Anatomy of a Meltdown

by Victor Davis Hanson

NRO’s The Corner

Many saw Obama’s polls dropping for a variety of reasons, and can anticipate what’s next. People took the candidate at his word of bipartisanship, fiscal seriousness, and centrism, and from day one got instead shady Cabinet nominations of tax cheats and lobbyists, indifference to congressional corruption as symbolized by Rangel and Dodd, a whiny monotony of “Bush did it” for a year, a 1,000-page healthcare monstrosity, fiscal insanity, serial appeasement of enemies with conscious neglect of old allies, and on and on. No hope, less change.

And when the polls showed that almost the entire Obama agenda — more stimuli, more new government programs, statist healthcare, cap-and-trade to come, no gas/oil/nuclear promotion, apologetic foreign policy, “comprehensive” immigration reform as envisioned by the La Razistas — was unpopular and polling poorly, congressional Democrats, for much of the summer and fall, sighed something like, “Oh, no matter, the rock-star president’s ratings are still untouchable and he can come in here and by osmosis put me over the top.”

But not now. The former celebrity Obama has lost that luster, point-by-point over a year, bleeding by a thousand small cuts until he nears 40 percent approval. In themselves, the bad jokes like the flippant remark about the Special Olympics, the lunatic appointments like Anita Dunn and Van Jones, the serial untruths about airing the healthcare debate on C-SPAN or shunning lobbyists, the phony deadlines on Gitmo and the Iranians, the bribing of senators with hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers’ funds, the bowing, the snubbing of the British, the use of the race card against tea-party critics, the Skip Gates mess, the Orwellian NEA business, constant fluff photos ops, but rare real press conferences — all that in the aggregate brought Obama to his present state.

And now the question is not whether the president’s charisma can save his unpopular agenda, but rather whether the president’s growing unpopularity makes things even worse. This takes place, of course, in a landscape of 10 percent unemployment, a nearly $2 trillion debt, and rising energy prices. Somehow more deficits and subsidized wind and solar won’t be winning issues.

An obvious prediction: The upcoming show trial of KSM, cap-and-trade, and amnesty are not winning issues — and will have to be Gitmoized or they will threaten to destroy the Democratic party for years.

Finally, how ironic — Obama was elected as a reaction to Bush’s mistakes of deficit spending and big-ticket new entitlements that nullified his otherwise effective anti-terrorism war; instead, he took what people liked about Bush and ridiculed them, while trumping Bush’s spending that had turned so many off.

©2010 Victor Davis Hanson

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