Saturday :: Jul 22, 2006

Risky Bet


by Mary

Kevin Drum doesn't buy the argument that smart politicians place risky bets:

I find this unconvincing, in much the same way that I find almost all "two cushion bank shot" theories of political strategy unconvincing. Hindsight often makes such theories plausible, but bin Laden aside, the fact is that even the smartest political leaders rarely have either the subtlety or the guts to hang their future on a risky bet that a series of counterintuitive, low-probability events will all turn out just right.

Let's go back in the wayback machine to those days before Bush pulled the trigger on his war of choice to see what this says about our glorious leader.

What is Bush's morning in America? He clearly has the instinct to do big things, and barring some failure of leadership -- a serious misadventure abroad, a corroding economy -- he has the license. What does America look like if he succeeds?

...What Bush is striving for, on the evidence of the choices he has made so far, is bold in its ambition: markets unleashed, resources exploited. A progressive tax system leveled, a country unashamed of wealth. Government entitlements gradually replaced by thrift, self-reliance and private good will. The safety net strung closer to the ground. Government itself infused with, in some cases supplanted by, the efficiency and accountability of a well-run corporation. A court system dedicated to protecting property and private enterprise and enforcing individual responsibility. A global common market that hums to the tune of American productivity. In the world, America rampant -- unfettered by international law, unflinching when challenged, unmatchable in its might, more interested in being respected than in being loved.

If he fails, my guess is that it will be a failure not of caution but of overreaching, which means it will be failure on a grand scale. If he succeeds, he will move us toward an America Ronald Reagan would have been happy to call his own.

Me thinks that perhaps Kevin should have said that only the craziest political leaders have "the guts to hang their future on a risky bet that a series of counterintuitive, low-probability events will all turn out just right".

Personally, I'm still angry that Bill Keller was so sanguine that it would all be such a glorious and exciting game. Yes, indeedy. It's been a glorious game for the troops that have lost their lifes, on those that sustained tremendous damage, on the Iraqis that have had their country turned into a deadly bloodbath, on the people of the gulf coast that lost their lifes so his friends could make a mint, on our country that is on the verge of bankruptcy. But, you know. It was pretty exciting to see him wage that bet, right?

Mary :: 11:00 PM :: Comments (9) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!