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Works and Days

Anatomy of Petulance

October 14th, 2010 - 11:35 am

I was fascinated watching the recent Obama campaign stops, particularly the contrast with 2008. Gone are the faux columns and classical backdrops. There are no more vero possumus seals (now they fall off the podium). All pretense of “no more red states, no more blue states” nonpartisanship has long ago been dropped. Even the shrill, boilerplate evocation of “Bush-Cheney did it” sounds strained. The blatant divisive appeal to unions, young people, and “black folks” is now unapologetic. Them versus Us is the new theme. Gone is the pretense of inclusivity. Even the fainting now seems rigged rather than spontaneous, the faux cadences forced and more Rev. Wrightish rather than inspired. The eyes of the crowd roll, and have lost their glazed zombie look of 2008. It all reminds me of the failed comeback tour of the proverbial fading rock star, the desperate promos for the sinking supposed blockbuster Hollywood movie, or perhaps something akin to Jerry Ford’s WIN buttons or the Carter desk thump.

So Unfair

The recent interviews with and analyses of the Obama administration — as it descends to a near 40% approval rating — by sympathetic liberal journalists reveal one common theme: a sort of petulance that the actual job of an administration proved so much more of a downer than the giddiness of the 2008 campaign. So unfair, so terribly unjust.

Apparently Team Obama’s disappointment is largely found in others (as is “they” and “them”), rather than this bunch’s own hubris and its invitation to nemesis. There seems to be absolutely no realization about three central truths to the implosion of this administration. And until they achieve self-reflection, they will have no comeback analogous to a Bill Clinton in 1995:

Flukes as Mandates

Obamites still seem to think their arrival signaled a genuine American move to the left, or at least Obama’s singular ability to take the country to the left, rather than a confluence of once in a century events that allowed the northern liberal Obama to do what Dukakis, Kerry, McGovern, and Mondale had not (e.g., the novelty of the first serious African-American candidacy, the anger over the Iraq war, the lackluster McCain campaign that seemed to want to lose nobly rather than win messily, the first orphaned election without incumbents since 1952, the September 15, 2008, panic and meltdown, and the stealth candidacy of Obama running as a centrist moderate).

There was no need right off the bat, in the midst of a recession, to nationalize health care, push cap and trade through the House, digest the student loan program, sell cash for clunkers, or celebrate mega-deficit stimulus borrowing. Unemployment was the key and was ignored, although a great deal of research had shown that targeted tax incentives and reassuring talk about a favorable business climate can accelerate recovery.

All this nonsense was a complete misreading of the election. The result is that in a few weeks Obama will destroy the careers of 50-70 House members and 8-11 senators who followed the tune of our mellifluous pied piper into the abyss. I suggest that he doesn’t care all that much (his post-office future is brighter than theirs) — both because of narcissist tendencies and a sober reflection that a Republican Congress in 2011-12 can be blamed for cutting the “needy” while Obama can take credit for the upturn that will surely follow once business grasps his socialist agenda is stalled.


Private Enterprise Is Run by Humans

This administration is absolutely clueless about the psychological element central to economic recovery. (Yes, yes, I know, some of you think it was a predetermined effort to wreck capitalism. I wrote about that for National Review for tomorrow.) Obama & Co. seem to think businesses and financial bodies are not human, and so don’t mind serial slurs (from the damnation of the Chamber of Commerce [real smart in a recession] to quips like “I do think at a certain point you have made enough money” as the first lady hits Costa del Sol). Yes, businesses are run by real people with feelings and sensory perception. They “get” the demonization of those who make over $250,000, the loose talk of VAT taxes, caps off income subject to payroll taxes, health care surcharge taxes, a return to the Clinton tax rates only on top incomes, higher capital gains taxes and new inheritances taxes.

Add all that to new health care and financial regulations, and the message is clear the American private sector is suspect rather than industrious and critical to our nation’s economic life. After Obama’s slurs against Fox, the Republican leadership, insurers, Wall Street, doctors, police, the people of Arizona, or opponents of the Ground Zero mosque, fairly or not, a lot of people conclude that he does not like them or what they do or what they represent. So trillions of dollars in capital are waiting on the sidelines until November and proof that the Obama agenda is stalled. Even the SEIU or Nancy Pelosi cannot change that fact.

Trumping Nixon

Then there is the constant petulance. The administration has proven itself vintage Nixonian in its enemy lists without Nixon’s foreign policy expertise. Collate all the dark forces like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Justice Roberts, Fox News, John Boehner, the Tea Party, the Chamber of Commerce, and Karl Rove. Then add those nefarious actors with Journolist, Robert Gibbs’s venomous buffoonery, and the president’s own attacks (e.g. “stupidly” acting police, racist Arizonans that deport kids on their way to ice cream, xenophobic Manhattanites) and we are right back to 1972-3, albeit with the hypocritical veneer of hope and change, no more red/blue state, and across the aisle brotherhood. Hypocrisy is a force multiplier to paranoia.

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