by Victor Davis Hanson
NRO’s The Corner
At the root of the president’s problems lies an erosion of public trust in his competence and his credibility. Voters simply do not believe much of what he says any more, whether or not they otherwise agree with his agenda. The old tonic, teleprompted “hope and change” banalities, has become a caricature, and his empty gestures are fooling few these days.
Borrow nearly $800 million to prevent 10 percent unemployment? Joblessness hit that mark anyway, leaving the president to claim credit for its not going to 15 percent. Close Guantanamo? Two years later, it is now supposedly Congress’s fault that he cannot. The deficit? It’s odd to brag about cutting a few billion while running up over $1.5 trillion in new annual debt. Immigration? He has talked about getting tough on employers, but at the same time has sued Arizona and given up on the fence. Bush’s once-demonic anti-terrorism protocols? Current policy is to adopt them all and step up the targeted killings while using “reset” euphemisms.
Going negative on Republicans and appealing to his shrinking base will not hide the fact that, on just about every issue he’s contemplating — amnesty, cap-and-trade, deficit spending, higher and new taxes — he’s polling worse than on healthcare, which lost him 10 points in the polls.
And rather than presenting the public with pleasant people to carry through this unpopular program, we get instead Van Jones and Anita Dunn, the energy secretary and his lunatic assertions on California farms, the labor secretary and her silly videos assuming non-enforcement of immigration laws, a NASA chief who blathers about making Muslims feel good, and a new recess-appointed health czar who praises redistributive healthcare. And Climategate and Al Gore’s implosion discredited cap-and-trade exactly when Obama was ready to push it down the nation’s throat. Not pretty, all that.
What is strange about all this is how the clueless behavior only intensifies. We expect each day another crazy outburst from another fringe appointee, another “battle” to push through something the public does not want — all overseen by the “healer” of “no more red state/blue state” fame.
In short, in just 18 months, Obama has ended talk of permanent Democratic majorities and may well do to the Democratic party what Carter did in 1980 and Clinton in 1994, all while taking a once-obsequious press down with him. With idols like Obama, Mort Zuckerman, Chris Matthews, and Evan Thomas hardly need enemies.
Overseas, so far, our nation has been lucky, but the world abroad is likely to reap what Obama has sown, and soon. “Bush did it” whining, “reset” diplomacy, outreach to thugs, serial apologies, and a habit of treating allies as neutrals or enemies and enemies as new friends — with this kind of foreign policy, some bad actor is bound to try a Falkands, a Kuwait, or a Georgia to gauge our response, which in turn will determine the behavior of other nefarious agents.
Stranger still, all this took place in a period when Obama had all the cards of public good will — furor at Republicans between 2006 and 2008, Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, and a media with hagiographic tendencies. It’s hard to blow all that in less than two years, but that’s where we are.
©2010 Victor Davis Hanson