Obama: Post-Racial, Post-Partisan, or Post-Sanity?
Partisan politics have not improved things since then for President Obama or his party. Are Americans just spoiled rotten and don't know what's best for them? For the current congressional campaign season, President Obama has had to secure the aid of his old nemesis, former President Clinton -- who once blustered to friends that Senator Obama could "kiss my ass" in return for his support following the primary defeat of now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As a substitute for President Obama, seen by many members of his own party as a kiss of death on the campaign trail:
[Mr. Clinton] will shortly visit Arkansas, his native state, plus Kentucky and Florida in an effort to woo voters -- particularly white Southerners, with whom Mr. Obama has never gelled. He will also be deployed in swing states such as New Hampshire that he won during his own presidential campaigns.
Despite trying to "kiss and make up" in order to grab a life jacket as the good ship Bipartisan flounders, President Obama's chances of retaining a compliant majority in the House and a compliant filibuster proof super-majority in the Senate don't seem great. If he does, the atmosphere will likely become even more partisan. However, should there be a lame duck Congress between the November congressional elections and the seating of a new Congress, things are likely to be even worse:
There have been signs in recent weeks that party leaders are planning an ambitious lame-duck session to muscle through bills in December they don't want to defend before November. Retiring or defeated members of Congress would then be able to vote for sweeping legislation without any fear of voter retaliation.
The goodies probably on the lame duck agenda include card-check legislation, cap-and-tax legislation, and more:
Other lame-duck possibilities? Senate ratification of the New START nuclear treaty, a federally mandated universal voter registration system to override state laws, and a budget resolution to lock in increased agency spending.
Then there is pork. A Senate aide told me: "Some of the biggest porkers on both sides of the aisle are leaving office this year, and a lame-duck session would be their last hurrah for spending." Likely suspects include key members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Congress' "favor factory," such as Pennsylvania Democrat Arlen Specter and Utah Republican Bob Bennett.
Voters don't want it now? Tough! President Obama is "The Won"; lots of voters told him so in November of 2008 and it must be true! What they in their ignorance think they want won't matter until 2012. An active lame duck Congress would be an orgiastic experience for President Obama and a nightmare for the rest of us. The orgiastic experience would be transitory, but the impact on the rest of us would be far more enduring.
So how about a post-sanity presidency? Albert Einstein is claimed to have said that insanity is "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." That's pretty much what we got with the various stimulus packages, health control legislation, and further attempts to tax us, control what we use as fuel, and even to tell us what and how much to eat. Creation and maintenance of personalized federal records of our obesity is coming, and the White House cook is now "senior policy adviser for health food initiatives."
Caligula, a Roman emperor, was clearly nuts; he probably suffered from schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses. However:
[Those] who believe that Caligula was never mentally ill attribute his erratic behavior to being suddenly presented with immense responsibility, having had no previous experience with holding public office. They suggest that actions such as insisting on his deification and making his horse a senator stem from a wish to test the extent of his power and a petty vendetta against the Senate. But popular opinion still holds that no sane person could have done what Caligula did, and that it was by all accounts a relief when Claudius took over.
President Obama is almost certainly not insane as the term is used medically, rather than as a slang or colloquial expression. However, if snake oil czars are actually appointed, and if first Dog Bo is named White House congressional relations czar, we may have additional concerns. That sort of thing didn't work out too well for Caligula and his horse.
Still, there is always hubris hope for President Obama. Lots of unemployment? Fix it by making it even more difficult and less rewarding for business to create jobs. Not enough money? No problem. Additional taxes can always provide more; the government creates prints all of the money so all of it obviously belongs to the government. Last year, President Obama argued:
For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.
Now, the government's taxing powers are claimed to justify mandatory health insurance and to be "even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce." That's a pretty "sweeping" statement.
The beatings must continue until morale improves; besides, the beatings mean more government employees to administer and regulate the beatings which the "little people" of the country will feel but can't comprehend. This stimulates employment and that must in and of itself be a good thing.
Three months is an infinity in news cycles, and Vice President Biden may be correct (isn't he always?) in claiming that the losses are not "going to be bad at all." Things may indeed get smoothed over temporarily between now and November, and former President Clinton -- perhaps on his own behalf rather than President Obama's -- may possibly work the magic which President Obama himself has misplaced. A compliant congressional majority may yet endure.
Here are some things to do now. In November, vote. Please!