Any column by David Brooks that contains the words “my dream Obama” cannot end well.
My main complaint with Obama is that he promised to move us beyond these stale debates, but he’s, instead, become a participant in them.
My dream Obama would take advantage of the fact that only the president can fundamentally shift the terms. He’d take advantage of George Santayana’s observation that Americans don’t solve their problems; they leave them behind.
My dream Obama would abandon the big government versus small government argument. He’d point out that in a mature, aging society, government isn’t going anywhere. The issue is not size but sclerosis. The future has no lobby, so there are inexorable pressures favoring present consumption over future investment. The crucial point is not whether a dollar is spent publicly or privately, it’s whether it is spent on the present or future. The task today is to reform institutions and rearrange spending so we look like a young nation and not a comfort-seeking, declining one.
Except that when the other players in the game are people like Ted Cruz who are bringing back McCarthyism and Lindsey Graham who are filibustering the nomination of the Secretary of Defense because of hurt fee-fees, getting anything done is just a dream.