Belmont Club

Stampede

Bill O'Reilly(AP Photo/Jeff Christensen, file)

Mark Steyn observed that President Obama’s speeches, even when ostensibly about foreign countries are really about domestic politics. His Afghan speech signalled the current state attitude of the cop in Washington and by implication, told the dictators of the world about what they could or could not do. The cop it said, will be walking around the beat between these and these hours and then will attend the Benevolent Association Ball. The bad guys are free to draw their conclusions and they will.  They will all over the world. And maybe now the international scene is like an intersection with a green light showing in all four directions. Steyn described the new opportunities for political entrepreneurs:

One of the most interesting developments in recent months have been the emerging alliances of convenience between Iran and its clients, on the one hand, and the likes of Russia, North Korea, and Venezuela on the other. Some of this is simple mischief-making, but, in the vacuum of the Hopeychange, a lot of it shows a shrewd strategic calculation. A nuclear Tehran, for example, serves Moscow’s interest in promoting itself as a guarantor of Eastern European “security.” It’s one of the oldest of protection rackets: You need me to protect you from my psycho friend.

But Steyn’s first principle is that domestic politics is the foundation of everything. Here the situation is a little different: unlike inernational scene the green light is operating in two directions only. The problem is that the light never changes. One side is stuck and the other side runs through unhindered. This creates an instability of its own.

One instability is fiscal.  Restraint is fraying. The Sacramento Bee says that California’s debt may reach half a trillion dollars — and it has just issued another earmark laden bond issue. “The days of blithely heaping more and more debt burden on the general fund are over – at least they should be,” California State treasurer Lockyer said. But why should it be? Who’s going to demonstrate restraint by example? The Federal government?

Just days before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators finalized a water package, including an $11.1 billion bond issue, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer warned them not to do it.

California is already deeply in debt, Lockyer warned, has huge budget deficits and can’t afford another big bond issue.

“The days of blithely heaping more and more debt burden on the general fund are over – at least they should be,” Lockyer said.

Rahm Emmanuel’s dictum that one should never let a good crisis go to waste has started a stampede which is ultimately undermining the President. Even the weakest left wing interest is determined to get a slice of the pie no matter how little sense it makes. Nothing else explains why people like Kevin Jennings are “Czars” in the Obama White House.  He’s not particularly competent or particularly wholesome, but he’s one of the boys and has to be rewarded. If the era of Hopeychange is a go-ahead for aggressors abroad, domestically it is a signal for all of the hacks to make hay while the sun shines.

This go-ahead has caused entropy to grow both domestically and internationally. Whenever something is “too good to last”, it probably won’t. And that creates another source of instability. Whether on the subject of health care “reform” or “climate change” the rapid decline in the President’s political fortunes signals that the window of opportunity is closing; that the lights having been been showing green in only one direction for nearly a year are going to change. The irate motorists who have been held up at the red for so long are spilling out of their cars and making for the signal box. The green light lane goes faster because they don’t want to be caught by the inevitable red. The interesection becomes a very dangerous place.

President Obama is now coaxing the last miles out of his remaining momentum. He is counting on his personal “magic” to get an agreement in Copenhagen, envisioning himself as a literal tie-breaker in a conference that would be doomed to deadlock without him. The LA Times writes:

Increasingly optimistic that decisions by China and India will yield a breakthrough in international climate negotiations, President Obama announced Friday that he would take a more active and dramatically timed role at this month’s climate summit in Copenhagen.

Obama will push back his visit to the conference to its final scheduled day, putting him in a better position to help broker an agreement, the White House announced.

The White House also said the United States would pay “its fair share” of a $10-billion-a-year, short-term financing package from wealthy nations to help developing nations adapt to rising temperatures and make the transition to low-emission energy sources. It’s unclear what that share would be, but Obama included more than $1 billion for such efforts in his proposed 2010 budget.

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer has got it wrong. A soaring debt doesn’t mean that “the days of blithely heaping more and more debt burden on the general fund are over”. It means that now more than ever they should begin. Go back to the example of the interesection. Everyone knows what the lights mean: red means stop; green means go; yellow means go faster. When President Obama runs out of steam and money, he’ll simply think of something else.

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Hat tip: American Digest