Not long ago, I saw a poll advertised. It asked the question: "Whom do you blame for the economic meltdown?" There were pictures indicating the three choices: Obama, W and Clinton. Yes, Clinton!
I was not able to see the results, but I'll bet a donut that W came in third.
That poll got me thinking about the early 1980s. Reagan was able to weather severe unemployment in the early years of his administration by continually blaming Carter. In fact, the Reaganoids were still blaming Carter for all of the world's ills as late as 1988.
It's a little hard to believe, looking back on it, that the country experienced such a profound ideological shift in the years 1981-83. The economy was in bad shape, homelessness rose to frightening levels, jobs were scarce, we were losing all sorts of jobs, foreigners began buying up our assets, we ran up massive debts, we were no longer a creditor nation. Yet the nation continued to embrace the toxic effects of Friedmanism while disdaining the Keynesian policies which had brought us so much post-war prosperity. All problems were ascribed to Carter.
Why can't Obama be as successful in blaming our woes on Bush?
Obama now owns this disaster. He had maybe four or five months of non-ownership. Whether he deserves
ownership is not the question I'm asking. What I'm curious about is the strange issue of public perception. When Reagan engaged in blame-shifting, the public never accused him of dodging responsibility. If Obama were to blame the guy who came before, everyone would sneer.
I don't think it's just a matter of style or personality. I think the answer has something to do with media, and with the mind-set of this nation. Conservatism is the default position of this country.
Granted, Obama is, in fact, a very conservative president -- at least, he has been so far -- but much of the country nevertheless considers him a socialist, and they believe that socialism has caused our ruin. There is something in our national make-up which leads us to blame the Democrat while excusing the Republican, even when the Democrat more or less is
Who says there's no difference between the parties? Dems are much
better at playing the scapegoat.