From the Middle East to Russia to our own southern border, Obama’s bills are coming due.
by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online
Often, crazy things seem normal for a time because logical catastrophes do not immediately follow.A deeply suspicious Richard Nixon systematically and without pushback for years undermined and politicized almost every institution of the federal government, from the CIA and the FBI to the IRS and the attorney general’s office. Nixon seemed to get away with it — until his second term. Once the public woke up, however, the eventual accounting proved devastating: resignation of a sitting president, prison sentences for his top aides, collapse of the Republican party, government stasis, a ruined economy, the destruction of the Vietnam peace accords that had led to a viable South Vietnam, the end of Henry Kissinger’s diplomatic breakthroughs, and a generation of abject cynicism about government. Did Nixon ever grasp that such destruction was the natural wage of his own paranoia?
In the post-Watergate climate of reform, for nearly three years a naïve Jimmy Carter gave utopian speeches about how American forbearance would end the Cold War and create a new world order based on human rights — until America’s abdication started to erode the preexisting global order. Scary things followed, such as the fall of the shah of Iran, the rise of Iranian theocracy, the taking of American hostages in Tehran, revolutions and insurrection throughout Central America, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, radical Islamists taking over Mecca, more gas lines, continued stagflation, and China invading Vietnam. Did the puritanical Carter ever understand what might be the consequences of his own self-righteousness in an imperfect world?
Barack Obama likewise has done some crazy things that seemed for years to have no ramifications. Unfortunately, typical of the ways of Nemesis (a bitter goddess who waits until the opportune moment to demand payment for past hubris), suddenly the bills for Obama’s six years of folly are coming due for the American people.
When a president occasionally fails to tell the truth, you get a scandal like the monitoring of the Associated Press reporters. When a president serially fails to tell the truth, you get that plus the scandals involving the IRS, the NSA, the VA, Benghazi, and too many others to mention.
The same is true abroad. The American public hardly noticed when Obama recklessly withdrew every peacekeeper from Iraq. Did he not boast of “ending the Iraq War”? It did not mind when the U.S. posted dates for withdrawal from Afghanistan. Trashing all the Bush–Cheney anti-terrorism protocols, from Guantanamo to renditions, did not make much sense, when such policies had worked and, in fact, were of use to Obama himself. But again, most Americans took no note. Apparently the terrorists did, however, and they regrouped even as the president declared them “on the run.”
Lecturing Israel while praising Islamist Turkey was likewise ignored. America snoozed as its president insidiously redefined its role in the Middle East as secondary to the supposed pivot to Asia. Each new correction in and of itself was comparatively minor; but in aggregate they began to unravel the U.S.-inspired postwar global order.
At first, who cared whether Iran serially violated every Obama deadline on halting nuclear enrichment? Did we worry that Libya, where Obama was proud of having led from behind, was descending into Somalia? Few Americans were all that bothered over Obama’s empty order to Syrian president Bashar Assad to step down, or over Obama’s later vacuous red-line threats that bombs would follow any use by Assad of chemical weapons.
Few noted that Obama lied to the nation that a video had caused the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, that Obama had known who the real terrorist perpetrators were but had ordered no immediate action to kill or capture them, and that Americans had been engaged in mysterious and still unexplained covert activities in Benghazi. After all that, we still shrugged when the president traded five top terrorist leaders for an alleged American deserter.
Trashing George W. Bush’s policy toward Vladimir Putin while promising a new reset approach (illustrated with a plastic red button) to an aggressive dictator raised few eyebrows at the time. Nor did many Americans worry that our Pacific allies were upset over Chinese and North Korean aggression that seemed to ignore traditional U.S. deterrence.
We were told that only Obama-haters at home had catalogued the president’s apologies abroad, his weird multicultural bowing to authoritarians, his ahistorical speeches about mythical Islamic achievements, his surreal euphemisms for radical Islam, terrorism, and jihadism, his shrill insistence about civilian trials for terrorists and closing Guantanamo, or the radical cutbacks at the Pentagon, coupled with the vast increase in entitlement spending.
But after six years of all that, our allies have got the message that they are on their own, our enemies that there are few consequences to aggression, and neutrals that joining with America does not mean ending up on the winning side. The result is that the Middle East we have known since the end of World War II has now vanished
Supposedly crackpot fantasies about a worldwide “caliphate” are becoming reified. What were once dismissed as conspiracy theories about an “Iranian arc” — from a nuclear Tehran through Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon to the borders of Israel to the Shiite minorities in the Gulf kingdoms — do not seem so crazy.
The idea of visiting the Egyptian pyramids or hoping to reengage with a reforming Libya is absurd. The best of the Middle East — Israel, Jordan, Kurdistan — no longer count on us. The worst — ISIS, Iran, Syria — count on us to remain irrelevant or worse. Old allies in the Gulf would probably trust Israel or Russia more than the Obama administration. In the next two years, if Obama continues on his present course, we are going to see things that we could not have imagined six years ago in the Middle East, as it reverts to premodern Islamic tribalism.
The same trajectory has been followed on the home front. Americans at first were amused that the great conciliator — and greatest political recipient on record of Wall Street cash — went after the rich with an array of hokey epithets and slurs (fat cats, corporate-jet owners, Vegas junketeers, limb-lopping and tonsil-pulling doctors, business owners who should not profit, or should know when they have made enough money, or should admit they didn’t build their own businesses). Few connected the dots when the polarizing attorney general — the John Mitchell of our time — referred to African-Americans as “my people” and all the rest of the nation as “cowards.” Did we worry that the craziest things seem to come out of the president’s own mouth — the Trayvon-like son he never had, the stereotyping police, the absence of a “smidgen” of corruption in the Lois Lerner IRS scandal, or the mean Republicans who “messed” with him?
