Ed Driscoll

You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic

Peggy Noonan, October 30th, 2008:

The case for Barack Obama, in broad strokes:

He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief. He climbed steep stairs, born off the continent with no father to guide, a dreamy, abandoning mother, mixed race, no connections. He rose with guts and gifts. He is steady, calm, and, in terms of the execution of his political ascent, still the primary and almost only area in which his executive abilities can be discerned, he shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make. We witnessed from him this year something unique in American politics: He took down a political machine without raising his voice.

Peggy Noonan, July 16th, 2010:

This is a nation—a world—badly in need of adult supervision. In the 50th anniversary commentary this week of Harper Lee’s masterpiece, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” a book long derided as middlebrow by middlebrows, no one fully noted the centrality, the cosmic force, that propelled the book, and that is the idea of the father. Of the human longing to be safe and watched over by one stronger. And so we have the wise and grounded Atticus Finch, who understands the world and pursues justice anyway, and who can be relied upon. “He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.” That’s the last sentence. Ms. Lee was some kind of genius to throw the ball that soft, and that hard.

Mr. Obama is young, 48, as is British Prime Minister David Cameron (43), with whom he meets next week, and as were Bill Clinton (46 on Inauguration Day) and the somewhat older but still distressingly young George W. Bush, sworn in at 54. Mr. Cameron’s partner in governance, Nicholas Clegg, is also 43. Stephen Harper of Canada is 51, Nicolas Sarkozy of France a youthful 55.

Youth is supposed to bring vigor and vision. In general, however, I think we find in our modern political figures that what it really brings is need—for greatness, to be transformative, to leave a legacy. Such clamorous needs! How very boring they are, how puny and small, but how huge in their consequences.

What Mr. Obama needed the past 18 months was a wise man—more on that later—to offer counsel and perspective, a guy who just by walking into the room brings historical context. “Mr. President, the whole nation’s worried about this thing and you’re worried about that thing. They’re thinking money, and you’re thinking health care. Stop that, focus like a laser beam on the economy.” “My friend, you’re gonna get a win on this stimulus thing in the House, and you’re gonna do it without one Republican vote. That’s gonna make you feel good—flexing the muscle. But it’s gonna hurt you long-term. You need bipartisan cover or people will think you’re radical. Whatever you gotta do to get some Republicans on board you do it, bow to what they need. Don’t worry about your left, where they gonna go? Left attacks you, center’ll like you more.”

I know, “the wise men” are dead. Vietnam killed them. They were the last casualties, pushed off the roof with the helicopters. Their counsel on Vietnam was not good. But we learned the wrong lesson. We should have learned, “Wise men can be wrong, listen close and weigh all data.” Instead we learned, “Never listen to wise men,” and “Only the young and sparkling, not enthralled by the past, can lead us.”

Barack Obama, January 7, 2008:

I am going to try to be so persuasive in the 20 minutes or so that I speak that by the time this is over, a light will shine down from somewhere.It will light upon you. You will experience an epiphany. And you will say to yourself, I have to vote for Barack. I have to do it.

Barack Obama, June 3rd, 2008:

This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), reported by The Hill, July 16th, 2010:

President Obama is suffering from expectations set too high by the historic presidential election of 2008, one of his closest allies in the Senate said Thursday.

In an interview with The Hill, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) blamed unrealistic expectations for Obama’s dismal poll numbers, which have Democrats worried about a defeat at the polls in November’s midterm elections.

“The bar for change was set inordinately high by the tone of the presidential campaign,” said McCaskill, an early supporter of Obama’s who endorsed him over then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in January 2008.

Obama’s long-running primary battle with Clinton captivated Democrats across the country, who rallied to Obama’s message of change. Turnout for the general election was the highest among eligible voters since 1968.

More from McCaskill:

She also said Republicans had done a “very good job” in attacking Democrats by portraying them as a party of “big government.”

“Expectations were so high that if there had not been a complete economic meltdown, it would have been hard,” she said. “But you add to that mix this incredible implosion of the economy … and the minority party did a very good job of messaging ‘big government.’ ”

Well, other than the government takeover of the health care industry, of two-thirds of the auto industry, of regulations that completely tie-up Wall Street, of previous Democratic regulations that did much to cause the meltdown of 2008, and the now-infamous “We Are All Socialists Now” Newsweek cover of early 2009, I just can’t see the “Big Government” meme myself…

And more schizophrenia spotted here: