Only 17 percent of Americans trust the government to do the right thing most or all of the time, according to an October New York Times/CBS News poll.
So the members of my dream Obama administration understand that they cannot impose an ideological program the country does not accept. New presidents in 1932 and 1964 could presuppose a basic level of trust in government. But today, as Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution observes, the new president is going to have to build that trust deliberately and step by step.
That means there won’t just be a few token liberal Republicans in marginal jobs. There will be people like Robert Gates at Defense and Ray LaHood, Stuart Butler, Diane Ravitch, Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Jim Talent at other important jobs.
Yep, the right way to restore trust in the US government is to reinstate the people who have just been repudiated, to the sounds of spontaneous cheers throughout the country--throughout the world for that matter. The most important step to be taken in a country where the government is not trusted to do its job is to put back into power the people who invaded Iraq and couldn't get around to dealing with Katrina, who have presided over the looting of the Treasury, and the destruction of the US credit marketplace.
The Obama administration of my dreams will insist that Congressional Democrats reinstate bipartisan conference committees. They’ll invite G.O.P. leaders to the White House for real meetings and then re-invite them, even if they give hostile press conferences on the White House driveway.
Yeah. that's the ticket. Even if they give hostile press conferences after playing a significant policy-making role in a new bipartisan administration. That was the "bipartisanship" thing that just a few months ago was synonymous with "date rape."
They’ll do things conservatives disagree with, but they’ll also show that they’re not toadies of the liberal interest groups. They’ll insist on merit pay and preserving No Child Left Behind’s accountability standards, no matter what the teachers’ unions say. They’ll postpone contentious fights on things like card check legislation.
Most of all, they’ll take significant action on the problems facing the country without causing a mass freak-out among voters to the right of Nancy Pelosi.
That is, defense spending is off the table. And, yes, of course we can't freak out the country by ending the Cold War occupation of Germany, in the light of the fall of the Berlin Wall a generation ago and Japan, in light of the Chinese government holding markers on a good chunk of the American economy. (You don't knock off folks who owe you money.)
And then, Obama will turn the line item veto over to a Blue Dog Congressman:
My dream administration will announce a Budget Rebalancing Initiative. Somebody like Representative Jim Cooper would go through the budget and take out the programs and tax expenditures that don’t work. “If we have no spending cuts, then we’re saying government is perfect. Nobody believes that,” Cooper says.
Yep. That's the kind of change BoBo believes in.