Conservatives lament, and liberals brag, that Obama has fundamentally transformed America.
Six years of slumber later, a surging America finally is transcending even the effects of hope and change. For the last few years, most Americans have tuned out their president’s no-time-to-profit rhetoric. They just kept slogging away at what they always did as the most productive people in the world, and waited for the natural up-bound of a moribund economy.
Obama himself understands that America is prevailing despite his efforts, and the evidence comes from his own admissions. In a recent National Public Radio interview, Obama took credit for the fact that the deficit was falling — as if, suddenly, fiscal prudence is a good thing and red-ink stimulus is not. But that change of heart came only after five years of disastrous trillion-dollar budget shortfalls that no one any more believed had jump-started the economy. The European Union is stagnating and America is working, not because Obama championed the U.S. model of free-market capitalism, but because his efforts to emulate Europe proved politically and culturally impossible.
The populist backlash against reckless spending — spurred on by the caricatured grass-roots Tea Party — cost Obama the House of Representatives in 2010. The next year the new Congress forced sequestration and mandatory cuts. Gridlock followed, and Obama’s agenda was fossilized after the enactment of the disastrous Obamacare.
Gridlock ensured that the government’s share of the gross national product is falling to traditional levels. Apparently Obama now looks back at that as a good thing. Is the logic that Obama deliberately and diabolically so turned off the electorate that it voted Republicans into office to thwart his huge borrowing, so that he could take credit for declining deficits?
Obama feels he has new leverage with Iran and Russia. But if that is true, the opportunity did not derive from his heralded reset policies, which offered outreach while blaming the prior administration for the tense relations with those two countries. Instead, the oil-price crash of late 2014 — brought about by private American drillers and conniving Middle East oil sheiks — robbed Iran, Russia, and Venezuela of hundreds of billions of dollars in income.
That shortfall meant internal instability, smaller subsidies to terrorists, fewer cut-rate arms sales, and less direct aid to America’s enemies. In contrast, as far as his own initiatives go, Obama does not brag much about the bombing of Libya, the pullout of all troops from a once-quiet Iraq, supposed red lines and deadlines in the Middle East, or the expected calm in Afghanistan after he has sent home all U.S. constabulary troops.
Perhaps Obama believes that he jawboned against new energy production in hopes of enraging domestic producers to the point where they would double up their efforts on private lands, which in turn would help lower oil prices — all as part of a grand Machiavellian plan to weaken our petro enemies. If so, bravo.
Obama takes credit for the fact that gas prices at home have crashed, which when he entered office he would have labeled a bad thing because it would spike the driving of carbon-spewing vehicles and heat up the planet. He apparently assumed, however, that the private sector would keep drilling when he predicted in 2012 that it could not lower prices much by doing just that.
Again, maybe that twisted logic was part of a brilliantly convoluted plan to discredit green wind and solar subsidies, whose corrupt crony capitalism had weakened his administration. In any case, suddenly there is no more administration talk of hoping gasoline prices climb to European levels or that electricity costs skyrocket. Steven Chu’s mutterings and the ideal of a family of five packed into a Prius on the way to the high-speed-railroad station seem like yesteryear.
Obama talked a lot about obstreperous Republicans blocking his legislative agenda. But, since 2011, congressional opposition has actually helped Obama. Even Democrats hope that he will stop his current spate of executive orders, not so much because the edicts are probably unconstitutional, or because they are ideologically unwelcome, but because they are unpopular and may make life more difficult for Democrats in Congress. It is much wiser to damn Republican reactionaries while allowing them to make the necessary changes that will enhance Obama’s final two years in office. The mystery is not that Obama the consummate politician takes credit for something that he had nothing to do with or in fact opposed, but rather the thought processes necessary to explain how opposing energy recovery is proof of support for its effects or how his thwarted new spending proposals prove his fiscal sobriety.
Conservatives complain that Obama spends too much time on the golf course. But Obama’s ups and downs in the polls reflect the fact that the less the public sees or hears of him, the more it likes the idea rather than the reality of the president. The logic may again be deliberate and perhaps something like the following: “The more that my opponents stop my progressive agenda, and the more that I disappear from Washington in shorts and polo shirts to head for the putting greens, the more the nation moves ahead and credits whoever happens to nominally occupy the White House.” Some polls have shown a recent upsurge in Obama’s persistently weak ratings; if so, they coincide with the collapse in gasoline prices, the decline of unchecked federal spending, the long holiday when Americans were too busy to worry much about politics, and Obama’s own long absence golfing in Hawaii, when he was neither seen nor heard.
