The Fantasy House

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

It All Failed?

By Fantasy House I do not mean — or rather only mean — Barack Obama’s La-La land in which Austrians speak Austrian, Hawaii is in Asia, Afghans speak Arabic, the Maldives lie off Argentina, there are seven additional states, servicemen are zombie corpse-men, and Kansas twisters kill 10,000 at a time. Rather I refer to the fantasies that Obama employs to deal with a very real world he inhabits. The president just told Univision that you “cannot change Washington from the inside.” [1] In other words, the president just shattered his own four-year fantasy that he, like Lincoln, would take the train [2] from Illinois to DC, not just to remake America, but also to change the very way things are done there. Now Obama accepts that the second coming of an Illinois savior has failed, not because he tried to change the ethics of Washington (he never did), but because upon arrival he almost immediately did in Washington what he was used to doing in Chicago. And so lobbying, insider politics to help campaign bundlers, private deals to pass healthcare, the revolving door, and nonstop campaigning all replaced hope and change. I suppose in place of change from the “inside,” he now envisions more “outside” executive orders like the de facto Dream Act, having the EPA shut down more coal plants, stopping more federal energy leases, granting more recess appointments, and extending more executive privilege. Shattering Glass The president’s illusions about the economy have, one by one, been exploded. Do we even remember the 2010 “summer of recovery”? [3]Or “millions of new green jobs” that ended in Solyndra-like realties? “GM is alive, Osama bin Laden is dead” — well, sort of, in the sense that the government can take any insolvent company, inject $25 billion into it, and keep it alive until the next election. Somehow we are to console ourselves that 43 months of 8% plus unemployment is success. The president keeps bragging that he has created 4.6 million new jobs. But who cares about the actual number created, if the number lost is the far greater figure? Do businesses brag that they grossed $4.6 million when their bottom line is a net loss of $500,000? The jobs fantasy has also evaporated in the reality that we have lost more jobs than gained under Obama, millions no longer look for work, and the percentage of adults working is at near-record lows. Where did the fifteen million more on food stamps come from? Check your tire pressure; tune your cars up; “bankrupt” coal companies; “skyrocketing” electricity prices, Steven Chu’s dream of gas prices at “European levels” — all that only ended up at $4-a-gallon gas. Yet we still don’t know whether that price spike is supposed to be welcomed [4], in the green sense of helping to sell subsidized Volts and “cutting our carbon footprint.” The deficit? What deficit and debt? The president insists to David Letterman that he doesn’t know [5] what the aggregate debt is — only that whatever it actually is, George Bush caused it! He barnstorms on the idea that ending the war in Afghanistan (where was the supposed “peace dividend” from Iraq that was supposed to cut the deficit?) will help pay down the $1 trillion-plus he borrows each year. Yet taking 39.5% from top incomes and hiking capital gains taxes will not even give us a 20% reduction in the annual deficit. So after the next tax hike, then what? We go to 50%, 55%, 60% — to pay our fair share for millions of more green jobs? Passing on This Bunch You can scream at, tax, regulate, and berate an employer, but you cannot force him, not yet anyway, to go out and hire and buy new equipment. Obama tried all that and almost single-handedly has ensured that a weak recovery of June 2009 would become a permanent weaker recovery. All the one-percent rhetoric — fat cat, pay your fair share, corporate jet owners, now is not the time to profit, spread the wealth, redistribution, you didn’t build that — did was to terrify the private sector, flush with savings, into paralysis. There are trillions of dollars on the sidelines because employers don’t know what Obamacare will cost them since Obama does not know either, don’t know when the next presidential slur against them will surface, don’t know what new regulation will curtail productivity, don’t know when printing billions in new money will fuel inflation, don’t know which particular company will be shut down, or don’t know what public oil and gas lease will be pulled. The tone Obama has set is also pure fantasy. Bush, we were told, was “unpatriotic”[6] in running up the debt to $11 trillion, but Obama insists that he has never used the slur “unpatriotic” against anyone. And he has no idea what the debt is after he added $5 trillion to it. “You didn’t build that” supposedly did not mean that business people should thank government for creating their success, but also that they should thank government for their success. What did Obama’s reference to an imagined son resembling Trayvon Martin mean? Who were the “enemies” Obama and the Latinos were supposed to “punish”? Whose faces were we supposed to get in, and whose knives were we supposed to bring guns against? Whom did the “stupidly” acting police “stereotype” — “typical” white