We Americans know not what we do.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
In just 20 months, President Obama’s polls have crashed. From near 70 percent approval, they have fallen to well below 50 percent. Over 70 percent of the public disapproves of the Democratically controlled Congress. Hundreds of thousands of angry voters flocked to hear Glenn Beck & Co. on the Washington Mall. Indeed, things have gotten so bad that the cherubic Mormon Beck might outdraw Barack Obama himself on any given Sunday.
All this was not supposed to be — and it has evoked a lot of anger.
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson thunders, “The American people are acting like a bunch of spoiled brats.”
You see, hoi polloi want “easy solutions” — like trying to close an open border, cut federal spending, and balance the budget. Instead, they should be manning up to pay more for gas, more in taxes, and more for entitlements for more to come across the border.
Worse still, the uninformed voter cannot seem to appreciate the brilliance of Barack Obama, who has deigned to suffer on our behalf, in offering only unpopular but necessary solutions. Obama has tried his best to prepare an immature nation for amnesty, borrowing at record levels, cap and trade, and additional trillions of national debt — the castor oil that the obese and now constipated public for some reason just won’t swallow.
Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution chimes in with the thought that Neanderthal Americans can’t really distinguish between cause and effect. So in clueless fashion, they blame big deficits, big spending, and high unemployment on Obama, when what they’re really afraid of is the “browning of America.” In other words, we remain a nation of primitives resisting the future. “Successful black and brown professionals have had to learn to be comfortable in a sea of white faces, but most white Americans have not experienced the reverse. And many are not eager to have that experience. While some prognosticators were naïve enough to believe that Obama’s election signaled the beginning of a post-racial era, it prompted something altogether different: a backlash against the browning of America.”
Vanity Fair just ran yet another hit piece on the now-worn subject of the ogre Sarah Palin. Uppity Sarah, you see, is still on her hind legs — even after the 2008 swat from the Katie Couric set, the jogging-suit photos, and the true-story revelations from the philosopher Levi Johnston.
Worse still, Sarah is no longer quite the white-trash yokel with the snowmobiling husband and pregnant teenage daughter that so appealed to Cynthia Tucker’s backlash America. Instead, Palin has had the gall to have devolved into a fake yokel, with Michelle Obama–like fashion pretensions. SoVanity Fair shocks us with the dirt that the now-clothes-hungry former mayor of Wasilla is making some money speaking. She is not the sandwich-making mom of five that she used to be. And she doesn’t really do the moose-and-fish thing any more.
Still, in reading Vanity Fair’s bill of particulars, we wonder, “Compared to what?” Is Ms. Palin making any more money than the aggregate $100 million collected by good ol’ boy Bill Clinton — as he jetted his way around the globe between 2001 and 2009, offering his “aw shucks” global initiatives to any creepy foreign thug who would pony up the near-million-dollar fee? Are the now-orphaned Palin children missing their careerist mother more than, say, the Obama children missed their absentee father huckstering on the campaign trail for two years in 2007–2008? And is Ms. Palin really less of a game-eating shooter than the duck-hunting camouflaged John Kerry was in 2004?
The New York Times is just as let down with the volatile American mob that has stormed out in the middle of the sermon on the mount — after once so bravely thronging to the “god” who assured us that he would stop the flooding and cool the planet. Vero possumus indeed.
Americans, and even liberal New Yorkers, poll over 70 percent opposed to the so-called Ground Zero mosque — even after our president gave a courageous standing-ovation pep talk to a group of anguished Muslims at a White House Ramadan dinner. “New Yorkers,” the Times scoffed, “like other Americans, have a way to go.” My god, you would have thought that we had given a discount to moveon.org to run a slanderous “General Betray Us” ad, as an American general came back from the front to Washington to save a war.
The president himself is grieved by these polls and the Beck-led protests. Indeed, he derides it all as the “silly season.” He does not mean “silly” as in Michelle Obama’s Marbella–to–Martha’s Vineyard odyssey, or his own mini-recession summits on the golf links. Instead, like Robinson and Tucker, he is bewildered that millions don’t appreciate that our godhead is “making decisions that are not necessarily good for the nightly news and not good for the next election, but for the next generations.” I suppose here the president means that he is on schedule to add more debt than all previous presidents combined — just the sort of bravery that the “next generations” who will pay for it will appreciate.
In the case of Obama worship, the tone is always set at the top. So we are back to 2008, when candidate Obama likewise attributed any rejection to the inability of yokel America to appreciate his inspired leadership — “it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
In short, a frustrated America has let the liberal elite down. And it is all the more disheartening when you think that just two years ago we proved sort of redeemable by electing Barack Obama — amid the hysteria following the financial panic of September 2008, the lackluster campaign of John McCain, Obama’s own faux-centrist veneer, the glow of electing America’s first African-American president, and the first orphaned election since 1952 when no incumbent of either party was running.
Apparently the liberal elite did not consider that perfect storm of events that elected a northern liberal in a way that had been impossible with George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and John Kerry. Instead, they really believed that Obama’s election was proof that at last America had shed its odious -isms and -ologies. America was now ready for an updated FDR New Deal — as if, after seven decades, America had never tasted Social Security, unemployment and disability insurance, a 40-hour work week, and trillions in unfunded pensions and entitlements. In this “never let a crisis go to waste” teachable moment, the cognitive elite was convinced that America had at last crossed the liberal threshold and so evolved from the passé equality of opportunity to the promised equality of result.
But now a grouchy elite and petulant president see that they were sorely mistaken about us, and Mr. Obama’s election was more flukish than predestined. Americans were given government takeovers of business, multi-trillion-dollar deficits, promised higher taxes, a path to socialized medicine, and an end to building the odious border fence — with, to top it all off, accusations from the likes of Van Jones and Eric Holder, apologies and bows abroad, and the beer summit. And yet the rustic ingrates are rejecting both the benefactor and his munificence.
Forgive us, Barack Obama, for we know not what we do.
©2010 Victor Davis Hanson