Obama's Unbelievable Populist Act
Jesse Walker's work always gives historians much food for thought. In this article for the Wall Street Journal, he traces how Obama follows in a long tradition of politicians who tried to reinvent themselves as populists. Obama will have a more uphill battle than most in pulling off this feat:
To cast this man as a populist, you needn't merely imagine an alternate America where a William Jennings Bryan, the explosive orator who ran unsuccessfully three times for the White House in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has actually captured the presidency. You need to imagine a Bryan who went to Harvard and taught at an elite law school, who received more money than his opponent from Wall Street and the corporate media, who personally intervened during the presidential campaign to help a bank bailout become law, who surrounded himself with advisers drawn from Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and whose solution to an economic crisis has been to propose a program of corporate subsidies. A populist? Even at his most liberal, pushing a plan to move the country toward universal health coverage, Mr. Obama's idea of advancing reform is to cut deals with all the industries involved so they'll back his legislation.