VDH: How We Got Here

“Often, crazy things seem normal for a time because logical catastrophes do not immediately follow,” Victor Davis Hanson writes. “Suddenly the bills for Obama’s six years of folly are coming due for the American people:”


The American public hardly noticed when Obama recklessly withdrew every peacekeeper from Iraq. Did he not boast of “ending the Iraq War”? It did not mind when the U.S. posted dates for withdrawal from Afghanistan. Trashing all the Bush–Cheney anti-terrorism protocols, from Guantanamo to renditions, did not make much sense, when such policies had worked and, in fact, were of use to Obama himself. But again, most Americans took no note. Apparently the terrorists did, however, and they regrouped even as the president declared them “on the run.”

Lecturing Israel while praising Islamist Turkey was likewise ignored. America snoozed as its president insidiously redefined its role in the Middle East as secondary to the supposed pivot to Asia. Each new correction in and of itself was comparatively minor; but in aggregate they began to unravel the U.S.-inspired postwar global order.

At first, who cared whether Iran serially violated every Obama deadline on halting nuclear enrichment? Did we worry that Libya, where Obama was proud of having led from behind, was descending into Somalia? Few Americans were all that bothered over Obama’s empty order to Syrian president Bashar Assad to step down, or over Obama’s later vacuous red-line threats that bombs would follow any use by Assad of chemical weapons.

Few noted that Obama lied to the nation that a video had caused the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, that Obama had known who the real terrorist perpetrators were but had ordered no immediate action to kill or capture them, and that Americans had been engaged in mysterious and still unexplained covert activities in Benghazi. After all that, we still shrugged when the president traded five top terrorist leaders for an alleged American deserter.

Trashing George W. Bush’s policy toward Vladimir Putin while promising a new reset approach (illustrated with a plastic red button) to an aggressive dictator raised few eyebrows at the time. Nor did many Americans worry that our Pacific allies were upset over Chinese and North Korean aggression that seemed to ignore traditional U.S. deterrence.


Obama was a brilliant campaigner, and his rhetoric deeply impressed the chattering classes, who similarly make their living with words back up by very little accountability to the truth. (And these days like Obama himself, very little knowledge of history.) But as Ed Klein notes in Blood Feud, brilliant rhetoric does not an executive make. “How could such a talented and successful political campaigner turn out to be so woefully inept in the arts of governance?”, Klein asks of The Won:

One answer to that question was provided many years ago by the political scientist Richard E. Neustadt in his 1960 landmark study, Presidential Power. “The Presidency is no place for amateurs,” wrote Neustadt. “[ The office of the president needs] experienced politicians of extraordinary temperament. . . . That sort of expertise can hardly be acquired without deep experience in political office . The Presidency is a place for men of politics. But by no means is it a place for every politician.” It was no place for Barack Obama.

How badly has Obama augured himself into the ground? This badly:

“When even MSNBC displays chyrons calling Obama out for his Gone Fishin’ style of presidentin’, the Prog King may be in some trouble.”


Hey, the American people were warned long in advance of what they were getting:

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