I just listened to a replay of today's "Meet the Press" on the radio, at least the roundtable. All talk was about the Democrat race: blacks have come far; Clintons have fallen farther. It struck me that the pundits--liberal Democrats all--seemed to have forgotten that another vote happens in November. Instead of deep analysis of the McCain-Obama face-off, Andrea Mitchell and Tim Russert were handicapping Obama's cabinet picks.
Late in the segment, the team returned from 2009 as conversation turned to Hillary as veep. "No way" was the consensus, relying heavily on David Broder's logic: Obama must demonstrate that he is his own man by rejecting Hillary just as Reagan rejected a Blue Blood Republican attempt to install Gerald Ford as Reagan's running mate in 1980.
No year in my life has so resembled a previous year as 2008 resembles 1976. Both the American and world economies are threatened by spiraling oil prices, talk of shortages, and the need for alternative fuels. As in 1976, in the shadow of Love Canal, the environment is now the left's favorite tool in its perpetual scheme to destroy capitalism and replace it with a soviet paradise. And Americans seem ready to turn to far left liberalism in both domestic and foreign policy to solve these problems.
The economy's handlers--the Fed, Congress, investment banks, institutional investors--are hamstrung by their own actions and greed. Like his predecessor in 2000, Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, overestimated the economy's strength in 2006 and early 2007. By the time he started cutting interest rates, the economy was headed south.
The White House and Congress, pre-occupied with micro-managing the Army in Iraq, also missed its cue. Most Americans, myself included, still don't have the stimulus check. By the time it arrives, it will pay for necessities, not the luxuries that actually fuel the economic engine in America these days.
In the meantime, the fed has cut interest rates so low that it has little or no room for further cuts. Even if it does cut further, there is no indication that oil and gasoline prices (followed by food prices) will not rise to absorb any additional cash in the economy. One could argue that the recent surge in oil and gas prices (to $138 a barrel and $4 a gallon, respectively) is a direct result of the stimulus package. If so, by my calculations, those prices will increase another 20 percent each after the last check arrives.
The jump in unemployment to 5.5 percent from 5.0 percent in May is only the latest symptom of these economic problems. Others will follow. In the 1970s, we had "stagflation," a combination of high inflation (12 percent) and a stagnant economy. We also had a "misery index" that measured inflation+unemployment, often over 20. The usual market balancers failed, largely because of high taxation, increasing regulation and interest rates that were too high to stimulate growth but too low to choke inflation. At that time, fuel and food were included in the inflation number, but we stopped counting those staples in the 1980s. If you put them back, inflation is running at 12 percent a year.
In 1976, we were worried about a coming ice age, littering, and smoke stacks. Today we're worrying about universal tropics, water shortages, and smoke stacks. According to environmentalists, the massive restrictions in human freedom wrought by three decades of environmental activism have made matters worse. Jerry Ford was almost as ecological (as we called it then) as was Jimmy Carter. John McCain is almost as green as Barack Obama. Either man will institute regulations and taxes that will further the damage a weak economy and handicap a healthy one.
The good news is that the plebiscitary spasm about the environment will end when people need to find work and shelter. The bad news is that Congress and Presidents won't need to find work or shelter until after a couple of election cycles. That means that misguided environmental policies inspired by non-science promoted by the fraudsters Al Gore and Michael Mann will put more people out of work and out on the streets until Bobby Jindal takes the oath of office on January 20, 2013.
Every so often, the American electorate becomes lib-curious. It happened in the 1970s, the 1960s, the 1930s, and whenever Woodrow Wilson ran for President. This is not a permanent condition. It builds until a true liberal gains the White House and has Democrat accomplices in both houses of Congress. Most times, the people give the Dems 4 years to really screw things up. (Clinton was a quasi-liberal, but in 1994 we were still smart enough to recognize a bad thing and returned the House and Senate the GOP.)
This year, I expect the race between Obama and McCain to look a whole lot like Carter-Ford in 1976. By Labor Day, Obama will have a seemingly insurmountable lead. By October 31, that lead will be less than 5. By election day, it will be too close to call. By noon the next day, Obama will emerge victorious and the Democrats will widen their margins in the House and Senate.
By this time next year, the people will ask for a Mulligan.