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‘I’m Maureen Dowd, and I’ve Been Had’

A support group for bitter pundits disappointed in Obama is quickly becoming necessary. (Jennifer Rubin discusses her article, and the White House's War on Rush, in the latest edition of Pajamas' weekly PJM Political radio show, now online here.)

by
Jennifer Rubin

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March 4, 2009 - 5:54 am

They may need a support group before the month is out. They could gather in New York or Washington where many victims reside. The meetings would start: “I’m Maureen [or David]. I’m a duped Barack voter. And I’m mad.”

The ranks indeed are filling with the disaffected and the disappointed — Chris Buckley, Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, David Gergen, and even that gynecological sleuth and blogger Andrew Sullivan. And then there is the very angry Marty Peretz. Their complaints are varied but expressed with equal amounts of remorse and bitterness. They all have been done wrong by Barack.

Chris Buckley is in mourning over the loss of fiscal sobriety and the sense he has enabled a spend-aholic:

Mr. Obama is proposing among everything else $1 trillion in new entitlements, and entitlement programs never go away, or in the oddly poetic bureaucratic jargon, “sunset.” He is proposing $1.4 trillion in new taxes, an appetite for which was largely whetted by the shameful excesses of American CEO corporate culture. And finally, he has proposed $5 trillion in new debt, one-half the total accumulated national debt in all U.S. history. All in one fell swoop.

He tells us that all this is going to work because the economy is going to be growing by 3.2 percent a year from now. Do you believe that? Would you take out a loan based on that? And in the three years following, he predicts that our economy will grow by 4 percent a year.

Maureen Dowd has multiple complaints. She’s miffed that the post-racial president’s attorney general is playing the race card and she too has had it on the spending and business-as-usual fronts:

In one of his disturbing spells of passivity, President Obama decided not to fight Congress and live up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign.

He’s been lecturing us on the need to prune away frills while the economy fizzles. He was slated to make a speech on “wasteful spending” on Wednesday.

“You know, there are times where you can afford to redecorate your house and there are times where you need to focus on rebuilding its foundation,” he said recently about the “hard choices” we must make. Yet he did not ask Congress to sacrifice and make hard choices; he let it do a lot of frivolous redecorating in its budget.

He reckons he’ll need Congress for more ambitious projects, like health care, and when he goes back to wheedle more bailout billions, given that A.I.G. and G.M. and our other corporate protectorates are burning through our money faster than we can print it and borrow it from the ever-more-alarmed Chinese.

Team Obama sounds hollow, chanting that “the status quo is not acceptable,” even while conceding that the president is accepting the status quo by signing a budget festooned with pork.

Obama spinners insist it was “a leftover budget.” But Iraq was leftover, too, and the president’s trying to end that. This is the first pork-filled budget from a new president who promised to go through the budget “line by line” and cut pork.

On Face the Nation on Sunday, Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, dismissed the bill as “last year’s business,” because most of it was written last year.

But given how angry Americans are, watching their future go up in smoke, the bloated bill counts as this year’s business.

It includes $38.4 million of earmarks sponsored or co-sponsored by President Obama’s labor secretary, Hilda Solis; $109 million Hillary Clinton signed on to; and $31.2 million in earmarks sought by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood with colleagues.

(Even Barack Obama was listed as one of the co-sponsors of a $7.7 million pet project for Tribally Controlled Postsecondary Vocational Institutions until he got his name taken off last week.)

And then there are the 16 earmarks worth $8.5 million that Emanuel put into the bill when he was a congressman, including money for streets in Chicago suburbs and a Chicago planetarium.

Then there’s David Brooks who like Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction, sounds like he is quite remorseful to have chosen the wrong date. Looking for a moderate, he wound up with a crazed leftist:

You wouldn’t know it some days, but there are moderates in this country — moderate conservatives, moderate liberals, just plain moderates. We sympathize with a lot of the things that President Obama is trying to do. We like his investments in education and energy innovation. We support health care reform that expands coverage while reducing costs.

But the Obama budget is more than just the sum of its parts. There is, entailed in it, a promiscuous unwillingness to set priorities and accept trade-offs. There is evidence of a party swept up in its own revolutionary fervor — caught up in the self-flattering belief that history has called upon it to solve all problems at once.

So programs are piled on top of each other and we wind up with a gargantuan $3.6 trillion budget. We end up with deficits that, when considered realistically, are $1 trillion a year and stretch as far as the eye can see. We end up with an agenda that is unexceptional in its parts but that, when taken as a whole, represents a social-engineering experiment that is entirely new. …

Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was. His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice. As Clive Crook, an Obama admirer, wrote in the Financial Times, the Obama budget “contains no trace of compromise. It makes no gesture, however small, however costless to its larger agenda, of a bipartisan approach to the great questions it addresses. It is a liberal’s dream of a new New Deal.”

And then there’s David Gergen who frets that not enough time is being spent on the economy (oh, that) and too much on an overly ambitious agenda. So he calls for a “course correction.”

Andrew Sullivan, back from his investigative work on the Sarah Palin pregnancy, has now discovered the fiscal conservatives have been had. Alas, his hopes for fiscal sobriety are being washed away in a spending spree worthy of a drunken sailor:

We are being presented with what can only be described as a massive increase in government spending and power with the only fiscal balance being wringing much more money from the successful. The president predicted a tight budget and spending control in his non-SOTU, and he appealed to fiscal conservatives by promising a long-term attack on entitlement spending. I see nothing here yet that fulfills that promise.

Meanwhile, Marty Peretz, who attested to candidate Obama’s pro-Israel and tough foreign policy bona fides during the campaign, now is incensed the president has put into a high level national security post Chas Freeman, the Israel-bashing toady of the Saudis who assigned responsibility “both ways” for 9/11 and bemoaned the Chinese didn’t crack down on the Tiananmen Square protesters quick enough. He pleads with the president to dump Freeman and writes in language as bitter as any scorned lover:

But Freeman’s real offense (and the president’s if he were to appoint him) is that he has questioned the loyalty and patriotism of not only Zionists and other friends of Israel, the great swath of American Jews and their Christian countrymen, who believed that the protection of Zion is at the core of our religious and secular history, from the Pilgrim fathers through Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. And how has he offended this tradition? By publishing and peddling the unabridged John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, with panegyric and hysteria. If Freeman believes that this book is the truth he can’t be trusted by anyone, least of all Barack Obama. I can’t believe that Obama wants to appoint someone who is quintessentially an insult to the patriotism of some many of his supporters, me included.

All in all it is one dismayed and bitter group, filled with recriminations and a bit of self-flagellation. And it’s not hard to recognize that, as in any grieving process, they have passed through denial (when all who criticized their beloved Obama were excoriated and ridiculed) and are in the second step: anger. They were misled or deluded into believing Obama  was a moderate or an indefatigable supporter of Israel or a fiscal grown-up or a reformer (take your pick).

They and the rest of the country are figuring out the bitter truth: Obama bears little resemblance to the moderate and soothing figure who tied up John McCain in knots. He bears even less resemblance to the Agent of Change. Rather he’s pretty much the Chicago pol who went to the Senate to be its most liberal member.

And for the wounded Obama supporters, we can offer just one bit of counsel: you have lots of company. There are trading floors filled with sympathetic souls and businesses filled with stunned executives. They didn’t get what they bargained for either. Just ask Jim Cramer. Oh yes, please do invite him to your sessions when he’s not busy with the “I lost my life’s savings” support group.

Jennifer Rubin blogs at the Washington Post.
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