Ed Driscoll

Now Comes the Reckoning

At Big Government, Paul Rahe, the author of Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift, is having a “see, I told you so” moment, quoting from a post he wrote in November of last year for Power Line:

In 2004, [Democrats] tried a trick. If we nominate a man who won the Purple Heart in Vietnam, they thought, we will win. Never mind that John Kerry disgraced himself in the aftermath of his service in Vietnam, making unjust charges against his brothers-in-arms and resolutely thereafter refusing to apologize to those whom he had slandered. Never mind that he had no executive experience. Never mind that, as a US Senator, he was – to say the least – undistinguished. They wanted to win; and they gave not a thought to what sort of President he might be.

In 2008, the Democrats did the same thing. They had on their hands an inexperienced, recently minted US Senator from Illinois who was – as Joe Biden put it in a candid remark that typifies his propensity for speaking his mind without first thinking about the consequences – “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Never mind, they thought, Obama’s long-standing connections with William Ayers, the unrepentant mastermind of a domestic terrorist bombing campaign in the 1970s. Never mind Obama’s close association with the racist demagogue Jeremiah Wright. Never mind his lack of executive experience, his unfamiliarity with the private sector, and his ignorance of the ways of Washington. With the help of the pliable press, he could be sold – and the Americans would congratulate themselves on their lack of racial prejudice if they voted for him.

“Now,” I then wrote, “comes the reckoning. That is one problem. The other is that Obama’s one trick cannot often be played. As we have seen over the last few months, as he has tried to play this trick over and over and over again, the more we see of him, the less we are impressed. Franklin Delano Roosevelt never held his fireside chats more than three times a year. How many times has Obama demanded airtime from the networks in the last ten months? I shudder to think.” And to this, I added,

There is a third problem. Once in office, presidents are judged more by what they do than by what they say and how well they say it, and Barack Obama is in the process of doing a great deal of harm. His “stimulus” bill was a transparent act of grand larceny, stealing from the future in order to enrich Democratic Party constituencies now. His unlawful handling of GM and Chrysler defrauded the bondholders, rewarded the intransigents in the UAW who were largely responsible for the auto-makers’ decline, and made it harder for American corporations to borrow money.

And every version of the health care reform that he backs threatens to bankrupt the country and force us to raise taxes on a grand scale. If investors remain on the sidelines, if employers are reluctant to hire, and if, in consequence, the economic recovery is anemic and virtually jobless, it is to a considerable extent Obama’s fault.

Which brings us to this passage in a damning new Politico article, co-written by Jim Vandehei and former JournoList member Mike Allen:

His relations with business leaders could hardly be worse. Obama has suggested it’s a PR problem, but several Democratic officials said CEOs friendly with the president walk away feeling he’s indifferent at best to their concerns. Add in his icy relations with Republicans, the media and, most important, most voters, and it’s easy to understand why his own staff leaked word to POLITICO that it wants Obama to shake up his staff and change his political approach.

It should be a no-brainer for a humbled Obama to move quickly after Tuesday’s thumping to try to repair these damaged relations, and indeed, in India on Sunday, he acknowledged the need for “midcourse corrections.”

But many Democrats privately say they are skeptical that Obama is self-aware enough to make the sort of dramatic changes they feel are needed — in his relations with other Democrats or in his very approach to the job.

And then there’s this item out of India today, sure to make voters — at least on the right — skeptical:  “Obama acknowledges decline of US dominance:”

Implicitly acknowledging the decline of American dominance, Barack Obama on Sunday said the US was no longer in a position to “meet the rest of the world economically on our terms”.

But last year, 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.”

And in 2008, while on the campaign trial, Obama made one of his more spectacular Kinsleyesque improvisational gaffes that ultimately birthed a 1000 teleprompter gags, when he concluded:

“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 does anybody else; hence last week’s major course correction. But does a president with that sort of punitive view of America think that its decline on the world stage is a good or a bad thing?

Jennifer Rubin sums up the Democrats’ current woes:

The White House seems unconvinced that the problem is the agenda, not just a remote and increasingly unlikable president. They’ll try to “warm him up” and do more feel-your-pain moments. But the core problem remains: Obama is infatuated with his own agenda and it is that agenda that is the recipe for the minority-status of his party.

And in all of this, one wonders what the left-leaning intelligentsia has learned. A Harvard Law Review editor, a law professor, a garden-variety leftist, a talker-not-a-doer, and a proponent of American un-exceptionalism is a bust as president. In short, someone like them is utterly incapable of leading the country, and to rescue himself he will have to shed the very qualities and beliefs they hold dear. You can understand why they’d prefer to label the rest of the country “crazy.”

Or simply dumb.