Doubling Down

All in all, I can see why the markets are nervous and dropping. And it’s also clear that we’re on the cusp of the biggest political experiment of our lifetimes. If Obama is mostly successful, then the epistemological skepticism natural to conservatives will have been discredited. We will know that highly trained government experts are capable of quickly designing and executing top-down transformational change. If they mostly fail, then liberalism will suffer a grievous blow, and conservatives will be called upon to restore order and sanity. — David Brooks

What if, however, Obama (mostly) succeeds by accident? Don’t we all know — hasn’t Biden, at least, admitted — that this is a high-powered crapshoot? Aren’t we simply shifting risk around, instead of lowering our risk tolerance? Might we, by centralizing risk, actually be raising our affinity for risk? Isn’t the principle here that the government’s ability to deliberately do more somethings than anyone else, or any collection of institutions, stiffens our spines for an even greater, more momentous, more fateful roll of the dice?

Last night I chatted with a random guy wearing a UVA tattoo on one ankle. “I support Obama on this one,” he said. “If this fails, too, it’ll be even harder to fix than the mess we’re in now.”

‘Success’, such as it is, won’t discredit conservative skepticism — so much as prop up, for another round, the luxury of disobeying it: a luxury so precious we’ll try anything to keep enjoying it.