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Ed Driscoll

Wag the Killer Rabbit

August 10th, 2011 - 4:05 pm

In “They Once Loved Jimmy, Too,” Bill McGurn’s Wall Street Journal piece on how Jimmy Carter was ushered into office accompanied by hagiographic praise from fellow liberals, he reminded readers that Carter was capable of changing course in the midst of a Keynesian meltdown, but it was a case of too little, too late:

Ironically, here Mr. Romney has a case, for some of the differences between the two presidents favor Mr. Carter. Faced with raging inflation and a declining dollar, President Carter appointed Paul Volcker chairman of the Federal Reserve. He supported deregulation. Most of all, in contrast to President Obama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because he wasn’t George W. Bush, President Carter actually earned his, at least for the Camp David Accords that brought about peace between Israel and Egypt.

And as many will remember, Bill Clinton was even more capable of a course correction, one that arguably kept him in power in 1996. In his Best of the Web column yesterday subtitled “Progressives are betraying Obama, not the other way around,” James Taranto writes that perhaps somewhat paradoxically, it’s Obama’s rigidity as an arch-progressive that’s causing fellow progressives to lose faith in him:

In short, Obama is a fighter for the progressive cause. Progressives are upset with him because he is a loser.

Bill Clinton, by contrast, was a winner. By all accounts he emerged victorious from the 1995-96 budget battles with Republicans, and he was easily re-elected. There are, of course, many differences between Clinton and Obama, and between those times and these. But one salient difference is that Clinton was ideologically flexible whereas Obama is rigid.

Unlike Obama, Clinton abandoned “health care reform” when it was clear it was politically untenable. Clinton drove a hard bargain with Republicans in the budget fights, but he never demanded that they raise taxes. And his signature legislation turned out to be welfare reform, a centrist initiative that drew bipartisan support but bitter opposition from the progressive left.

Yet the left not only stood by him but rallied behind him when he was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice in a sex scandal. If Barack Obama were caught in flagrante delicto with a White House intern, does anyone doubt the left would demand his resignation–and would be relieved at having a good reason to do so?

Progs loved Bill Clinton because he was a winner. They loathe Barack Obama because he is a loser. But Obama is a loser in large part because he is unwilling to do what Clinton did to make himself a winner: cast aside progressive ideology when it is expedient to do so.

Obama isn’t betraying the left, the left is betraying Obama–and they are doing so precisely because he has done what they say they want him to do.

But perhaps that last sentence sheds light on some of Obama’s woes. As recently-minted conservative David Mamet might say, that sounds very much like a case of wag the dog.

Or as my friend Steve Green writes today on his PJ Express blog, “For a while now, Glenn Reynolds has argued that ‘Jimmy Carter is the best-case scenario’ for Obama — because it’s been pretty obvious for a while now. But it’s only this morning that I figured out the why.”

Barack Obama cannot lead this nation. He couldn’t lead the way out of a wet paper bag. He couldn’t lead a dog to kibble. Barack Obama is a bad leader.

And that’s where things really get bad.

Faced with the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, faced with the weakest job market since WWII, faced with endless debt and out-of-control entitlements, Obama’s policy prescriptions haven’t changed one bit:

1. Soak the “millionaires and billionaires” making as little as $200,000.

2. Regulate the ever-loving life out of the economy.

3. Increase entitlements.

4. Spend, spend, spend.

The fact that these policies haven’t worked hasn’t deterred Obama. Just on Monday he took to the airwaves yet again to call for yet more taxes and yet more spending to fund the expanded welfare and regulatory state he refuses to trim.

Obama isn’t just a failed leader. Unlike Carter, the Smartest Man in the Room™ has proven unable or unwilling to learn on the job. Obama can’t recognize mistakes — even though the evidence is as plain as last month’s hideous jobs report. He will continue to demand that reality conform to his theories, no matter what damage he does to this country. He doesn’t doge, he doesn’t weave — he keeps pursuing failure in the face of failure.

Why? I don’t care why. Maybe it’s his ego. Maybe he really believed all those stoned-out-of-his-mind late-night Harvard bull sessions. Maybe he really is trying to drive this country into the ground, for whatever reason. Maybe, Barack Obama is just a dumbass.

What I do know is, the American people were sold a pig in a poke three years ago. What I don’t know is, if they’ll buy it again.

Be the wave.

Related: Paul Rahe at Ricochet on “Geithner Twisting in the Wind:”

Geithner’s resignation in the face of a catastrophe would not only be an admission of failure. It would inevitably be the first step towards a change of policy. The introduction of new men is nearly always preparatory to the introduction of new measures. Geithner is a weakling. Had he been a man of strength, he would have resigned on an issue of principle when it became clear that his advice regarding economic policy was unwanted. In the current circumstances, President Obama needs – or thinks he needs – a weakling in Geithner’s post.

Meanwhile, “Jay Carney Waxes Solid About How Unemployment Payments Create Lots of Jobs.” As Rahe concludes, “This is an historic moment. We are facing the crisis of the administrative entitlements state. Progressivism is about to make its last stand.”

Or to put it another way, “Hope and Change? Meet the snake.”

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