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Rich Lowry Is Making Sense | The Nation

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Christopher Hayes

Christopher Hayes

Nation editor-at-large and host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes.

Rich Lowry Is Making Sense

Over at the Corner he writes.

While some conservative bloggers plunge into depths of despair that Rush Limbaugh gave a speech at CPAC not up to their standards and the White House congratulates itself over its supposed cleverness in elevating Rush, can we all take a deep breath please? Barack Obama and the Democrats have the initiative. Until such time as their policies are perceived to have failed, it doesn't matter too much what Republicans do. Yes, they obviously should endeavor to be sober and creative--replenishing their policy arsenal for the day when the public is seriously paying attention to them again--but the big question in American politics right now is how Obama handles the financial crisis and the economy. In the grand scheme of things, everything else is commentary.

This is true across the political spectrum. It's very easy to get caught up in the cable-news cycle. And, indeed, one of the Obama crew's chief virtues in their determination to take the long view. Ultimately, the political success of the White House is going to depend on its performance in avoiding a depression. Of course, the arrow of causality doesn't run one way. Obama needs to be politically deft and imposing in order to pass an agenda that has a hope of forestalling said depression. But this isn't a campaign and it's not the Clinton years, despite the degree to which much of our political culture remains habituated to both.

I've been making my way through the first season of the West Wing (a little latae, I know!) and I'm just struck by how trivial the politics of that time seem. They're constantly dealing with blow-ups over flag burning amendments or White House staffers using drugs. These days no one would care. We have very, very very serious problems on our hands and the political fate of Obama, and to a broader extent the American left is going to rise or fall on whether the people currently running a government do a good job of solving them.

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