cos it’s a disbelieving world
But sensitive as any girl …


The Cinch Review

Mr. President (Obama): Have Pity On The Working Man

PrezNow, I know that Randy Newman is some kind of darned liberal, and (based on media reports I’ve seen) was quite recently in possession of a very fine case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. I don’t like him for his politics, but I do genuinely enjoy his artful and ironic way with a song. And all I know is that his song Mr. President (written around 1974, but with something of an aura of 1934) has never been a more relevant and sharply-aimed arrow than it is at this very moment. Today, President Barack Obama, in the face of so much incredulity — on both sides of the aisle, mind you — and in the face of so much frustration on the part of average Americans, continues to pursue his ideological goal of getting the hands of the federal government firmly around the U.S. health-care system. On this particular day he is doing it by means of a televised “summit” with Democrats and Republicans from Congress, as if all of the issues have not had more than their due airing over the past 13 months and more; as if he has just not had sufficient time to make his arguments. He persists in this vein while the U.S economy continues to descend in its death spiral, with real working Americans (and once working Americans) continuing to suffer in ever greater numbers, and with no real recovery even in sight. Continue reading Mr. President (Obama): Have Pity On The Working Man