Ed Driscoll

SCOAMF-ing Athwart History, Yelling Stop

Rich Lowry writes that for President Obama, it’s Hots On for ’48:

At his whistle-stops, Truman ranted: “The Republican gluttons of privilege are cold men. They are cunning men. And it is their constant aim to put the government of the United States under the control of men like themselves. They want a return of the Wall Street economic dictatorship.” Subtle. This was when he wasn’t comparing Republicans to Hitler and Tojo as threats to democracy. [QED — Ed]

Obama’s rhetoric isn’t so purple, but his agenda has boiled down to tax increases for the rich, a politically popular wedge issue that Democrats leverage at every opportunity. Want to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next ten years when we’re set to spend roughly another $45 trillion? Sorry, it can’t be done without tax increases on the rich. Want to extend the temporary payroll tax cut? Sorry, it must be paid for with tax increases on the rich. Tax increases on the rich have become the Democrats’ alpha and omega, their sine qua non of government.

Harry Truman, the nasty virtuoso of crude populism, would surely approve. But as Jay Cost pointed out in an essay for The Weekly Standard, Truman benefited in 1948 from conditions that Barack Obama, no matter how vigorous his hell-giving, can only envy.

Truman ran against the backdrop of popular New Deal legislation of recent vintage; Obama’s signature pieces of legislation, the stimulus and Obamacare, stink in the nostrils of the American public. Truman used a brief downturn in the economy toward the end of 1948 to his advantage, winning over the Midwest by blaming Republicans for not doing enough to alleviate falling crop prices; any downtick in this tenuous economy will be a disaster for Obama. Truman ran against a Republican in Thomas Dewey who was reluctant to attack him; Obama’s opponent will happily blast away.

Then there’s the matter of Democratic complicity in Congress doing nothing. Supercommittee Democrats rejected a last-ditch Republican offer of about $600 billion in consensus savings. The GOP wanted to salvage something; the Democrats wanted nothing — at least nothing without a tax increase. If President Obama were so worried about the deficit stalemate, he could publicly offer his own package of specific entitlement savings that would immediately break the logjam. He can’t because his base won’t abide it, and a substantial bipartisan accomplishment would undo his campaign theme.

And thus, the answer to Chris Christie’s question: “What the hell are we paying Obama for?” during the recent “Super-Comittee” hearings. We’re paying him not just to to run for president again, as Allahpundit writes, but to do so while standing athwart history yelling stop, so that his moribund presidential campaign has any shot at success. Which is a topic that Ace of Spades explores:

But why would Obama — supposedly the President of everyone in America, not just the president of the Democrats in Congress — assume his only role was to play quarterback for the Democrats? Why would he not assume that as President of the whole country he is also tasked with prodding his own party towards a compromise?

The answer is obvious: Obama and the Democrats have nothing to run on, so they’ll be running against the “Do-Nothing Republicans” and on Mediscare. That is their only plausible path to victory, so they’re making sure nothing gets done, and they sign no agreements involving Medicare.

Rating agency Fitch has put US credit on a negative outlook, indicating a greater than 50% chance it will be lowered from AAA to AA in the next two years, on news that the US failed once again to address its long-term, and long anticipated, financing crisis.

And Jim Geraghty also notes the love of stasis from the president. Linking to an Obama reelection video, Jim sums up the conundrum of a president standing athwart his own history as “Barack Obama:  I Have So Much to Do, I Can’t Start Until 2013!”

So why the wait? Your own White House has adopted the slogan, “We Can’t Wait.”

Also left unsaid is precisely what those unfinished tasks are.

You can’t ignore Bowles-Simpson recommendations, punt on the Supercommittee, kick the can down the road on the Keystone pipeline, and watch economic conditions from home prices to gas prices to food stamp use and unemployment deteriorate and effectively run out the clock on your first term and then tell Americans that your next four years will be a lot more productive.

Of course, Mr. Obama is far from the first “progressive” to be against progress. It’s rare though, to see such an interest be displayed so transparently.