The president before the 2012 elections lamented to Latino groups that he did not have dictatorial powers to grant amnesty but urged them in the meantime to “punish our enemies” — a sort of follow-up to his 2008 “typical white person” incitement. Who was bothered that with “a pen and a phone” Obama for the first time in American history emasculated the U.S. Border Patrol, as part of a larger agenda of picking and choosing which federal laws the executive branch would enforce?
Those choices seemed to be predicated on two extralegal criteria: Did a law contribute to Obama’s concept of social justice, and did it further the progressive political cause? If the answer was no to either, the statute was largely unenforced. No president since World War II has done more to harm the U.S. Constitution — by ordering the executive branch not to enforce particular laws, by creating by fiat laws never enacted by Congress, by monitoring the communications of journalists and average Americans, by making appointments contrary to law — to the apparent yawns of the people.
Too few also seemed to care that almost everything the president had promised about Obamacare — keep your health plan, retain your doctor, save money on your premiums, sign up easily online, while we were lowering the annual deficit and reducing medical expenditures — was an abject lie. In such a climate, Obama felt no need to issue accurate data about how many Americans had lost their health plans, how many had simply transferred to Obamacare from Medicaid, how many had actually paid their premiums, or how many were still uninsured. The media ignored the serial $1 trillion deficits, the chronic high unemployment and low growth, the nonexistence of the long-promised “summer of recovery,” and the nonappearance of “millions of shovel-ready and green jobs.” The fact that electrical-power rates, gasoline prices, and food costs have soared under Obama as wages have stagnated has never really been noticed. Nor have the record numbers of Americans on food stamps and disability insurance.
Meanwhile, as Obama has refused to enforce immigration law, the result is chaos. Tens of thousands of children are flooding across our border illegally, on the scent of Obama’s executive-order amnesties. Advocates of open borders, such as progressive grandees Mark Zuckerberg and Nancy Pelosi, assume that these impoverished Third World children will not enroll in the private academies attended by their children or grandchildren, or need housing in one of their vacation estates, or crowd their specialists’ waiting rooms. They do not worry about the effects of illegal immigration on the wages of low-income Americans. Dealing first-hand with the ramifications of open borders is for unenlightened, illiberal little people.
Obama’s economic legacy is rarely appreciated. He has institutionalized the idea that unemployment between 6 and 7 percent is normal, that annual deficits over $500 billion reflect frugality, that soaring power, food, and fuel costs are not proof of inflation, that zero interest rates are the reward for thrift, that higher taxes are always a beginning, never an end, and that there is no contradiction when elite progressives — the Obamas, the Clintons, the Warrens — trash the 1-percenters, while doing everything in their power to live just like them.
We are the roost and, to paraphrase the president’s former spiritual adviser, Obama’s chickens are now coming home to us.
10 thoughts on “Our Roost, Obama’s Chickens”
“…then the end of the Roman republic was at hand, and nothing could save it. The laws were the same as they had been, but the people behind the laws had changed, and so the laws counted for nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt, 1911.
The attitudinal change in the people fifty years ago, the complete collapse of the historical American people’s self-confidence and self-respect under the guise of great moral crusades, was the precursor of the actual demographic changes we have suffered since and are still suffering. “The people” has become the Balkans within one lifetime.The Republic is gone.
I am concerned , but will not be surprised, if we have revolution like the French Revolution, with the reprisal against the political elite ,as they were treated (slaughtered) and what happened to them and the aftermath that followed.
EssEm and Thomas, please. American is the Balkans? It faces something like the French Revolution? You’re way over the top.
I think certainly the most tragic part of this account is in fact not the villainy of Obama but the apathy of the people on whom the villainy has been committed.
This is an excellent summary of the Obama administration to date. An interesting question might be — what holds this guy back from doing far worse? Maybe, partly, reality itself but I contend that Obama’s Dems are pleading with him to cool it before this November’s election as they will reap the whirlwind.
Prediction: after the election, regardless of results, Obama will fully flower for his last 2 years and ALL the chickens will come home to roost. With nothing to lose and no feedback or controlling forces, Obama will do all he really wants to accomplish, establishing his legacy as it were. Buckle up for this part of the ride!
Eventually the good and the bad meet up. See ya there.
Mr. Popper: Have you visited the Southern border? Perhaps that would give you a picture of the problems you could understand.
One wishes that Obama would study Sergeant S. Prentiss, the most brilliant orator America has ever produced! Where is the secret chart of Obama’s Chickens and Potatoes of “Foreign Policy?” Where has his War on Terror gone? What continues to frustrate me about Obama is that he cannot answer his own question which has loomed large since his election: “If it is not working, what do you do?” The President still does not understand how a successful foreign policy works, the gathering storm and the nature of war requires better strategic planning.
Obama has not served in the best interest of Americans. On the contrary, he has greatly weakened and accelerated the demise of a great society. Nazi’s, Communists and enemy moles would have celebrated to have been as effective.
Consider leaving a handwritten note to the following campers.
If your children see you leaving your car keys
at home and taking a taxi to go out to a party,
they will follow suit. If you allow the same people to control all or any of these elements with no double-checks by other
staff or alternating tasks, expect theft to occur.