“Sure, the president has another two years in office, but he is now the lamest of lame ducks. He is soon to face a House majority that is one of the most Republican since the 1920s, and a Senate, we hope, about to be taken over by a Republican majority. But more than this, he seems to have no friends, and few allies, on Capitol Hill,” Jay Cost writes in the latest issue of the Weekly Standard:
One fact of politics that the president never fully grasped is that Congress, not the White House, is the center of our political system. Sure, the president lives in a fancy house, enjoys a full-time chef, and has “Hail to the Chief” played when he enters a room. But Congress is—as Stanford’s Morris Fiorina once put it—“the keystone of the Washington establishment.” The Framers gave pride of place to Congress, making it Article I of the Constitution, and were so worried about its potential power they divided it into two. Ideally, the modern president can use his prestige and acumen to lead Congress, but Obama has fallen far from that ideal. He has treated Congress in a supercilious manner, burned his bridges with Republican leaders, and alienated even Democrats.
Couple that with his misunderstanding of the role of the presidency, along with his MSNBC-level (or Jonathan Chait-level) hatred of anyone with an (R) after his or her name and his Harvard faculty lounge-level loathing of America in general, and it’s easy to see how his administration was doomed to fail. (As indeed, those of us who didn’t drink the Kool-Aid warned in late 2008 and 2009.)
As Jonah Goldberg notes in his latest G-File (emailed today, posted online at NRO tomorrow), the efforts by Obama’s operatives with bylines to explain his failures away were initially fun to watch, but the schadenfreude overload is rapidly becoming painful:
Other explanations are similar in their desire to place blame elsewhere. The fault lies not in Obama, but in ourselves. Let’s come back to this in a moment because I know exactly what you’re thinking right now. “Gosh, isn’t it about time Jonah quoted East German Communist playwright Bertolt Brecht?”
In Die Lösung Brecht famously quipped that if the people lose faith in the government it would be better if the government dissolved the people and elected another.
For progressives it’s always five minutes to Brecht-O-Clock. What I mean is this desire to fix the people, not the government always seems to be lurking behind liberalism. It was there when Woodrow Wilson said the first job of an educator is to make your children as unlike you as possible. It was there when Obama explained in 2008 that Hillary Clinton’s Pennsylvania primary supporters weren’t ready to vote for him because they were too busy clinging to their sky god and boom sticks. It’s the central theme of Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? It was whispering in John Podesta’s ear when he said the American political system “sucks.” It is at the heart of the Voxy “explanatory journalism” craze, which holds that if you call proselytizing “explaining” it will help the rubes come to their senses. It runs riot in the mainstream media and their sovereign contempt for these stupid, stupid, Americans and their parochial “unscientific” concerns about an organ-liquefying disease (even as the MSM caters to those concerns for the ratings they deliver). It runs like an underground river through the White House’s national-security policies, as they constantly downplay the dangers Islamic terrorism (“ Let’s just call it ‘work place violence’!”) for fear of rousing the fearsome beast of public opinion on the side of the war on terror. It’s why the White House doesn’t want Congress to get involved in a deal with Iran, because Congress might actually listen to the people. It’s why the New York Times laments the “bumpkinification of the midterms.”
When he was planning to buy the Washington Post, I wonder if Jeff Bezos googled around to spot Ezra Klein in 2012 trying to wildly spin the notion that Jimmy Carter’s infamous “Malaise” speech, which admitted the intellectual bankruptcy of Great Society-style liberals (like Carter himself) was wildly popular at the time. If so, it’s easy to understand why he didn’t want to throw ten million down the intellectual sinkhole of Vox.com.
The efforts to Vox-splain the Obama era will be loads of fun to watch in the coming years as well. (And possibly quite successful: see also, left’s rehabilitation of the Wilson administration, a civil rights disaster so bad, even sympathetic leftists knew it at the time, and the economic nightmare of the FDR era.)