Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

January 23, 2014

Maybe, we can't

(Continued)

This is the Johnny Appleseed version of the presidency in which important programs ignored by the daily press make a huge impact in people’s lives in the future. That is the essential argument of Michael Grunwald’s book “The New New Deal” on the $800 billion Obama stimulus package passed early in his tenure. Judged at the time based on whether it would halt the economic slowdown, its lasting impact may well be in the programs it launched — everything from Race to the Top to improve education, to ideas promoting electronic medical records to transportation innovations, to support for clean energy.

Remnick treats this evolution of Obama’s vision as a laudable outgrowth of his special temperament. The president takes the “long view,” a sensible antidote to the conventional wisdom that a president must achieve success on big things quickly and almost despite the obstacles. This is right, but it is not Obama’s insight alone. This view about history’s verdict provided solace to George W. Bush as well. Bush also said he was never worried about the day-to-day evaluations of his presidency because history’s verdict was all that mattered. “You can’t possibly figure out the history of the Bush presidency — until I’m dead,” he told Robert Draper in a typical remark. According to Peter Baker’s book “Days of Fire,” Bush and Obama also shared another realization. In the New Yorker interview, Obama seems to be embracing a view of the presidency’s limitations that Bush offered in the response to an aide who asked him what surprised him the most about his presidency. “How little authority I have,” said Bush.

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Opinion
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  • Pensions not the problem I see in last night’s Register-News paper that James Rippy has attempted to enlighten us on pensions in Illinois. I also notice he has written so often he no longer has the title “guest columnist.” It is obvious he has the time and energy to work on

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  • Impasse threatens border solution After more than a year of contentious debate, could Congress be any more divided over the issue of immigration? The answer is yes.In the House, positions are hardening over what to do about the tens of thousands of families and unaccompanied young im

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  • Take a lesson from Texas I like to eat at blue-collar diners and cafes, particularly when I’m on vacation.It’s a chance to step beyond the homogenized national chains and experience a bit of local flavor.And being a reporter, I like to chat up local folks to find out a bit a

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  • The future reality of terrorist drones A very small airplane rose over the Gaza Strip last week. It entered Israeli airspace and sped toward the coastal city of Ashdod. Then a Patriot missile blew it up.The plane, a rudimentary drone launched by the terrorist group Hamas, posed little thr

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  • We are headed to a jobless future In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers revived a debate I’d had with futurist Ray Kurzweil in 2012 about the jobless future.He echoed the words of Peter Diamandis, who says that we are moving from a history

    July 23, 2014

  • Pensions need to be addressed I will have to admit that I am slightly overwhelmed today with the receipt of articles and suggestions for a column. One of my Fitness Mafia colleagues constantly tells me the columns are too long and trying to address different subjects just dilutes

    July 22, 2014

  • VA still failing our vets Jymm’s preferred attire is a skin-tight Minnie Mouse T-shirt with bright pink windbreaker pants. Even when not sporting his choice outfit, he dons short shorts and shirts with holes in them, because that’s what he finds most comfortable. His Santa Mo

    July 22, 2014

  • Feed your home piggy bank with a 15-year mortgage This summer, we finally decided to take the plunge we’d been contemplating for a while: converting our 30-year mortgage to one with a 15-year payoff. It’s a big step. Our payments will go up somewhat (the PITI — principal, interest, tax, and insuranc

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  • Under the dumb There is a TV series about an entire town trapped under a giant, mysterious crystal-clear dome that appears out of the blue one day. The dome is impenetrable; no one can get in, no one can get out. Who made the dome? Aliens? God? A super-secret branc

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