Wasn’t that exciting? A national melodrama with its constant sense of crisis; a president’s long, accelerating fall from grace culminating in an orgy of political squalor; the Scott Brown miracle and the equally stunning hubris of the Democrats’ determination to ignore it; the missed deadlines and frantic lunges in the House, then in the Senate; the devilish political and procedural snags that rose up, like ghouls in a computer game, only to be shot down by the no-holds-barred trio of Obama, Pelosi and Reid … the gaudy payoffs, abrupt reversals of fortune, arm-twisting and smoke-blowing, the bald lies and the magical thinking that would make a fantasy writer blush. What a long, strange trip ObamaCare has been.
And perhaps the most amazing thing about it was that its hero, the man the media had been waiting for and who would cure all of life’s ills by waving his “more government” wand, seems to have frayed in front of our eyes. He didn’t quite come apart at the seams — although we’ve been spared seeing how he might have reacted if the House had actually failed to approve his life’s work — but there certainly was a noticeable loss of that exalted cool with which, arguably, he dashed John McCain’s hopes after the great financial bonfire of September 2008. Remember how “adult” he seemed then, when the world appeared to be coming down around our ears, how canny and detached — almost calculating — when the nation turned its lonely eyes to him?
Now we’ve seen him improvising, even scrambling, clearly more the master of disaster than the sultan of suave. In fact, he was plainly worried. You could see that in the Fox interview. After all, it was well within the realm of possibility that he would fall on what was once his supremely confident — even arrogant — face. His phenomenal golem of a law, this impending gross national liability to which he’s devoted not only the first year of a “historic” presidency but on which he’s gambling his own place in history and perhaps the long-term viability of his own party — not to mention the whole raft of redistributionist policies he wants to push through before he’s done with us — could well have been his very own supernova: a huge explosion after which his presidency and all the fevered hopes of the left disappeared into a yawning black hole. Even though he and his henchperson the speaker, America’s dangerously loony aunt, did manage to lie, threaten, and leverage it over the finish line, it only signals the beginning, not the end, of a grinding, all-out war for which his ammunition is largely spent.
It’s truly mind-boggling what Barack Obama has done — and not done — since he rode into the Oval Office in a swirling cloud of self-generated, but impossible, expectations. The nation wanted economic growth, so he gave it government growth; it wanted fiscal responsibility after the Republican binge, so he set about saddling it with unimaginable debt. Reeling as we were from high energy prices that killed jobs, he gave us a plan to make energy much more expensive while enriching Wall Street and Al Gore. (Yes, a crisis really is a terrible thing to waste.)
The people hungered for the new, post-partisan, pragmatic era he’d promised, and they got instead a far-left cabal lusting to jam an unpopular takeover of a huge part of the economy down the national throat — say “Ah” — by as little as one vote in the House, if necessary. At a time of high youth (especially minority youth) unemployment, he bragged about raising the job-killing minimum wage. Having promised to do everything in his power to improve dismal inner-city schools, he has instead largely stuck by his trusty financiers, the teachers’ unions. Given that American industry, what’s left of it, must compete against the likes of China and Korea, he seeks to raise its expenses and hamper its flexibility by boosting taxes, regulation, and unionization. He has insulted and betrayed our allies while constantly signaling to our enemies that they have nothing, really, to fear from him.
He’s no dummy, but he gets almost everything wrong because he’s from upside-down, inside-out Left World, the inhabitants of which lack perspective because they have two left eyes. Left World, led by him, loved to deride his predecessor as a “riverboat gambler” who was too dumb to grasp the risks he was taking. Yet everything George W. Bush said about Iraq, including his claim that it harbored weapons of mass destruction, was much more plausible than Obama’s claims about his health care panacea. Since all its assumptions and incentives are wrong, it can’t possibly work as advertised. It will have to be repealed; the only question is when — a year from now, two, 10? At some point it will topple of its own weight, but will it take Uncle Sam’s credit with it? Greece, anyone?
Where does he go from this tawdry skin-of-his-teeth “triumph”? He seems to be changing before our eyes into a kind of “this is for your own good” authoritarian. After all, he’s from Chicago, where they don’t bother to hide the brass knuckles under a velvet glove. The more the golden-tongued Obama becomes the leaden-tongued pol who fails to persuade us, the more his popularity fades and his “brand” — hopeful change — erodes. As we get balkier he gets grimmer — “Don’t be a big baby, this will only hurt a little bit!” — and we begin to glimpse a desperate future.