The End of the Memory Hole
One of the most puzzling aspects of current events is the contrast between the ever increasing size of government and its paradoxical helplessness. It gets bigger and more impotent at the same time. Charles Krauthammer has a long list of Obama administration failures. Never has the White House had such a free hand in foreign affairs. Yet Krauthammer notes that Russian bombers are now based out of Iran, American troops are under serious threat of attack from an enemy air force (Syria!) Putin is threatening to annex the Crimea, which Obama promised never to allow and the administration has just admitted paying ransom to one of the chief terror nations on earth. The more power Obama is given, the less he seems to be able to do with it.
This is true of domestic policy as well. Margot Sanger Katz describes in the New York Times how the administration spent $1.2 trillion dollars spent on Obamacare only to collapse into Medicaid. "Think your Obamacare plan will be like employer coverage?" she asks. "Think again". Yet this was his signature plan, his legacy, his glory.
Six years into the health law, the reality is that a typical Obamacare plan looks more like Medicaid, only with a high deductible. ... that change in norms may not be all bad. It largely reflects the preferences of Obamacare’s consumers, who are shopping aggressively for the most affordable health insurance they can find." ...
When the first Obamacare plans were released for 2014, many experts and customers were surprised at how many featured very limited numbers of doctors and hospitals.
Three years later, and the trend has only intensified. Many of the companies providing employer-based coverage, like UnitedHealth Group, Aetna and Humana, which tended to offer broad networks, have been exiting the markets.
Surprisingly such debacles have less impact than before. Putin for example has outsmarted Obama repeatedly but failed to benefit from it. By now he should have been sailing the Baltic Fleet up the East Coast. Yet "even if there had been no war in Ukraine, sanctions or low oil prices, Russia would be facing a systemic economic crisis. The existing model of state capitalism that lives off of commodities exports —redistributing revenues among the population and stimulating consumer spending to catalyze business activities —exhausted its potential for growth in 2013."
In the 20th century political victories and conquest actually resulted in real power, at least in perception. Today they are curiously decoupled. Great bureaucratic empires no longer translate to great power. Take the EU. Daniel Hannan observed that when the UK joined the Brussels 40 years ago, it comprised a quarter of the world economy. But the bigger it grew the less important in relative terms the EU became.
The acquisition of permanent majorities, media dominance and even police power only makes one a bigger fish in a shrinking pond. It's a depressing time to be a political activist and National Public Radio captures the mood of leftist cohort that has repeatedly turned the corner expecting to find a Worker's Paradise only to find Student Debt. In an article titled Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change? NPR describes the following scene: "standing before several dozen students in a college classroom, Travis Rieder tries to convince them not to have children. ... 'Here's a provocative thought: Maybe we should protect our kids by not having them,' Rieder says." Imgine! Eight years spent creating a Hope and Change, Planned Parenthood world and it's not worth living in.