NRO’s Brian Bolduc has a report on President Obama’s rival in Arkansas’s Democratic presidential primary, John Wolfe:
The main problem with Obama’s presidency, Wolfe argues, is that the chief executive has merely “ratified institutional failures.” The corrupt government in Afghanistan? “He expanded our commitment to it.” Our expensive health-care system? “He made a deal to protect Big Pharma.” The irresponsible lending on Wall Street? “He perpetuated ‘too big to fail.’”
And the reason for Obama’s failure to change Washington stems from his personnel: He surrounds himself with bankers, such as former chief of staff Bill Daley (JP Morgan) and current head staffer Jack Lew (Citibank).
“We need someone who will represent the people, not just bankers,” Wolfe concludes. “He doesn’t visit the South that much, either. He needs to show more concern here.”
What is interesting about Wolfe’s criticisms of the president is that (a) they are surprisingly coherent and (b) they are likely to resonate with a broad swathe of the public, yet Republicans rarely make these criticisms in these potent ways. Conservative politicians are disinclined to make a rent-seeking critique of the new health law because they are more comfortable with a critique rooted in spending levels. They tend not to have convincing alternatives regarding how we might approach the political economy challenges that arise from state-guided hyperfinancialization (partly because, like most human beings, myself included, they generally don’t have a sophisticated understanding of the underlying issues). And it is awkward for the post-Bush GOP to make a forthright case against “doubling down” on Hamid Karzai for the obvious reason that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is very much a Republican legacy.
Nevertheless, Wolfe has given us a glimpse at a different kind of conservative campaign message, centered on the (bipartisan) institutional failures that have sapped America’s vitality.