According to Limbaugh, Obama’s centrist cabinet selections are merely a smoke screen for his plans to radically reconstruct America along progressive economic and social lines and finish the job that Franklin D. Roosevelt started in his New Deal.
Forget about the middle-of-the-roaders, recycled Clintonistas and (even) Republicans in Obama’s cabinet, Limbaugh says. What Obama means to do is lead America to a new, bigger and more sweeping New Deal that will embrace and revitalize the progressive governmental activism of the early years of the Roosevelt administration.
To this end, Limbaugh insists that Obama actually wants the economic crisis to get worse before he takes office. That’s why, and not because of an abstract belief that America has only one president at a time, Limbaugh says, Obama has not moved more forcefully to influence economic policy prior to his inauguration. Limbaugh claims that Obama figures that the more desperate the country’s economic crisis, the easier it will be for him to achieve his goal of transforming the government into an engine of progressive economic and social activism.
What Limbaugh suggests is that Obama is planning on a progressive version of Naomi Klein’s “shock doctrine” of disaster capitalism, in which “‘only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change’. When that crisis occurs, the actions taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. Some people stockpile canned goods and water in preparation for major disasters; [Milton] Friedmanites stockpile free-market ideas. And once a crisis has struck, the University of Chicago professor was convinced that it was crucial to act swiftly, to impose rapid and irreversible change before the crisis-racked society slipped back into the ‘tyranny of the status quo’. ”
Except that in this instance, it won’t be conservatives and Friedmanites who are employing the disaster capitalism shock doctrine, but progressives.
The irony, of course, is that it was the use of the shock doctrine of disaster capitalism (in the Reagan years and beyond) — in which corporations systematically exploited the state of fear and disorientation that accompanies shock and crisis to remove regulations and government oversight of their activities — that produced the economic mess were in now.
Another way to look at Limbaugh’s argument it is that Obama is using the current economic crisis as his own 9-11, hoping that the fear generated by economic disaster will force his opponents to capitulate to fundamental changes that in other, safer times they would have obdurately refused to accept.
I hope you’re right.