The PJ Tatler

Playing the 'Long Game' with Obama

The Obama administration is embroiled in five scandals.  Some on the right are saying that the IRS and AP fiascoes, in particular, are impeachable offenses. These incidents of government abuse are awful  and they have members of both sides outraged over these developments.  The media, at the moment, has turned against the president.  All over social media, we have petitions to impeach the president, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


Obama is out in 2016.  He’s finished.  But his ideology will continue to live on in future elections.  This is the point Ben Domenech made in his May 16 column in Real Clear Politics.  Conservatives need to play the ‘long game’ with these scandals.  While we have an extraordinary chance to cut the achilles tendon of this administration, we have an even better opportunity to gut the core of American liberalism, and their inane love affair with big government.

The point is that these scandals cut at the core conceit of Obama’s ideology: the healthy and enduring confidence of big government to be good government. As technological capabilities advance and the scope of government expands, the types of domestic scandals we’re seeing here are only going to increase in frequency and invasiveness, with personal information shared more frequently, easier for even low level bureaucrats to acquire and manipulate. At the same time, Americans are becoming increasingly skeptical and cynical about their public institutions, with their trust in the federal government at historic lows. They distrust the agencies and bureaucrats even as the politicians of our age are investing more and more power in them.

Today, the media, the Obama administration, and David Axelrod are undertaking the task that conservatives could not: illustrating with each passing day that the progressive approach to modern governance and policy is inherently flawed and that vast governments are ripe for abuse. What we are seeing from the IRS and the DOJ is not something new, nor does it represent a perverse approach to benign bureaucracy: it is the inevitable consequence of an approach which puts mechanisms in place and then assumes they will not be used for ill. You should expect government to go as far as it can, whenever it can, in any ways that it can, toward the full exploitation of the power made available to it. Expecting government to behave otherwise is to expect the scorpion not to sting the frog.


When this period of scandal draws to a close, if the idea still survives that a more competent and ethical president would be able to effectively govern a $4 trillion bureaucracy, it will be a sign Republicans have failed. They can succeed by ignoring the tempting bait of making this about the president they despise, and focusing instead on the false philosophy of expansive government which represents the true danger to the American experiment. Doing so will require them to go against their own short-term viewpoint, so prevalent in recent years, and look instead to the long game.


Then again, this is all dependent on flawless execution on behalf of the Republican leadership in Congress, which hasn’t been all that spectacular, especially with members of the old guard, like McCain and Graham, still clogging things up.  Yet, if successful, we could stain liberalism for years to come, and that could lead to making inroads with Millennials, who already have a strong distrust of government.  Nevertheless, the chance Republicans can overreach with these scandals is also high.

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