Over here on stage left, we have been debating whether Obama’s pursuit of health care reform prevented him from getting a second stimulus in late 2009 or early 2010, the kind that would have prevented or at least mitigated the economic backslide took place afterwards. The main proponent of this claim is my colleague Noam Scheiber. To get a detailed version, you’ll have to read his book,The Escape Artists (which, by the way, you should do anyway). To get a more abbreviated version, you can read his latest entry at TNR.COM.
There is no Red America and there is no Blue America. Remember the first time you heard Barack Obama say that? I do. It was July, 2004, during the Democratic National Convention, when the young, skinny state senator from Illinois propelled himself into national politics. The speech was a harbinger. Finding common ground was a recurring theme of Obama’s 2008 campaign and, arguably, of his first two years in office, although it rarely turned out as the new president hoped.
In his new book, The Escape Artists, my TNR colleague Noam Scheiber makes the interesting argument that one problem with President Obama's economic team was that, in struggling to pull the U.S. economy out of recession, the Rubinites (i.e., Tim Geithner and Larry Summers) were fighting the last war. What the financial crises of the late 1990s taught Geithner, Summers, and other members of Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin's economic team, Scheiber argues, was to embrace the Powell doctrine. Just as Colin Powell had argued that the U.S.
My TNR colleague Noam Scheiber's new book, The Escape Artists: How Obama's Team Fumbled The Recovery, arrived today on my doorstep. I look forward to reading it; so far I've only had the chance to flip through. As a connoisseur of Washington book indexes, I judge Noam's very promising. Sometimes I think there ought to be awards for book index entries. The best ones are tantalizingly elliptical micro-narratives that practically demand to be recited aloud, like a poem.
Today is finally the day you can walk into a Barnes & Noble and pick up your copy of The Escape Artists—or, for that matter, simply order it on Amazon, no “pre-ordering” involved. On the off-chance you’d like to know what you’re getting into beforehand, The New York Times has a review of the book in today’s paper, and The Huffington Post has written about it here and here.
So I might have just finished writing a book yesterday, but I wasn’t born yesterday. And yet my colleagues are trying to persuade me that a guy with the same name as the former House Speaker is the front-runner for the GOP nomination. Strikes me as wildly implausible—I mean, what are the chances? Anyway, I’ll get to the bottom of it and report back.