Ed Driscoll

'Finally, The Cognoscenti Ask: What Could We Be Thinking?'

While no one knows what ultimately will happen next November, it will be fun to compare the diminished expectations the left has for the One, having gone from literally asking, “Is Barack Obama the Messiah?” to simply wondering if the would-be messiah can simply crawl over the finish line next year.

And if the GOP holds the House and/or takes the Senate, so will all of the talk of a permanent Democratic Majority. At least until 2017. QED:

Forty years flies when you’re having fun, I guess.

Regarding the tulip mania of 2008, Mark Steyn explores “Finally, The Cognoscenti Ask: What Could We Be Thinking?” in his latest op-ed:

The most dismal thing about that David Brooks column conceding that “yes, I’m a sap … remember, I’m a sap … as you know, I’m a sap” was the headline his New York Times editors chose to append to it: “Obama Rejects Obamaism.”

In other words, even in a column remorselessly cataloguing how one of its smartest smart guys had been repeatedly suckered by Obama on jobs, on Medicare, on deficits, on tax reform, etc., the New York Times chose to insist that there’s still something called “Obamaism” — prudent, centrist, responsible — that for some perverse reason the man for whom this political philosophy is named insists on betraying, 24/7, week in, month out, spring, summer, autumn, tax season. You can set your clock by Obama’s rejection of “Obamaism.”

That’s because there’s no such thing. Never was.

“Obamaism” was the Emperor’s new centrism: To a fool such as your average talk-radio host, His Majesty appears to be a man of minimal accomplishments other than self-promotion marinated in a radical faculty-lounge view of the world and the role of government. But, to a wise man such as your average presidential historian or New York Times columnist, he is the smartest guy ever to become president.

In part, this is a natural extension of an ever more conformist and unrepresentative establishment’s view of where “the center” is. On issues from abortion to climate change, a Times man or Hollywood activist or media professor’s notion of “centrism” is well to the left of where American opinion is.

That’s one reason why a supposedly “center-right” nation has wound up regulated into sclerosis, drowning in debt and embarking on its last decade as the world’s leading economy.

But in the case of Obama the chasm between soft, seductive, politico-media “centrism” and hard, grim reality is too big to bridge, and getting wider all the time.

But then, the notion of an actual “center” in any meaningful sense left the building about the same time Bill Clinton did. (Actually sooner, given that Al Gore campaigned much further to the left in 2000 than Bill ever did.) As Jonah Goldberg writes today, “‘Centrists’ Are Abandoning Ship,” but “The establishment solution to unpopular liberal policies is still more liberalism:”

President Obama’s failure to fully achieve the liberal agenda and remain popular in the process is fueling dangerous radicalization in the oddest of places: the media establishment, which considers itself the guardian of the political center.

I should say “the so-called center,” because one of those most tedious — yet meticulously maintained — fictions is the claim that the establishment is, in fact, “centrist.”

If you’ve ever met these people and talked to them about how they see the world, heard them give a college commencement address, read their books, or endeavored to find out the political views of their spouses, you’d have all the evidence you need to learn that the establishment’s centrist facade is so much Potemkin poster board.For example, remember the media obsession with the cockeyed fantasy that Obama was the next FDR? Go back and watch some of those late-2008 and early-2009 episodes of Meet the Press. The guests were so giddy about the prospect they looked like six-year-olds at a birthday party ordered to sit still while the clown got ready to make balloon animals.

But Obama is not an FDR, nor a Lincoln, nor a liberal Reagan. At this point he’s simply hoping not to be a Carter. And that’s fomented establishment despair. Tina Brown, editor of both the Daily Beast and Newsweek, recently let it slip on MSNBC (a trifecta of establishmentarian liberal media outlets!) that she thinks Obama “wasn’t ready” for the job in 2008.

And just in from the left side of the aisle, via Jacob Heilbrunn (who wrote plenty of mythological prose himself about Obama at the HuffPo back in the day), in addition to not being, Lincoln, FDR, JFK and RWR, he’s no Harry Truman, either:

The new revelations in Ron Suskin’s book about Obama being ignored by his own advisers only compound the sense of unease surrounding the Obama presidency. Now we are promised, as Robert Merry and Paul Pillar note in their stimulating essays, a new Obama, one on the fighting lines of Truman. Merry notes that it is the record, not rhetorical flimflam, that will count when voters assess Obama. Part of the trouble with Obama may simply be his inexperience. It would be hard to think of anyone more different than Obama and Truman. Truman served and saw fierce combat in World War I. He commanded men in battle. The corruption of Kansas City politics probably helped him to prepare for dealing with Stalin in the postwar era. Truman was also a student of history—in retirement he wrote a history of the Roman empire. Obama, by contrast, refused to attend the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

But why do you need to know history, when everyone around you is telling you that you are history? As I’ve written before, the problem for Obama wasn’t just, as he told a biographer at the peak of hopenchange fever that “I actually believe my own bulls***,” it’s that he believed everyone else’s, too.

See also: most important lesson from Animal House:

Of course, given the symbiotic relationship between the MSM and BHO, he could say the same thing back to the people who elected him. And in a way, he is