Ed Driscoll

Replaying the Malaise Days

At Commentary, Peter Wehner explores, “Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, and America’s ‘Crisis in Spirit.'” After quoting Carter’s infamous “Malaise” speech from 1979, and noting the similar mindset inherent in our present Ruling Class, Wehner responds:

In the end, the public will (rightfully) insist that its political leaders not simply diagnosis such problems, but do something to solve them. Ronald Reagan did this for the country as a whole, which is one reason he’s now widely seen as having been a great president. On a smaller scale, Rudy Giuliani could have lamented the desiccated state of New York City when he became mayor. Instead, he took steps to repair it. The result was a better, stronger, prouder city. New York became great again.

So far, President Obama has fallen terribly short of what the citizenry expects of him. He has contributed rather than ameliorated the anxieties and concerns people have. His policies, especially on the economy, are holding us down. Mr. Obama doesn’t seem able to tap into America’s remarkable strengths, spirit, and resilience, which are unique in the world and virtually unmatched in history. Indeed, in some deep way, he doesn’t even seem to recognize them and can therefore hardly acknowledge them.

How can he? Very early in his tenure in the Oval Office, Obama admitted, somewhat artfully, that he considers American exceptionalism an old-fashioned myth:

“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”

As I wrote last year:

[It’s] is a perfectly Clintonian “I didn’t inhale” sort of response: I’m willing to pretend, for the purposes of the more ceremonial aspects of my current position, to believe in the charade of American exceptionalism. But as a dedicated transnationalist, I’m far, far beyond such a petty antediluvian concept, myself. After all, those modern day “Greeks” and “Brits” are living on history that’s increasingly in the rearview mirror. They and plenty of other exhausted former empires believed in their own exceptionalism, and didn’t they seem awfully foolish in retrospect when their period in the sun expired, leaving behind nations a shell of their former selves — a moment I’m doing my best to engineer, myself.

Which is why “Barack Obama has awakened a sleeping nation,” Gary Hubbell writes in the Aspen Times Weekly:

In the time of Barack Obama, Black Panther members stand outside polling places in black commando uniforms, slapping truncheons into their palms. ACORN — a taxpayer-supported organization — is given a role in taking the census, even after its members were caught on tape offering advice to set up child prostitution rings. A former Communist is given a paid government position in the White House as an advisor to the president. Auto companies are taken over by the government, and the auto workers’ union — whose contracts are completely insupportable in any economic sense — is rewarded with a stake in the company. Government bails out Wall Street investment bankers and insurance companies, who pay their executives outrageous bonuses as thanks for the public support. Terrorists are read their Miranda rights and given free lawyers. And, despite overwhelming public disapproval, Barack Obama has pushed forward with a health care plan that would re-structure one-sixth of the American economy.

I don’t know about you, but the other day I was at the courthouse doing some business, and I stepped into the court clerk’s office and changed my voter affiliation from “Independent” to “Republican.” I am under no illusion that the Republican party is perfect, but at least they’re starting to awaken to the fact that we cannot sustain massive levels of debt; we cannot afford to hand out billions of dollars in corporate subsidies; we have to somehow trim our massive entitlement programs; we can no longer be the world’s policeman and dole out billions in aid to countries whose citizens seek to harm us.

Literally millions of Americans have had enough. They’re organizing, they’re studying the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, they’re reading history and case law, they’re showing up at rallies and meetings, and a slew of conservative candidates are throwing their hats into the ring. Is there a revolution brewing? Yes, in the sense that there is a keen awareness that our priorities and sensibilities must be radically re-structured. Will it be a violent revolution? No. It will be done through the interpretation of the original document that has guided us for 220 years — the Constitution. Just as the pendulum swung to embrace political correctness and liberalism, there will be a backlash, a complete repudiation of a hundred years of nonsense. A hundred years from now, history will perceive the year 2010 as the time when America got back on the right track. And for that, we can thank Barack Hussein Obama.

Or as Obama said on the campaign trail in 2008, unintentionally foreshadowing the electoral landscape in the fall of 2010 as a result of his failed and antiquated policies, “America is …, uh, is no longer, uh … what it could be, what it once was. And I say to myself, I don’t want that future for my children.”

Neither do we, Barry.

Update: “Desperation Village.”