Another Rube Identifies Himself
Or as Ed Morrissey puts it, "NBC anchor: Cameras are the only reason you’re responding, champ," paraphrasing this Brian Williams interview with Mediate:
Williams: …The night the rig exploded I went on the air, it was our lead story. I asked the question, ‘is this going to lead to one of the most catastrophic events of all time where the environment is concerned?’ [The jury's still very much out on that one -- E.D.] I got a kick out of President Obama saying that even when the cameras go away we’ll still be there for you. That ain’t the way this is going to play out. If anything, the cameras being here have compelled outside interests – government, BP – to kick this into another gear. With all due respect, the President might have had his scenario off by 180 degrees. So we’ll keep coming back here, we won’t take our eyes off this region, we haven’t since we knew we had a Category 5 storm off the coastline five years ago.
As Ed writes, at least Williams is no longer literally bowing to Obama. At the Washington Examiner, Chris Stirewalt writes, "Obama pays price for thinking Bush was a dunce:"
Obama, who railed against the oil industry and wrapped himself in the suffering of the poor people of New Orleans, surely was attuned to the risks at play in deepwater offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
But even he could not fly in like Superman and save the day.
Of all the fictions that Democrats embraced during the Bush presidency, perhaps the most dangerous was that Bush was an idiot.
John Kerry's bitter joke to a college class about poor students getting "stuck in Iraq" and Obama's famous line about being opposed to "dumb wars" reveal the view among liberal intellectuals that the country's problems arose because Bush was a dunce.
It played well to the liberal base that sees Bush as Will Ferrell's impersonation of him: a dope who was led around by Dick Cheney and a cabal of war-mongering oil barons. And as the Iraq war bogged down, New Orleans moldered under floodwaters and the Panic of 2008 wiped out retirement accounts, the idea that it could all be blamed on Bush's incompetence was appealing.
It was certainly more appealing than a more "nuanced" (as Kerry would say) view that America, in the third decade of its third century, faced some nearly impossible challenges.
Agree with him or not, George W. Bush was no dummy. But assuming that he was one allowed Obama to believe the job of being president was easier than it is.
Obama's misapprehension will pay bitter dividends for his presidency for years to come.
Meanwhile, Victor Davis Hanson sees echoes of 1979:
About every 30-40 years, democratic citizenries begin to become complacent. They assume their defenses are unnecessary if not destabilizing, and take away from more needed social services and income redistribution. Deterrence and preparedness are assumed in turn the stone-age tools of unsophisticated mind. The peace that follows from past victories and postwar deterrence is considered artificial, and can instead grow far more organically from professed good intentions and signs of magnanimity, if not apology. Philosopher kings assure the world of a new age to come, one in which a new human nature replaces the old Neanderthal pessimism. Slogans that “we are the ones we have been waiting for”, “yes, we can”, “this is the moment”, and so on usher in the new golden age, free of nukes and war itself.
Carter’s Christian self-righteousness was simply a religious variant on Wilson’s academic haughtiness; Obama’s elite condescension -- human nature can be uplifted and changed if it follows the exalted behavior of our President -- is a mixture of Chicago activism and the hothouse of academia.
Again, remember 1979. I imagine that, like Carter, Obama will begin scrambling to restore deterrence, since the alternative would mean the end of his plans for amnesty, cap-and-trade and more expansion of the social welfare state. So expect a sudden tough line with Korea, more warnings to Iran, and in general some Carter-like posturing to make up for lost time.
We are in a very dangerous age indeed.
Given Carter's relatively convincing impersonation of a southern reform-oriented small government kind of guy in 1976, the American people could be excused for picking him, after the non-diversified mass media (the very definition of epistemic closure) ginned up the Mother of All Media Storms against Richard Nixon.
As the crises started to mount, Carter at least had prior executive experience as governor of Georgia, but his ultra "progressive" mindset left him ill-equipped to handle the dangers of the real world -- many of which, as VDH notes his article, were exacerbated by his own feckless administration. But as Jennifer Rubin writes, what does Obama fall back on, if the media's love affair with him has cooled?
If Obama isn’t going to get his 2008 marketing brand back, what does he do next? He’s never had to answer that because he’s never stayed in any political position long enough with enough coverage to be held accountable for his results. And he’s never been forced to deviate from his ultra-liberal ideological agenda. It’s also not clear that he is capable of changing his tune or even wants to. One term would be fine, he told us.
The interesting question for 2012 is what sort of candidate would Americans be attracted to as an alternative. Obama ran as Not Bush. (Turns out that most of Not Bush is disastrous.) So who is the Not Obama for 2012? Forget about name guessing — I mean, what kind of candidate would provide voters with what they are missing? It’s fair to anticipate that a competent, experienced, un-flashy, fiscal disciplinarian with no illusions about the world and no hesitancy about naming our enemies and holding dear our friends may be in style. We’ll see in the next year which candidates throw their hats into the ring and which match that description.
Fair enough -- but let's get to November before worrying about 2012.
Update: "Brian Williams Boasts of Bettering Obama in Oil Spill Compassion -- But Lies About His Newscasts."