Last year, as he looked in the mirror and saw a one-term proposition facing him, he began blaming not himself, but the system. Speaking to a DNC event in August 2011, he recalled what he hadn’t said in 2008, like a lawyer who had just found the greatest loophole ever:
When I said, “change we can believe in,” I didn’t say “change we can believe in tomorrow.” (Laughter.) Not “change we can believe in next week.” We knew this was going to take time, because we’ve got this big, messy, tough democracy.
Actually, as big, messy, tough democracies go, one in which your party completely controls Congress is about as easy as it gets. Obama had such a Congress for two years, and the one-term proposition he currently faces is largely a result of what he did during those two years — until a shellacking stopped him from doing more.
He rammed through ObamaCare on a purely partisan vote, using a hyper-partisan procedure, ignoring the message voters had repeatedly sent to him in opinion polls, town hall meetings, and the Massachusetts election. In March 2010, after he had pushed ObamaCare through the system like a proctologist in a hurry, 55 percent of the electorate wanted to repeal it; last month the percentage was still 55 percent. Since the Supreme Court has ruled ObamaCare constitutional, there is only one way left for the electorate to effectuate its desire for repeal.
He could not get his tax increases passed in his first two years — not even in a lame duck session of the Democratic Congress at the end of 2010, which had 50 shellacked Democrats in it who were not going to be coming back a month later, and who could have voted their “consciences” without fear of further political reprisal.
His massive cap-and-trade scheme failed even to make it to a vote in the Democratic Senate, after barely passing the House. His unserious budgets, with government spending and annual deficits maintained at historic highs, repeatedly got voted down 100-0; he felt no compulsion to submit a realistic one, or to demand that the Democratic-controlled Senate produce one of its own. He ignored the proposals from the commission he had established to reduce the debt and deficits, and he continued to pile on trillions in debt, having described such actions in 2008 as “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”
In 2012, he is still arguing to a skeptical electorate that the key to economic success is to transfer trillions more from the private economy to the government. He thinks the private sector is doing fine. He believes we can tax ourselves (or rather the 1%, or maybe the 10%) to prosperity, ignoring mountains of evidence that economies do better with lower tax rates that generate greater economic activity (and therefore ultimately more tax revenue).
And ObamaCare — whose costs don’t truly kick in until 2014 — looks like a fiscal tidal wave approaching the shore. He does not have a plan to save Medicare from bankruptcy, much less the costs of effectively extending Medicaid to the entire country through a mandate he said in 2008 was not a tax — and then in 2011, argued to the Supreme Court that it was.
These days, Obama talks repeatedly about how he told us in 2008 that it would take two terms and maybe even two presidents, but it is simply a new story to replace the very different tale he told us back then. What he did not say then, but which is undoubtedly true now, is that undoing the damage he has done will take a new president, and it may even take the new president two terms.