As Republicans gnaw at each other’s throats, playing a desperate game of “I’m more conservative than you,” something yet more depressing and deeply ironic is occurring: Capitalism is saving Obama.
In the spirit of “no bad deed goes unrewarded,” the very system our president cut his teeth on despising — the unbridled free market — is on its way to securing him a second term. (Well, it may not be as “unbridled” as it once was, but it is unbridled enough to work some magic.)
Yes, I am well aware that the unemployment numbers are fudged; that whatever recovery exists is flimsy at best and most probably not even there. In fact, we may be poised on the brink of a depression even greater than the Thirties.
But the reverse may also be true. Capitalism — that sturdiest of systems — may be righting itself to some degree. A recovery may be under way despite the wrongheaded policies of an administration seemingly determined to undermine it.
Investors apparently think so. The stock market had a remarkable January and, if this trend continues, it could start to spill cash, positively influencing the economy at large, even the depressed housing market at the heart of the global meltdown.
More likely not. More likely this is just one of those temporary roller-coaster swings that occurred during the Thirties. Nevertheless, elections are about perception and capitalism, of all things, appears to be giving the euro-socialist Obama a reprieve. The media is already trumpeting his success and, of course, they will continue to do so into the Fall.
Meanwhile, the social issues have, at least for the moment, taken over the Republican debate. I would be very surprised if they remained meaningful during the general election. The American public, suffering through one of the longest recessions on record, is thirsting for economic salvation. A party that tries to win the battle of 2012 over condoms, abortions or gays is fighting the wrong war at the wrong time.
It is also playing into the hands of its adversaries and making them stronger.
What a lucky man Obama has been and apparently still is. Perhaps we should call him Lucky Barack, in homage to Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim. But in actuality the President more closely resembles Chauncey Gardiner of Jerzy Kosinki’s Being There. That comparison is surprisingly apt. Obama is essentially a pseudo-intellectual, dyspeptic and self-centered version of Gardiner, originally and ironically named Chance, rising out of obscurity to everyone’s astonishment to be president of the United States.
Of course, Obama’s rise is not entirely accidental. A major characteristic of modern liberal/leftism, indeed one of its hallmarks, is a kind of determined fakery, using a pretense of anti-capitalism as a masquerade for greed. It’s an old and cynical game. Many of the richest people in the world are self-described liberals who shout loudly for supposed “progressive” causes, creating foundations proclaiming their goody-goodyism while quietly salting away billions for personal gain.
Obama is the perfect president for them.
And now, as I write this on a Monday night of President’s Weekend, Dow futures are up for tomorrow at .46%, as are the S&P and the Nasdaq. Read those statistics, conservatives, and weep.
(One possible piece of good news for Republicans in all this: The percentage of Americans who own stock is only 54%, down from a high of 67% in 2002.)