In 2008, American liberalism seemed poised for its comeback. The pendulum of Arthur Schlesinger’s “cycle of history” was swinging back toward a new progressive era. Obama would be the liberal Reagan.The rules didn't change, the government is not doing enough, Americans don't wanna let go of, say, unemployment benefits or social security or Medicare, I dunno what populism you're talking about, Americans don't care about the deficit.
But what about when the rules change? For nearly a century now, the rules have said that tough economic times make big government more popular. For more than 40 years it has been a rule that environmental disasters — and scares over alleged ones — help environmentalists push tighter regulations. According to the rules, Americans never want to let go of an entitlement once they have it. According to the rules, populism is a force for getting the government to do more, not less. According to the rules, Americans don’t care about the deficit during a recession.
Nobody with sense pays attention to Jonah except for yucks, but Mr. Obama might do well to be the demon the right thinks he is.