Obama Shocks the Elites

It would be funny if the stakes -- the future direction of this country for many years to come -- weren't so high.

It's still hard not to feel just a bit of schadenfreude watching many of Barack Obama's supporters, particularly those who are among the well-positioned or financially well-off, fidget, whine, and moan as they discover what those of us who actually researched and studied the guy before the election knew about him.

Slowly but surely it is dawning on many of these elites that Obama is exactly what he was in rare unguarded moments during his presidential campaign, during his brief U.S. Senate career as its most liberal member, during his time as an Illinois senator, and, to the extent we were able or allowed to learn it, during his life up to that point: a far-left, class-warfare, redistributionist demagogue. They are also learning that he is bound and determined to impose a radical agenda on the rest of the country and that he has little interest in making exceptions for those who thought they were buying protection or favors with their campaign dollars.

To an extent, the fact that those affected have been caught flat-footed is understandable. Bill Clinton, the last Democratic president, was a draft-dodger and overseas war protester in his youth. Clinton's campaign rhetoric had much of the class-warfare nonsense and ridiculous hyperbole -- including calling the economy "the worst in 50 years" during a year when it grew by 3.3% -- that has been the foundation of Democratic Party presidential campaigns for decades.

Though Clinton ultimately governed largely from the center, at least in appearance, it's easy to forget that during his first two years, he reneged on his core promise of a middle-class tax cut; passed what still is, at least for the moment, the largest tax increase in history; and clumsily attempted, thankfully failing, to nationalize the health care industry. The Gingrich revolution brought this nonsense to an abrupt halt, after which Clinton's most important concern became remaining popular and in office at whatever financial, ideological, or national security cost.

But the heavy hitters who thought that Barack Obama would end up being the second coming of Bill Clinton should have known better. First, due to large, unaccountable flows of money and an ideological determination not seen 16 years ago, the formal and informal organizations Obama and his handlers (not necessarily in that order) have built and maintained are far more sophisticated than anything Clinton, James Carville, and his other advisers ever assembled. More important, Obama's core radicalism far exceeds that of even Clinton's wife Hillary on her worst day. The fact that the media mostly covered up Obama's extreme positions and associations to dumpster-dive in Alaska may excuse the ignorance of the masses; but it doesn't excuse that of the elites.

Perhaps they thought they could go further in the beginning, but the Clintons' overall goal became to change the system and make it more "fair." But Obama and his most dedicated acolytes don't want an improved system; they want a different system.

Some of Obama's supporters are just now recognizing this dreadful situation. They're not liking what they're seeing -- and experiencing.

The UK Telegraph reported on May 10 that "some of Barack Obama's richest supporters fear they have elected a 'class warrior' to the White House, who will turn America's freewheeling capitalism into a more regulated European system." You don't say. In fact, Obama has said that he wants the financial sector to play a much smaller future role in the economy. He actually wants to take government intervention further than European countries ever have. It looks like $3 million in campaign contributions doesn't buy what it used to.

Tom Lauria, the lawyer who properly complained that Obama and his car guys used threats and intimidation to trample on the first-lien contractual rights of the non-TARP lenders he represented in Chrysler's bankruptcy negotiations, gave $10,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Too bad for Mr. Lauria that there isn't a lemon law for political contributions.

High-tech company execs, whose contributions to Obama and Democrats were far higher than those made to John McCain and Republicans, thought that their campaign money might cause a President Obama to let them do their innovative thing. After all, tech is the future growth engine of a struggling economy, right? Forget it. Obama's proposed taxation of corporate profits on overseas operations would, if enacted, hurt them and the economy severely.

Now advertisers, a largely liberal bunch who named the Obama campaign Advertising Age's 2008 Marketer of the Year, and who admired how he "killed Election Day," are feeling the wrath of dear leader. You see, government-run Chrysler is spending too much on something and it needs to be cut in half. That "something" is advertising. Telling Obama and company every day that they're cool and hip didn't work out too well.

These and many of the other elites who have thus far been affected, or soon will be, have plenty of excuses, but no valid justifications, for why they are where they are. They are supposed to be among the engaged. They have a vested interest in paying close attention to reality and getting past the campaign hype. Instead, they fell for it all, hook, line, and sinker.

Now the game has changed to "how can we play along with this guy and not get hurt, or at least not get hurt too badly?" Sadly, the only reason they may be spared is that they're lucky, not smart.