The foregoing quote is attributed to Mark Twain…
I’ve always understood it to mean that some events reoccur in history with spooky similarity, even though they are not exactly alike in all the particulars. See if you can tell me what politician I’m describing and when the events happened:
“The conservative Republican was elected on a platform of cutting taxes and spending, both proposed with the goal of getting the economy moving again. Although he was eventually able to get a number of legislators who shared his philosophy elected, taking control of the Senate for a surprise victory, he found that actually cutting government spending was a lot easier said than done.
“Moreover, when his major tax cuts went through, he had to accept a number of provisions, resulting in major revenue losses, that were not part of his original proposal, loading up his tax bill with a number of loopholes, exemptions, and tax breaks for special interests, in order to get the bill through a legislative branch that was still, at least in part, in hostile hands.
“When his tax cuts failed to lead to the dramatic growth in revenues he and his political allies had hoped for, he had to go back to the legislature and ask for new taxes to meet the mounting budget deficit. Even though he was ultimately successful in raising revenues, this move was greeted with a chorus of derision in the press and from his political opponents. His critics maintained that this step (which he described as a ‘course correction’) was actually proof that supply side economics was an abject failure and that his whole approach to government was discredited. Even though the resulting deficit was caused in no small part by his failure to limit government spending as promised, his political opponents lambasted him for ‘savage’ cuts in welfare and education spending. It didn’t matter that the ‘cuts’ usually turned out to be spending increases smaller than his opponents would have liked. Nor did it matter that he’d inherited a faltering economy from his predecessor- the widespread belief was that this Republican conservative had seriously damaged the government and the economy single-handedly.
“The mere mention of his name at a public gathering would bring on a chorus of boos and cat calls. Comments in the media were striking in their anger and negativity. Few observers doubted that he would go down as the worst chief executive up to that time, a mean spirited bigot who had destroyed the enlightened legacy of many in his own party, who were moderate conservatives and not right wing radicals like he was. If he was remembered at all, it would be for favoring the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the poor and middle class, as well as for his extremist positions on social issues like guns, abortion, and the separation of church and state.”
Are we talking Sam Brownback circa 2015?
Actually, however, that entire description came from a book published in 1983 about the Ronald Reagan presidency called “Gambling with History-Reagan In The White House.” By Laurence L. Barrett, White House correspondent for Time Magazine, it offered a less than hopeful assessment on what Reagan’s legacy would ultimately be.
I anticipate cries of protest that Brownback lacks Reagan’s deft political touch.
Moreover, there’s no guaranty that the Kansas economy will rebound in Brownback’s second term like the national economy did in Reagan’s. True enough, but we’ve got three and a half years to go, don’t we?
And a lot can happen in the meantime.