Notes of a Reporter at Large • 06-28-12 PDF  | Print |  E-mail
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Thursday, 28 June 2012 14:35

Of This ’n That

By Mel Lavine

Special to the Times

This column originally appeared on July 15, 2010

Manual labor was once honored, but in this day and age it is much demeaned and left to immigrants, legal, illegal, or whatever. Are we not in danger of becoming a nation of hedge funds, iPods, and hot air?)

* * *

When I went to high school more than 50 years ago a kid with a talent for working with his hands could look forward to a rewarding life, owning a home, and a vacation place and a boat, and looking forward to a comfortable retirement.. Nowadays those prospects seem quaint if not antediluvian.

* * *

And now to politics:

David Axelrod, a close adviser to Obama, has said the White House was not trying to shift blame with its frequent invocation of the “mess” it had inherited from George W. Bush, but to seek public patience for policies that may require months and in some cases years to pay dividends.

Said Axelrod, “Whatever problems he (Obama) inherited walking in the door, they’re his responsibility now. Nobody’s trying to duck responsibility or make excuses for them. But it is important at times to put it into perspective, not to fix blame but to underscore that some of these problems are complex and they’re going to take time to resolve.”

The Republicans shot back that blaming the guy who came before doesn’t work long. But in fact it has. The classic example is FDR. In 1936, when he was running for re-election, Roosevelt reminded voters of the sorry state the country was in when he took charge in the worst days of the “Great Hoover Depression.” Reminding voters of the failures of the Hoover years helped the Democrats keep possession of the White House for 20 years.

Taking his cue from FDR, Ronald Reagan blamed Jimmy Carter for passing on a lackluster economy in 1980. Bill Clinton  blamed his predecessor, the first president Bush, for the flat economy in 1992.

Obama has a case to make as good as FDR’s. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of the middle and working classes, and giving Wall Street a pass to plunder, plus an unprovoked war, led the way to the historic deficits.

Now, less than two years since the 2008 election, the polls show Democrats, and the president, taking most of the heat for the slumping economy. It doesn’t add up. But the “Party of No” has cruelly and hypocritically exploited the misery of our times.

* * *

About the enactment of stronger reforms on Wall Street. Paul Volker, the former savvy Fed chairman, is concerned about the legislation, already approved by the House and likely to be approved soon by the Senate, and which Obama is ready to sign into law. Volker still thinks it gives banks too much room to finagle. Not a pretty thing to comtemplate.

Mel Lavine was a television producer for many years with NBC News and CBS News in New York. Contact him at his e-mail address: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



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