Cheap energy, a falling deficit, a roaring stock market, and the fact that America still survives as the freest and most open economy in the world explain why the U.S. is belatedly resurgent after six years of stagnation. It is hard to Europeanize America in six years; and the Obama effort to do so will make it difficult for progressives to see it attempted again for some time.
So there is no longer talk of Obama ushering in a new age of progressive politics, given that on his watch the Democrats lost both Houses of Congress and turned out to be the best thing for the Republican party in 86 years. In polls on his major initiatives — immigration amnesties, Obamacare, the Keystone pipeline, race relations — the public is opposed to the administration’s record. The next year may well see Congress or the courts — or both — neuter many of the Obama executive orders and presidential memoranda on the Affordable Care Act and immigration. Nothing could be better for Obama’s popularity than to cry crocodile tears for his pruned-away agenda.
A supposedly permanent Obama coalition of minorities and progressive elites is hemorrhaging for two simple reasons. First, the divisive talk that the Obama team engaged in to gin up block minority voting apparently turns off one old voter for each new one it energizes. Moreover, it is hard to make the case that America is racist, when people of color the world over are crashing the U.S. borders by any means necessary. Second, while there is plenty of evidence that in 2008 and 2012 Obama galvanized new voters, there is little evidence that they voted — or will vote in the future — in such record numbers for a liberal candidate other than Obama himself. Again, the result of the Obama electoral strategy seems to be that he has empowered his opposition in a way unseen in eight decades — and allowed himself to become a nominal president who will take credit for all that transpires contrary to his intentions. Maybe he has accepted that empowering conservative opposition would allow him to boast of an unworkable agenda in theory, while in fact seeing it quietly shelved.
All this is not to say that Obama did not make major changes in American life. Health care is in turmoil. The national debt will have nearly doubled during the Obama tenure. Racial divisiveness is worse than at any time in the last three decades. The number of those on federal and state entitlements is also at a record high. Defense spending in real terms is lower than at any time since the 1930s — and we know how that turned out. America is seen abroad as hesitant, unreliable, and confused.
The next president will probably not talk of borrowing $1 trillion a year to stimulate the economy. Shovel-ready jobs will be a bad joke, along with Cash for Clunkers and not losing your existing health plan. The next president will not lecture abroad about America’s supposed failings or the need for radical reset, other than to disown Obama’s aberrant foreign policy. She will not belittle the effect of new oil drilling on gasoline prices.
Democrat or Republican, the next president will praise, but then ignore, Obama the iconic president. The president in 2017 will assume that a defiant America on autopilot kept working despite, not because of, Obama’s policies.
And Obama himself? He will probably enjoy a lucrative post-presidency deriding his opponents, whose opposition ended up helping him, while praising his own failed policies, which neutered his presidency.
12 thoughts on “Autopilot Nation”
“And Obama himself? He will probably enjoy a lucrative post-presidency deriding his opponents, whose opposition ended up helping him, while praising his own failed policies, which neutered his presidency.”
Must be following Carter’s playbook, who hasn’t shut his yap for 35 years. It’s disheartening to know I’ll go to my grave having to hear from Obama from now on.
Again, you have illuminated the falsiity of the Obama agenda. The man has become the Lier in Chief, cheapening the Presidency at every turn. Perhaps conservatives will stem the damage already done, but this President’s legacy will be one of raw political ambition without a “smidgen” of statesmanship apparent anywhere. It will be a sad legacy of divisiveness, obfuscation, deceit, amoral policy making and a clear distaste for our republic’s Constitution and Bill of Rights. The average American will always press on regardless of incompetence in the White House. We have done it time and time again. In the end our people always outlast the politicians.
I think I realize now I will find no more than the old rhetoric of the out of touch neo-conservative mindset here.
“Six years of slumber later,” six years of mindless party politics – one party devoted to attempting to govern, the other devoted to obstruction of that other party, Did the government come close to shut down several times and actually did shut down for a week? I can’t even remember. It’s hardly been slumber. Mere rhetoric to characterize gridlock struggle as some sort of intended state of economic management..
” a surging America” – are we talking about a recent economic report? I don’t see a surging America. Is this a rhetorical set up for the slumber? From sleep to surging? No time to smell the coffee? Wake up, America Reagan rhetoric?
” finally is transcending” Transcending is a wonderful word. just words, though.
“even the effects of hope and change.” More words and even these words don’t make sense. Aren’t hope and change good things when facing a crisis of global economic meltdown? Are we supposed to be so keyed to the partisan nature of political dialogue that “hope and change” are anathema. How does one transcend the effects of hope and change? One must read the code to realize the rest of this article will be a screen about how everything the current administration as attempted is wrong and it is all linked to one person, the president.
