While we're on the subject of collections of syllables that will get someone elected president...
Jacob Weisburg complained in Slate (and Newsweek) a week or so ago about the lack of a catchy slogan from the Obama campaign, and although I don't think it's a deal-killer at this point, I don't disagree that it would help. In this citizen's opinion, recent events have handed him a winner.
The ability to organize economic issues around a simple, lucid theme was a talent of our two most successful recent presidents. Ronald Reagan offered an overarching narrative about how government had come to play too large a role in the economy. His most famous slogans -— "Get the government off our backs," "Morning again in America," "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" -— all got at his notion of unshackling enterprise from its bureaucratic fetters to restore growth.[Aside: Yes, it got him elected, but how's that working out for ya the last couple of weeks? Are you better off than you were four weeks ago, Grover Norquist? Can we wait to see how these bailouts play out before we carve Ronnie's visage on Mount Rushmore?]
Bill Clinton had a different tale about how ordinary Americans -— people who work hard and play by the rules -— were falling behind. His catchphrases -— "Putting people first," "It's the economy, stupid," "Building a bridge to the 21st century" -— similarly supported the policy changes he thought would help the struggling middle class.There's a brief window of opportunity here to point out that if government is always and inevitably going be the rescue squad for capitalism, then it owes it to all of us to regulate markets in the name of fairness and stability before the fact. How about this:
"All the American people wanted was common-sense capitalism, and what we got was emergency socialism."
The shorter, rolls-off-your-tongue version is the title of this post. It turns the old Cold War, Us vs. The Commie Pinko Bogeyman sloganeering on its ear, and for once, and while it's still fresh in everyone's mind, suggests we were right all along about drowning babies in bathtubs.