Presidential greatness? I'll settle for competence, thanks

For a master of the universe like Krugman, these two feats of statecraft are epochal sensations no matter how many former Occupy activists sob into their pillows at night about the lack of single payer.

Yet Krugman, like all our champions of the historic presidency, fall into a self-serving confusion about what is and isn’t “progress.” The ethos of governing by “big fucking deal,” to Bidenize things, conveniently lets historic presidents off the hook when it comes to results. No matter how constitutionally suspect, how costly, how slapdash, or how disappointing a grand policy might be, well, they tried.

It’s the system that failed us, not the President, and certainly not History itself. In fact, let’s be honest: it’s the American people who failed, those godawful punks (for Republicans) or rubes (for Democrats). If only they had been able to live up to the glory of presidential progress!

No matter how badly a president’s popularity rating scrapes bottom, the historic presidency soars among the clouds. The Republican taste for national greatness and the Democrat taste for perpetual progress both favor the use of government to drag majorities where they don’t want to go.