More debt, please?
1. Please explain this: Barack Obama entered office; nationalized health care; ran up record $1 trillion deficits; promised to hike taxes on the rich; pushed cap and trade through the House; took over large chunks of banks, insurance companies, and auto corporations; made hard-left appointments from Van Jones to Sonia Sotomayor — and in 21 months saw his positives crash from near 70% in January 2009 to little above 40%, with the specter of near record Democratic losses in the Congress just two years after the anti-Bush/anti-Iraq sweep of 2008.
All the polls of independents and moderates show radical shifts and express unhappiness with higher taxes, larger deficits, a poor economy, and too much government. In other words, the electorate is not angry that Obama has moved too far to the right or stayed in the center or borrowed too little money. A Barney Frank or Dennis Kucinich is looking at an unusually tight race in a very liberal district not because liberals have had it with them, but because large numbers of moderates and independents most surely have.
Yet if one were to read mainstream Democratic analysis, there is almost no acknowledgment that the party has become far too liberal. Indeed, they fault Obama for not being liberal enough, or, in the case of the Paul Krugman school, for not borrowing another trillion dollars for even more stimulus, despite the failure of the earlier borrowing. In fact, Obamaites offer three unhinged exegeses for the looming defeat: a) there is no looming defeat: the Democrats will still keep the House; or b) Obama did not prove to be the radical as promised; or c) the American people are clueless and can’t follow science and logic and therefore do not know what is good for them.
Do liberals really believe that had they rammed down cap and trade, borrowed $6 trillion instead of $3 trillion the last 21 months, and obtained blanket amnesty their candidates would be posed to ward off Republican attacks this election year? The problem right now with Greece is that it borrows too little, hires too few, and spends not enough?
2. What is it with former Democratic presidents? Cannot they let it be and recede into retirement in the manner of a Nixon, Ford, or Reagan? His multimillion overseas speaking junkets to oil rich dictatorships now nullified by Hillary’s tenure as secretary of State, a restless Bill Clinton is once more still shaking his finger, haranguing the electorate, knee deep in partisan politics, and now caught in intrigue trying to oust the African-American Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Florida.
Meanwhile our other Democratic president emeritus, Jimmy Carter, is still hawking yet another take on his failed presidency of some thirty years past. Not content with trying to undermine United Nations support for the U.S. during the 1991 Gulf War, or intriguing against the U.S. during the debate over the Iraq war as requisite for a long coveted Nobel Peace Prize, or calling George Bush, Sr. “effeminate,” or slurring George W. Bush as the “worst” president in history, or smearing Tony Blair, Carter now complains that we simply did not understand his magnificent tenure that ended in January 1981 with 21% interest rates, unemployment over 7%, inflation running at almost 14%, gas lines, and little growth — with Iran still holding hostages and the Soviets on the move in Afghanistan and Central America.
Why, in other words, cannot a Carter and Clinton, like Bush I and II, simply fade into the shadows without perpetually campaigning to remake their images? Why is not George H.W. Bush as angry as Carter at a lost second term? Does not George W. Bush feel the media demonized him over Iraq as much as they did Clinton during Monicagate? Apparently, they refuse to admit that the country is center-right and both do not understand that they were elected despite rather than because of that fact.
The people's yacht
3. What is it with John Kerry? He is now pontificating again and once more furious with us, the idiots in his royal presence — "It's absurd. We've lost our minds. We're in a period of know-nothingism in the country, where truth and science and facts don't weigh in. It's all short-order, lowest common denominator, cheap-seat politics."
Has he simply channeled the president’s earlier anger at our unscientific minds? But the yokels’ skepticism that man-made global warming was still controversial was born out by revelations of forged and inexact research, and human embryos proved not the only pathway to conduct stem-cell research, and Keynesian massive borrowing has little record of creating permanent wealth and employment.
This follows the more recent, “We have an electorate that doesn’t always pay that much attention to what’s going on, so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what’s happening.” (Translation = like in 2004, the sick voters are once again stupidly rejecting their medicine.)
Both outbursts remind us of the 2004 blurt-out about George Bush, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this idiot.” That was itself a prelude to the later 2006 put-down, "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." (Translation = George Bush really did not, really, really did not have higher SAT scores than I did, and I have no idea that education levels in the U.S. military exceed those of the general population.)
(P.S. The Tea Party would answer that its members at least know that it is not smart to buy a $7 million sailing yacht in the midst of a recession while trying to avoid $500,000 in assorted property and excise taxes, while advocating higher taxes on the upper-middle class.)
Kerryism — like Obama’s recent lamentations and expansions on his “clingers” speech — is simply a reflection of the angst of modern elite liberalism, and shared by everyone from Barack Obama to Al Gore. Its tenets are familiar: a) an anointed technocratic class, without much first-hand knowledge of the lives of its constituencies, is the self-appointed protector of the federally subsidized underclass against the ravages of the demonic private-sector robber classes; b) requisite knowledge to oversee us is adjudicated by certificates from Ivy League schools and soaring rhetorical tropes, never by a record of creating capital or jobs; to the degree one can make a clever argument, the economy is supposed to rebound, jobs follow, and peace spreads abroad; c) to the degree one demonizes the supposedly unthinking middle class, its lifestyle, its culture, and its worldview, the more one can enjoy without guilt the aristocratic good life — think of the penance that allows Al Gore’s jetting or mansions, John Edwards’s big house, or the Kerry playthings.
In other words, the thinking is “I care for “them,” even when they don’t fathom it. So my yacht provides necessary downtime for me to recharge before reentering the fray to fight for more redistributive largess for those who know not what I do.
Article printed from Works and Days: https://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson
URL to article: https://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/the-inexplicables