by Victor Davis Hanson
Here’s the conclusion to the saga of Obama. I left off  with Chapter Four and why the Obama locomotive went off the rails after only a year.
Chapter Five — The Verdict Is Still Out
So here we are after a year with the president below 50% in the polls, the progressive dream for a bit stalled, and the media uncertain whether to press ahead with their Ministry of Truth homage, or to bail before Obama shreds their last vestiges of disinterested credibility and takes them down with him. Or is that an overstatement?
I confess I am not entirely confident that this third great attempt in the last three decades to become Europe can be so easily stopped (and yet in just 12 months we saw the greatest decline in popularity of any first-year president in poll-recorded history).
So why the doubt?
The enormous borrowing for a time may spark an inflation-driven expansion timed to coincide with the November election. GDP growth will accelerate while worries about mega-deficits, stagflation, and persistent unemployment will, for a while, be put off to 2011. Much of the TARP money will be released in late summer, and it will create a temporary uplifting effect, analogous to the final binge of a soon to be maxed-out credit card.
We also have not quite yet seen the bitter pushback: expect a renewed “Bush did it” offensive, the promiscuous playing of the racial card to stifle dissent, and stimulus money lavished on everyone from train aficionados to solar panel producers. Do not underestimate either the role of the SEIU or Acorn-like groups during registration and balloting in key close run congressional races.
Americans have never given up on a president so early. To do so would mean to a majority of voters not merely that they were wrong, but terribly wrong. To admit that is difficult; to admit that so early is terribly difficult.
While much criticism is made of the president’s scripted eloquence, his reliance on the teleprompter, his unease with repartee, his awkwardness in question and answer, nonetheless he is skilled with the teleprompter, and much of his message to many of the people can be teleprompted.
After all, that is in part how a two-year senator got elected in the first place. And as a rhetorician, Obama is skilled in weaving alternate realities. For you reader, his recent exegesis of his broken promises to put the healthcare debate on C-SPAN (it was sort of aired, didn’t you know that, dummies) was preposterous. But admit as well that such a bold alibi came right out of the mouth of Saruman in his Orthanc — mellifluous, assured, seamlessly shameless. It would make even Tartuffe proud. Obama’s art is more than just teleprompted eloquence.
And Obama offers his best rhetorical performances when tottering at the abyss, as we saw with his Rev. Wright sophistry.
It won’t be enough for conservatives to say they are not Obama, and not ready to become a socialist Belgium. They need far more — a systematic agenda that outlines exactly how Americans are to become fiscally solvent, what and how much should be cut, a vow to end the congressional culture of corruption and become Spartan in our congressional habits, a confident energy policy that encourages nuclear, natural gas, and oil drilling to tide us over to new sources of energies, and a new resolve to enforce our borders, and end the naïve posturing of treating our war against Islamic jihadism as some sort of interesting legal debate that bounces around the philosophy department lounge.
This election the stakes are not just the particular career of yet another politician, but the very way our United States will fare for a generation. Rarely has the Left so ambitiously and brazenly set out a statist agenda, to radically transform America by establishing such gargantuan deficits that a variety of tax increases to prevent bankruptcy will mean that the nation’s entrepreneurial class will pay between 60 and 65% of their incomes in taxes —“spreading the wealth” in pursuit of “redistributive change.” Since the economy experienced GDP growth over 5% in the last quarter, these record deficits are more than stimulus. They are unabashedly ideological in nature. My only puzzlement is whether Obama is primarily interested in the growing of government per se, so that new millions of loyal constituents can either administer or receive entitlements — or his primary interest is in piling up red-ink to such a degree that record new state income, federal income, payroll, capital gains, and property taxes will radically redistribute income: the entrepreneur will accept that he can keep scarcely 40% of his gross income, and can’t pass on his life’s work without 45-55% in inheritance taxes to a government to redistribute to more “deserving” others, and in despair accept his fate that he is just a cog in the wheel like everyone else. (E.g., So why do the extra work, when the government will take it while alive and after death?)
With such stakes, it is a great time to be alive in the arena. And each according to his station should be excited that he can, must rise to the occasion to ward off this latest challenge to the old notion of a republic of free and independent citizens — who aren’t quite yet willing to surrender what the great generations of the past suffered so much to pass on to us.
©2010 Victor Davis Hanson