November 3, 2012
This sense of a people defeating appalling obstacles, through their own efforts and the hand of providence, is as old as Moses. As Conan Doyle implies, it is central to the story of the English-speaking peoples. Even today, it is what makes America new in each generation. Barack Obama does not believe in it – he does not even like it. Mitt Romney does.
What the media see as a “gaffe” is often, in reality, a challenge to the dominant orthodoxy. In the late Seventies, Margaret Thatcher made the gaffe of questioning the motives of the Soviet Union when everyone else was mad about détente. She made the gaffe of questioning incomes policies when most people said they were the only way of stopping inflation. After a while, she piled up enough gaffes to make sure that she won the general election of 1979. In the United States in 1980, Ronald Reagan made those sorts of gaffes, too.
I love this about Obama: “It turns out that his character is not that of a man who has emerged from nowhere to challenge the powerful few on behalf of the wretched of the earth. It is that of a media-savvy professor of an Ivy League university – comfortable with irony, more than comfortable with the sound of his own voice, confident that he knows a great deal more than most of us. One of the striking features of the lives of such professors is their terms of employment. They have what is called ‘tenure’: no one can get them out. . . . Mr Obama went into the contest that ends on Tuesday believing that he, too, had tenure. The White House was his. The election, like those bogus selection processes for top public sector jobs when the winner has been pre-decided, was little more than a tiresome formality.”
FLASHBACK (From Ed): Speaking of Thatcher’s seventies-era “gaffes,” And now, a Few Words from Margaret Thatcher on the Failure of Obamanomics.