by Victor Davis Hanson
Say It Ain’t So, Barack
Some of the more naïve who voted for Obama were taken back by his sudden rush to take over insurance companies, banks, student loans, and the auto industry.
Did not they vote for a moderate, who in technocratic fashion would guide us on a centrist path, talk about Niebuhr, surrounded by Ivycrat experts and devoid of Bush’s ideological zeal? Oh well, that was no matter — that was just one straw.
But then soon, others wondered how a truther and racial demagogue like Van Jones or a Mao aficionado like Anita Dunn ever got into the White House. This was last year about the time we were hearing from Democrats of a 50-year new liberal majority, and from Republican triangulators that they got the married, lean, cool, postracial rock star family man and we got the pink and pudgy divorced Beck and Rush.
No matter: Every president attracts the unhinged. So why, the voters thought, not give a pass to all that — or even to Obama’s own embarrassing “beer summit” (presidents, you see, have free afternoons and so can involve themselves in campus politics when favorite academics rail about racial unfairness). This presidency, you also see, was going to be one long beer summit, where Obama listened and then gave a 50/50 hope and change speech while he rammed through an Ayers agenda.
Things happen, so such a little straw like that added little weight to our collective backs — no more than the strange stuff like the “wise Latina” remark of Obama’s new Supreme Court judge, or the “nation of cowards” blast from the attorney general.
That Pile of Straws — It Keeps Rising
Healthcare reinvention, or so some thought, would be postponed or scaled down, given the new mega deficits and Obama’s centrist promises. But then he smashed it through by hyper-partisanship, buying votes, and dissimulating about its real cost. Even independents felt that more straws were adding more weight after that six-month ordeal. After all, healers don’t do things like that.
Surely, he would learn from the blood on the floor? Nope — we are now suing Arizona for trying to enforce unenforced federal law? Most Americans support Arizona’s popular corrective, and would rather see Obama sue himself for not following his own laws. Add a twig or two over that.
In any case, all that acrimony is over, so we at least get back to moderate government? Hardly: cap and trade and amnesty are already being demogogued, while using the crisis of BP no less to further a mad green agenda. We can expect more of the political purchases and backroom deal making we saw in healthcare, though to less success this time. Our backs are getting more burdened.
Then there is our new foreign policy of bowing, apologizing, and reaching out to thugs in Cuba, Iran, and Syria, while snubbing liberal democracies like Britain, Colombia, and Israel. Why send a video to a creepy bully like Ahmadinejad, and snub brave dissidents in the streets of Teheran?
All that accomplished was to embolden those who hate America and depress those who like us. Does anyone think Obama’s visit to Turkey won that country over, or his Cairo outreach charmed Arabs, or his bow to China earned anything, or being checkmated by Putin was impressive? Lots of straws were piled on with all that.
The Final Straw?
So you see, it’s never just one thing with a holistic Obama. Unemployment is not good; trying to play it down by creating a new notion of jobs saved or created only makes it worse. The debt is soaring, and blaming the red ink on Bush has a shelf-life of, well, about 18 months.
Then came BP. Presidents can hardly be held accountable for oil gushing from 5000 feet. But Obama had already established two principles: One, presidents surely must be held accountable for natural disasters. That’s why he damned Bush as “achingly slow” and showing “unconscionable ineptitude” over Katrina. Google “Obama” and “Katrina,” and you will find hundreds of Obama “moments” over the last five years when he used Katrina to raise money, solidify his African-American base, ingratiate himself to left-wing voters, and campaign for office. Katrina was a sort of rhetoric flourish for Obama with which he gussied up his America-is-racist theme, Bush-is-incompetent trope, Cheney-is-corrupt theme, and conservatives-are-heartless talking point.
“This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass. His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.”
Second, Obama was not as most mere mortals. He had an uncanny ability to still the seas, heal the planet, and arrive at just the right moment to offer us salvation. False divinities such as these fall harder than mere mortals, especially when their feet of clay crumble. There are only so many times false prophets can climb the mount to lecture down to us.
At some point, along this devolution, our collective camel’s back snapped. Right now, millions of voters are quietly fuming and saying to themselves: “OK, enough is enough. That’s one too many straws, and I am going to take it out on them in November.”
Oh, not everyone says this, in part out of fear of being called a racist; in part embarrassed that they were had by Obama; and in part, given American fair play, to give their guy a chance. But that only makes it worse, since the polls, I think, don’t quite gauge the growing levels of discontent.
Add in that Obama’s base was not especially interested in the issues as much as Himself. And He is not on the ballot. So base voters may well not turn out in such droves. Remember, this time the Republicans don’t need a candidate; not being Obama is enough until gut check time in 2012.
Empire of Dirt
There is another problem for the Democrats: I don’t think Obama cares much about a midterm correction for reasons other than his own narcissism. One, he already is a laureate and post-presidential historical figure. If Bill Clinton or Al Gore is any guide, he can make a billion or two sermonizing and philosophizing for the next forty years. If Jimmy Carter can create an empire of self-absorption, any president can.
I think the presidency was always sort of a warm-up, a preparation for worldwide messiah-in-chief. It won’t be too bad a life — sort of like living in the Edwards mansion talking about marital bliss and the wretched “other America,” or Gulfstreaming into Oprah country while hawking Green, Inc. for those down in the lowlands. Once the left gets over the dismal record of Obama’s actual governance, they can afford once again to be mesmerized by four more decades of Obama’s planet healing tomfoolery. (Once Van Jones can’t do any more damage, he is a sort of left-wing cult figure.)
“Whoopee ti yi yo, git along little dogies. It’s your misfortune and none of my own …”
Second, in prep for all that, it might be better anyway for Obama to have a hostile “them” Congress that he can perpetually run against. That can take the place of a now stale “Bush did it.” As it is, the Democrats give Obama what he wants, and what he wants is not what we the people want, at least if polls are any indication.
But with an obdurate opposition in power, Obama can speechify and do what he does best: demagogue, soaring with we should and must do without much worry about the icky details of actual implementation that never will come due to all those right-wing Beck and Hannity types. As for the November fate of 40-60 Democratic House members and 6-10 senators, again, they were never as pure as Obama anyway.
And so they too go the way of Rev. Wright and Van Jones — with a mellifluous Obama send-off of “Whoopee ti yi yo.”
©2010 Victor Davis Hanson