November 22, 2016

JAMES TARANTO: A Crisis of Authority—II: The people have spoken. Obama is speaking back.

It’s true that Obama has not melted down in public the way many on the liberal left have. But Lederman overstates the case. On that foreign trip, as well as in a lengthy series of interviews, both pre- and postelection, with the New Yorker’s David Remnick, Obama has been quite fretful—torn, as at that press conference, between his duty as a lame-duck president to respect the office and the man who will soon hold it, and his anguish at what amounts to a repudiation of authority.

Here we mean not Obama’s authority as president, which he will continue to exercise until Trump is sworn in at noon on Jan. 20. Rather, what the voters repudiated was the authority of what Obama stands for. . . .

Remnick himself described the Obama presidency as “two terms long on dignity and short on scandal.” The IRS? The State Department scandal that arguably sank Mrs. Clinton’s campaign? Again, the memory hole.

In Lima on Sunday the president himself declared: “I am extremely proud of the fact that over eight years we have not had the kinds of scandals that have plagued other administrations.” That’s either delusional or very carefully worded: To our knowledge no other administration has used the IRS to punish ordinary citizens for dissent, nor faced FBI findings that the secretary of state treated classified information in an “extremely careless” fashion. . . .

Meanwhile, the Times’s new public editor, Liz Spayd, faults “the media” for “turning [Trump’s] remarks into a grim caricature that it applied to those who backed him. What struck me is how many liberal voters I spoke with felt so, too. They were Clinton backers, but, they want a news source that fairly covers people across the spectrum.”

If you’d told us in 2013, when we identified the problem of liberal-left authoritarianism, that Donald Trump would be the solution, we’d have laughed along with everyone else. But he was probably a necessary corrective. The left has waged asymmetric political warfare, routinely traducing the same norms it was demanding its opponents respect. Trump beat them at their own game, and that might have been the only way it could be done.

Choose the form of your Destructor!

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