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Wednesday, March 31, 2010
By Steven L. Taylor

Today’s edition is from the Washington Examiner (United States of Argentina) wherein Obama is cast in the roles of both Juan Perón and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner all in a two-paragraph span.

The first tip-off that the author has no clue about the topic in question is the notion that the Peronism of the 1940s and that of the current period (indeed, of the post military regime period, i.e, 1983 onward) is identical.1  Yes, Kirchner is a member of the Partido Justicialista, also known as the peronists, but there hasn’t exactly been an unbroken line of policy prescriptions between Juan Domingo and Cristina.  For that matter, the notion that all of the ills of Argentina can be laid at the feet of the peronists is a gross over-simplification.2

And while it is true that Argentina appeared to be on an economy trajectory like that of Europe at the early part of the Twentieth Century, the author exaggerates a bit to make it sound like an economic paradise that was driven into the ground by Perón alone.  Indeed, the Argentine economy started its decline during the Great Depression, which was a decade and half-ish before Perón came to power.

As a side note, it strikes me as ironic that the political movement in the US that currently has more in common, stylistically anyway, with  Juan Perón’s politics (which were quintessentially populist) are the Tea Partiers, not the Obama administration.

The main problem with the comparisons in the column is that it fundamentally makes no sense.  The logic goes like this:  Perón engaged in some policies that had something to do with increased government activity in the economy and that led to disaster.   So, Obama’s because health care reform increases government involvement in a sector of the economy, disaster looms.   Never mind, of course, that the two sets of policies really have nothing to do with one another, either in content of scope.  Why trifle with making a comparison that makes sense?

Although I will note that this adds yet another political label to the growing list that has been applied to the Obama administration (e.g., socialist, communist, fascist, etc.).  I honestly never considered he might be labeled a peronist.

In terms of serious commentary I will allow that there is a real issue at the heart of an otherwise silly column:  there are serious fiscal concerns on the horizon for the US.  However, it is difficult to take seriously people who pretend like the only reason that this is true is because of the health care bill (which, at least, attempts to pay for itself—although that is an argument in and of itself, I will allow).  Still, the last decade has seen (off the top of my head):  two wars, Medicare Part D, tax cuts, TARP and the stimulus bill (none of which made any attempt to pay for themselves), so it is difficult to say that HCR is the main culprit in our fiscal woes. Anyone who makes that argument is either not paying attention or is being disingenuous.  And for clarity’s sake, let me note:  I think that the potential fiscal implications of HCR are legitimate reasons to be concerned about/opposed to it.  However, I find it inconsistent to take it alone and pretend that it will bankrupt us while at the same time ignoring the cost of the Iraq war (to pick just one item from the list above).

  1. This is especially evident in the fact that the era that the column’s author praises (the 1990s) was a period that also had a peronist President. []
  2. Perhaps a gross over-simplification cubed. []
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One Response to “Spurious Comparison Watch (Don’t Cry for Me, Edition)”

  1. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Spurious Comparisons Part II Says:

    [...] comparisons between the Obama administration and various Latin American leaders.  First it was with various Argentine presidents, and now it is with Hugo Chávez.  The one comes from John Hawkins’ (or Right Wing News) [...]


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