Daniel Henninger, at The WSJ in “Obama Meets Toto”, does a lot better job than I can exploring this situation, saying:
In the movie, Dorothy and her friends in Oz admit the Wizard's limits. Not here. After a century of faith in the government's omnipotence, the discipleship can't believe this is happening. Oz.
He goes on:
A Democratic woman, a party fund-raiser who worked on Wall Street, once offered me the most honest liberal defense for government's limited skills I've heard. She said that with things like health care for the poor or protecting the environment, the private sector would never step up. She was willing to pay high taxes to let government do it, no matter how stupid, corrupt and inefficient the government might be, because that was better than the alternative, which was nothing.
Whatever the validity, for most of the postwar period, many people bought into this Faustian bargain. Throw money, accept the inefficiencies, and hope the government does more good than harm.
The trouble is:
Now government's inefficiency has become indefensible and its fantastic costs, its oceanic spending, a clear and present danger.
Re-read Barack Obama's nomination-acceptance speech in Denver, an amazing compendium of promises ending with: "America, we cannot turn back (applause) not with so much work to be done; not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for; not with an economy to fix, and cities to rebuild, and farms to save; not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend."
The speaker of those words can't stop the oil, but his language shows how indiscriminate faith in government omnipotence has become, and how incapable the believers are of targeting discrete goals, rather than vapor-filled clouds such as "saving the planet" or "mending lives."
Closing with the Oz theme, Heninger says what I wish I could have said as well:
This truly is the land of Oz.
But Toto has pulled the curtain back, and it looks like this year's clear-eyed electorate is ready to go home to Kansas.