I once thought that laying the blame and credit to the current president for every current event was a simple device to distract the simple. Now I realize it is not a distraction, it is a serious call to political war. It is much easier to identify a leader, a person, a focus rather than an abstraction, or principles or policies. It is still a smoke screen. Blah, blah, blah. The commentators keep talking to their converted flocks.
And you say VDH says nothing? You spent four plus paragraphs saying nothing, but you think conservatives are wrong… how about proving your points or answering your questions? Never mind, you probably can’t, so I will.
Yes, the government “shut down” for a week if you count putting more boots on the ground to close public monuments by barricading them. There was no real shutdown; it was all a sham put on by this administration to irritate as many people as possible by crying wolf about not having a trillion dollars to blow on “stimulus” and crony capitalism.
While I don’t think the economy is surging, it is doing better, thanks in large part to lower oil costs. Lower transportation costs and cheaper pump prices create spendable income, so yes, despite the president’s work, the economy is a little better.
“Hope and change” is forever tainted by this administration – I doubt I will ever use them together in the same sentence again. The global economic meltdown? How was “hope and change” going to do anything to fix that? Same ridiculous grumbling about obstruction from conservatives.
Pretty much everything this administration has attempted has failed miserably in some way. The ACA has not reduced the cost of healthcare, in fact most people are only starting to feel the monetary effects of this ridiculous law. Four US citizens died in Benghazi under this administration’s watch. The IRS has been politicized and used as leverage for the administration. I could go on and on, but everyone else reading this is already aware of the issues. Maybe you should try getting your news from somewhere other than CNN and MSNBC.
No, son, change is not necessarily a good thing even in the wake of a global economic meltdown. Change can be for the better but it can just as easily be for the worse (witness the previous six years).
I’ll take competition anywhere and everywhere over government socialism. They say the oil boom is now a bad thing, they are wrong. Cheap energy creates jobs, it opens the floodgates to creativity and independence.
Obama is so shallowly rooted, so fanthomlike in his persona, it is hard to mull over his future, if he has one. No doubt he will milk the system for perks, charge huge amounts for speaking arrangements and play a lot of golf. Maybe on the golf course is the most comfortable place for his post-presidency role but even there, try as he might, he’s not going to be able to call the shots. Destiny has a life of its own.
I hope my attempt at moderation helps print this. HC
In the USA, its finance. An obstructionist President for the next 2 years and God forbid, another Democrat puppet shell elected to the presidency in 2016. Add to that, the treasonous RINO’S still kissy kissy with Bankruptor in Chief. The United States, the defender of the free world, is being led into financial peril. Is the peril set in motion by the truth in folllowing article, combined with the above statements ?—- See the article from zero hedge “” How the petroldollar quietly died, and nobody noticed.”” Russia, Russia toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.” —- Have no fear, Obama is here.
Next time we vote in a candidate to be President, let us avoid one whose river of oratory floats a loaded oil tanker but whose stream of wisdom, experience, and past record of performance scrapes the bottoms of empty kayaks.
Americans are a stubborn bunch. Bent on succeeding, although un-garateed, even by God, they nonetheless go through the motions, inspired by a resilient system of government put in motion a couple of centuries ago, based on simple words from a short written document, that allows at least a chance for it, regardless the transient political ideology that occupies the nation’s capitol at any given moment.
Rhetoric, the preferred medium of politicians, has the ability to inflate or deflate depending on the intent of it’s owner, guided wholly by their ideology. Contrast the words of Reagan with those of Carter. Who’s words inspired and cemented a mindset that helped lift the country out of a debilitating period of social and economic malaise and hopelessness? Evidenced, there followed the largest peacetime economic boom in American history. The vast majority will take a positive over a negative slant every time. Granted, real policies that work toward actual solutions to problems MUST follow the rhetoric. The sort of soaring, glittery speech employed by Obama the candidate soon lost it’s luster when it was followed by Obama the president who, at every available turn, used the bully pulpit to apologize to the world for America’s (in his mind) dispicable deeds. Combine that with the six years now of vacuous and ill conceived policies that have produced only scant positive economic results. Culturally, words will also help or hurt. The tact Obama and his ilk took when the country, confronted by a series of unfortunate incidents involving race, desperately needed a salve in the form of calming and thoughtful words from it’s first post-racial(?) leader. But, in each instance, the rhetoric Obama ultimately chose had the reverse affect, fueling the proverbial fire and rending open the wound that had been healing nicely for forty years. The sort of speech utilized by this administration and it’s other nefarious cohorts is certainly culpable in a large way for the subsequent crimes and acts of violence perpetrated against the police and private citizens across the country.
Words are just words, indeed!
Yes; Obama will be a comparatively young man when his presidency ends. He will have many years in which to taste his defeat – his defeat that he tried his utmost, but failed to break you.