Nemesis, After All
A Plodding Goddess
Like a broken record, for the last five years I have invoked the Greek concept of Nemesis, or divine retribution for unchecked hubris, to explain what was in store for the Obama administration.
Most readers have sighed, “OK already, but where’s the divine retribution, given this president’s overweening arrogance and the damage that he’s doing to the economy, our social fabric, and foreign policy?”
Patience -- Nemesis takes her time surveying human kind before figuring out the properly ironic punishment.
She must soak in vero possumus, the fake Greek colonnade, the “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” narcissism, the cooling the planet and lowering the rising seas riffs, the tingling legs, the "perfectly creased pant," the Obama “as god,” the smartest president ever, and the Obama who is by his own admission better at each of the crafts of his specialized staff.
Then she must consider “punish our enemies,” "fat cat bankers," "you didn’t build that," "bitter clingers," "spread the wealth around," and dozens of additional slurs and banalities. To digest all that takes even the goddess some time.
The young, inexperienced, but haughty Obama is a stereotypical figure right out of Greek mythology. Sometimes he is poor arrogant Icarus -- flying too high on his frail and melting waxen wings. Or is he arrogant young Phaethon? The latter demanded the reins of his father's sun chariot -- only to end up in flames as his out-of-control divine car scorched the earth (unfortunately we are the earth). Often Obama seems a know-it-all Oedipus who believed that he was so smart that the far older world of chance and fate had to yield to his superior reason. Or is he vain Narcissus, so taken with his image in the reflecting pool that Nemesis allowed him to stare forever transfixed at himself?
Do we remember the bloody battle over health care in 2009: the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, the war against Catholic institutions, the advice to pass the bill unconditionally to learn what was in it -- all at a time of massive deficits and high unemployment, when we could ill afford such a divisive and costly boondoggle?
Obama in hubristic fashion got his wish, as he sought his own “legacy” or “signature achievement” over what was good for the country. Obamacare became the law of the land. Its freebies of wider coverage supposedly at first came at no cost.
Obama vs. Obama
Who, after all, was against putting their 24-year-old kid back on the family health plan? Then started the insidious new taxes, then the planned diversions from Medicare to pay for new humane coverage. Now looms the awful reality of its 2014 enactment and the burdens to come on small businesses that are desperately preempting the law by converting full-time positions into part-time jobs.
Once again comes the ancient warning: beware of what you wish for. Suddenly the 2014 election looms. Democrats in mixed districts are anxious. The new Obamacare rules are slated to hit voters right before most of the Congress seeks reelection. The signature achievement of the Obama administration is ending up as the proverbial albatross around its neck. When the author of the bill, Sen. Max Baucus, dubbed his own creation “a train wreck,” the description stuck.
Then Nemesis struck. Not Republicans in the House, not right-wing judges, but Obama himself tabled much of the most important parts in the implementation of the bill. For now he has almost killed off his own offspring, not in the promised most transparent fashion in the history of the presidency, but cheaply and perhaps cowardly on a little read website at the start of a long holiday. It is as if the president can pick and choose which laws he administers and which he simply ignores, but is terribly ashamed to admit such.
Nemesis warns us on the eve of the immigration debate that if Obama will ignore the legal requirements of his own bill, then he surely will be even bolder in subverting the legislative work of others. When shortly he will again lament that he is not a king or tyrant, remember that the disclaimer usually presages his attempt to act like one. Also remember that the best warning about Obama always comes from Obama: when he sermonizes to us about cheap photo-ops, endless campaigning and fund-raising, spiking the football, going after enemies, etc., then we expect that he is shortly to do all that and more.