My vehement post yesterday about Obama's indifference to crippling long-term debt has been viewed in some corners as my breaking up with my latest political crush. I hate to disappoint my friends on the right and left, but strong criticism of a president does not mean abandonment. Obama remains, in my view, the best chance we've had in a long time to address our real problems in a civil and constructive way. That's why he mattered and still matters. My post reflects a crushing disappointment in his fiscal unseriousness, while acknowledging its short-term political canniness.
My belief in balanced budgets and living within one's means is deeply entrenched. I attacked my idol Reagan over it; I gushed over Perot on that count (about the only one); I backed Bill Clinton's first, Eisenhower-style budget; I praised the Gingrich-Clinton surplus. But, from the get-go, I went after George W. Bush on fiscal matters and his indifference to deficit spending (unlike most of the Tea Partiers). I went ballistic over Medicare D and unfunded wars. I have been relentless in skepticism toward the Tea Party's alleged fiscal credentials. So why would it in any way be surprising that I would treat Obama the same way? I gave him leeway in the first two years because cutting spending in such a recession would not have helped. In my post yesterday, I support his distinction between investment and mere spending.