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The politics of gambling [Apr. 30th, 2009|11:46 am]
[Current Location |work]
[Current Mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]

I rarely watch TV news and when I do I tend to catch BBCAmerica's version of the BBC World News report.  It's refreshingly low on dancing baloney, focused on facts, and detatched from the clowns-on-acid circus that is network news coverage in this country.  The anchor Matt Frei is everything I'd expect from BBC:  dapper, calm, and straightforward.  I discovered today that he has a blog.  This entry set me back on my heels a bit:


The comparison between Dubya's snipe hunt for WMD and Obama's big gamble with restarting the economy* may be fair if viewed from a non-partisan stance.  I don't claim to be completely non-partisan so I'll won't try to weigh in on that.  However, the entry really made me think about 2 things (and I'm really struggling to be objective here):

1--CAN we morally equate the gamble of the invasion of Iraq and "search for WMD" (which arguably had a similar goal:  to strengthen our economy by securing significant oil interests for the US in the Middle East, and which, if any had been found, would probably have played out much differently for Mr. Bush) with the Obama's current gamble (throw a good portion of the national budget under the treads of the juggernaut that is our economy and hope it gives us enough traction to get over the crest of the hill)?

Personally, I don't think I can because of the cost in human life.  Obama's gamble, if it fails, MAY cost lives (if the goverment goes bankrupt, services that would otherwise have saved lives may be cut, for example).  Certainly if Obama DIDN'T try, people would/will die.  However, Bush's gamble was certain to cause deaths, either way it went**  (and as we now see, has caused the deaths of many people, of many nationalities, and leaves us in a quagmire with no clear advantage gained except for some multinationals)

That's the other reason I don't think they equate.  I think Dubya's economic goal was much shorter-term and closer to home (for himself and his cronies).  And THAT is simply inexcusable.  But, that's my liberal colors showing.

2--Can every American Presidency be defined by some "big gamble" whose success or failure colors everything else they do and how they're percieved by posterity?

I'm not sure about this as a theory.  I can't really identify Clinton's big gamble (although cheekiness prompts me to suggest it was his lawyerly interpretations under questioning during the Ken Starr investigtion--even though he should never have been asked those questions).  Most of the ones I can think of were in the face of far darker consequences (FDR's social welfare innovations, Truman bombing Japan)

Anyway, my hat's off to Mr. Frei.  He certainly made me think.

*This resonates interestingly with things I'm absorbing from Fifty Degrees Below (novel by Kim Stanley Robinson).

**Although it's just occurred to me to wonder whether the whole thing wasn't meant to stave off (warmachines being known economic stimulators) the current economic crisis.  I've heard (can't think of any cites at present) that it doesn't work as well anymore, due to the increasingly high-tech-supported nature of combat.