persons”? The World Sized Up Obama In foreign policy, the fantasies proved even scarier. A young, JFKish, Nobel Peace laureate, biracial, hip, cool, and beloved president — with a Muslim patrimony no less — would charm the Middle East the way he had mesmerized American with “hope and change,” “yes, we can,” and, less grandly, “make no mistake about it.” Obama assumed that all real problems began with Bush, and would end with Bush gone — given that he would apologize, bow, and contextualize to the world about the sins of the pre-Obama America, the unexceptional country that did nasty things when “I was three months old.” Once the cooled and now drier continents grasped that American was “on their side,” and not entangled with the Brits, the Israelis, the Czechs, the Poles, and all the old staid “allies,” new possibilities would become endless. “Radical Islam” would give way to all sorts of euphemisms; terrorists were to be the merely accused and tried in civil courts in New York. Guantanamo would release all its political prisoners. Renditions, tribunals and preventative detention would end. The Al-Arabiya interview, the Cairo speech, and the notorious “apology tour’ would win oppressed peoples over, if not to our side, at least over to Obama’s — given that “they hate us” not because of who we are (as in vacations to Martha’s Vineyard, golf, prep schools, jet-fueled junkets, and rap and hip-hop music), but because of what we used to do before 2009. Apparently, European socialist models would spring up in the Middle East — the region a sort of hybridized half-socialist Greece, half-Islamist Turkey. That fantasy cruelly ended with the horrific death of an American ambassador in Libya, the graphic details of which the administration will not disclose, given that the truth would confirm that we were not prepared when we should have been, amid policies towards Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and Iran that are imploding. What are we left with? The Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, Mr. Morsi, just summed it up when he outlined the conditions under which his country would be willing to accept aid and remain friendly. The State Department is funding apology ads on Islamic television, and we are still using all the rhetorical power of the White House to hound one crude filmmaker, a modern Ares [7] who supposedly had the power to set the Muslim world afire against Barack Obama. A Final Note: Do Not Take Counsel of Your Fears There is much criticism of Romney that, despite all of the above Obama fantasies, he still is only either even or slightly behind in the polls — and perhaps less well off in the swing states. But what is surprising is not that Romney is not ahead, but that he is even close — much, much closer than was Reagan in 1980 at a much later time when he ran against an even weaker incumbent and faced far less media bias. On October 26, 1980, a week before the voting, Reagan was worn out from his constant, off-topic gaffes, media hounding, an incumbent president who had dodged two debates, in-fighting among his campaign staff, and a Gallup poll that showed him 8 points down — with one last chance for a single debate. There is not really any free press anymore, but instead a Ministry of Truth, in which PBS, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, NewsweekTime, AP, McClatchy, and Reuters are de factoextensions of the Obama campaign [8] — far more highbrow and adept in disguising their partisanship than an overt Hannity or Limbaugh. Their “journalists” are fed favorable administration leaks when in the old days they had to sue to publish a hit piece. They care little whether ambassadors are left unguarded, or that the US suffers the most costly attack on its air assets since Vietnam, or that administration officials offer lies about Libya that they know cannot be true. Remember that the grandees of the universities, the foundations, the arts, the unions, and the government employees are all heavily invested in Obama — the class warrior who assures those of the upper classes that class and racial resentment will be turned against others. Remember the powers of presidential incumbency. Remember that millions are still mesmerized by teleprompted eloquence. Remember that each month thousands more go on food stamps, receive disability insurance, obtain unemployment insurance extensions, and are excused from the federal income tax rolls — and are loyal to those who enable them and hostile to those who might not. Remember that to criticize Obama still almost immediately earns the charge of “racist.” It is not easy to overcome all that. This is an election of smiley fantasies versus a harsh wakeup call to prevent looming financial and overseas catastrophes in the next year or so. And fantasies, not reality, are what half the population may now live for. That Romney is close is a miracle; that he still can win is beyond a miracle.

URLs in this post: [1] “cannot change Washington from the inside.”: [2] would take the train: [3] the 2010 “summer of recovery”? : [4] is supposed to be welcomed: [5] he doesn’t know: [6] was “unpatriotic”: [7] Ares: [8] extensions of the Obama campaign:

©2012 Victor Davis Hanson
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