When a dog is chasing its tail, it might amuse the dog and it certainly amuses spectators but one can be pretty certain that the animal isn't likely to accomplish anything. Right now the Democrats seem to be chasing their own tails and they do not seem to be amusing themselves even if it gives me a laugh.
President Clinton, a man with a great future behind him, is right now the hottest act on the Democratic stage. From Philip Rucker at the Washington Post:
Bill Clinton is baffled. The former president's friends say he is in disbelief that in the closing weeks of the midterm campaigns Democrats have failed to articulate a coherent message on the economy and, worse, have allowed themselves to become "human pinatas."
So Clinton is deploying himself on a last-ditch, dawn-to-dusk sprint to rescue his beleaguered party. And as the only president in modern times who has balanced the federal budget, he is leveraging his credibility to become one of the most fierce defenders of President Obama's economic policies.
The spinning going on in that second paragraph is enough to make one reach for the wall with one hand and a bottle of Pepto Bismol with the other. Yes, to his credit, President Clinton balanced the budget. He did so with the help of a Republican Congress.
So now he is "leveraging his credibility" as a deficit hawk to defend the policies of a President who has signed onto deficits of well over a trillion dollars a year. He is rushing around the country to try to prevent the voters from giving President Obama the Republican majority that made his own fiscal policy possible. One wonders that the dog has not collapsed with exhaustion.
As for the first paragraph, this is one of the most familiar conceits of politicians. If only we had done a better job of articulating a coherent message on the economy, the voters would approve of our policies. If ever that is plausible, it fades into self-deception when the President has given scores of speeches over more than a year and the President's myriad allies in the Press have worn out laptop keyboards trying to articulate that message.
The problem we face is that our government, like those of our European allies, has been fiscally irresponsible for decades. Just right now the British government is trying to get its fiscal house in order. As one articulate back bencher put it, the previous government ran all out of "our money." What is the response of President Obama's allies in the press?
There is a time and a place for aggressive deficit reduction. Now is not the time, especially not in Britain.
One can only scratch one's head. Whenever did the New York Times call for "aggressive deficit reduction"? Now is never the time, and especially not, well, here. That paragon of honest economics, Paul Krugman, regards Britain's attempts to keep their state from going belly up financially as an unfortunate fashion statement. Fiscal responsibility is like wanting to wear a funny hat. Spending money so fast it would scare the salt off a drunken sailor, that's rational policy. Okay. It is not inconceivable that they might be right.
If they are, what sense does it make to send Bill Clinton out to rally the base on the strength of his record as a deficit hawk? It only makes sense if the Democrats know that the electorate does not believe what the party believes. The Democratic dog is chasing its tail.