Acknowledging class was always difficult for 'New Democrats' - it was second-wave, it was divisive - but 2008 made retro politics cool again.
As you may recall, Truman was extremely unpopular when he finally left Washington in 1953, thanks largely to the Korean War. Today, however, he is thought to have been a solidly good president, a 'Near Great' even, in the terminology of those surveys of historians they do every now and then.
As you watch the world crumble, try taking your Armageddon with this sprinkling of irony: Over the last three decades, business has got virtually everything it wanted, and its doomsday scenario from the 1970s has come true because of it.
Back in the days when the market was a kind of secular god and all the world thrilled to behold the amazing powers of private capital, the idea of privatizing highways and airports and other bits of our transportation infrastructure made a certain kind of sense.
Concerns about the size and role of government are what seem to leave reformers stammering and speechless in town-hall meetings. The right wants to have a debate over fundamental principles elected Democrats seem incapable of giving it to them.
For-profit higher education is today a booming industry, feeding on the student loans handed out to the desperate.
Former President Bill Clinton, who is widely regarded as a political mastermind, may have sounded like a traditional liberal at the beginning of his term in office. But what ultimately defined his presidency was his amazing pliability on matters of principle.
Government is, by its very nature, a destroyer of liberties the Obama administration, specifically, is promising to interfere with the economy and the health care system so profoundly that Washington will soon have us all in chains.
In America, we no longer have an institutionalized, organized way of calling business to task - of taking them to account for what they've done - and this is especially true in the cultural realm.
It is always a disappointment to turn from forthright consideration of some subject - whether from the Left or the Right, a poet or a plumber - to the Beltway version, in which the only aspects of the issue that matter are the effects it will have on the fortunes of the two parties and the various men in power.
Liberal that I am, I support health-care reform on its merits alone. My liberal blood boils, for example, when I read that half of the personal bankruptcies in this country are brought on, in part, by medical expenses.
Maybe that first, gigantic deficit the Reaganites piled up was an accident, just a combination of deluded 'supply side' tax cuts and a huge bag of good stuff for the Pentagon. But pretty quickly conservatives discovered that deficits, when done correctly, did something really cool: deficits defunded the Left.
Money has transformed every watchdog, every independent authority. Medical doctors are increasingly gulled by the lobbying of pharmaceutical salesmen.
Most of Roosevelt's innovations have been the law of the land for 70 years now, and yet we are still a free society free enough, that is, to allow tens of thousands of protesters to gather on the National Mall and to broadcast their slogans and speeches to the world via C-SPAN.
Mr. Obama still has time to reverse course. A great deal depends on it. To fail on health care yet again might well be the 'Waterloo' Republicans dream of.
One of the things I keep coming back to in my writing is that society doesn't work on this mirror principle, you don't have an exact replica on the left of what you have on the right. It just doesn't work that way.
Our laws governing lobbying and campaign contributions have struck the right balance between the wishes of the people and those of private industry, so why are we so quick to doubt that the same great results can be achieved by putting the government's justice-dealing branch on the same market-based course?
Selling public property is the true Chicago way. Had Mr. Obama not been elected president, the nation's business journals would be falling over one another to praise his city for its daring, market-friendly innovations.
The great fear that hung over the business community in the 1970s was death by regulation, and the great goal of the conservative movement, as it rose to triumph in the 1980s, was to remove that threat - to keep OSHA, the EPA, and the FTC from choking off entrepreneurship with their infernal meddling in the marketplace.
The only truly individualistic health-care choice - where you receive care that is unpolluted by anyone else's funds - is to forgo insurance altogether, paying out-of-pocket for health services as you need them.
There are few things in politics more annoying than the Right's utter conviction that it owns the patent on the word 'freedom' that when its leaders stand up for the rights of banks to be unregulated or capital gains to be untaxed, that it is actually and obviously standing up for human liberty, the noblest cause of them all.
There is much to dislike about President Obama's approach to the financial crisis. But opposition, it seems, will have to come from somewhere other than conservatism. The party out of power is also a party out of touch.
There is something uniquely depressing about the fact that the National Portrait Gallery's version of the Barack Obama 'Hope' poster previously belonged to a pair of lobbyists. Depressing because Mr. Obama's Washington was not supposed to be the lobbyists' Washington, the place we learned to despise during the last administration.
This aesthetic quality, then, is what politics is all about. It's authenticity that separates winners from losers, good politics from bad, and he-man leader-types from consultant-directed puppet-boys.
Under the administration of George W. Bush, you will recall, federal spending grew pretty significantly. At the same time, the number of people directly employed by the federal government shrank. One of the factors that explained the difference was contracting.
We are watching industries crumble, Wall Street firms disappear, unemployment spike, and unprecedented government intervention. And our designated opinion leaders want to know: Is Obama up this week? Is he down? And is his leadership style more like Bill Clinton's, or Abraham Lincoln's?
We have become a society that can't self-correct, that can't address its obvious problems, that can't pull out of its nosedive. And so to our list of disasters let us add this fourth entry: we have entered an age of folly that - for all our Facebooking and the twittling tweedle-dee-tweets of the twitterati - we can't wake up from.
What is at stake in the debate over health care is more than the mere crafting of policy. The issue is now the identity of the Democratic Party.
When the entertainers of the Right aren't declaring their disgust with President Obama for groveling before foreign potentates, they're pretending to fear him as a left-wing thug, an exemplar of what they call 'the Chicago way.'
While Democrats fussed with the details of health care reforms, conservatives spent months telling the nation that the real issue is freedom, that what's on the line is American liberty itself.
Yes, Democrats can prove that America pays more for health care than other countries yes, they have won the dispute that private health insurance is needlessly expensive. But what they've lost is the argument that we are a society.