The Post-Tucson Era
The Chrysalis Opens
The new Barack Obama has learned not to offer instantaneous editorial commentary in the fashion of his past editorializing on hearing of the Skip Gates affair, the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab bombing attempt, the Ground Zero mosque controversy, or the Maj. Hasan mass murdering.
Instead, the metamorphosizing president put his finger to the wind. He soon learned that his leftist base within 72 hours had turned off the public with its demagogic charges of conservative culpability for a deranged killer murdering the innocent. And so Obama summarily jettisoned his leftist scapegoating base. In dispassionate fashion, he figured that within hours the New York Times et al. would Trotskyize their earlier narratives, and most of the left would cease the poll-killing (excuse the metaphor) “climate of hate” narrative.
He was right. The progressive community snapped back into line, reminding the country that the desire for power and status always trumps ideology. Hillary Clinton was especially embarrassed: one day she was sermonizing on foreign soil in morally equivalent fashion about an American version of an “extremist”; the next day, her boss told the world that the only thing extreme about the killer was his own nihilistic madness (and by implication damned those vultures [e.g., Ms. Clinton included] who clumsily try to make political points from tragedy).
Now gone from the Obama rhetorical arsenal (excuse the metaphor) entirely are his old partisan Chicago allusions of both the campaign and last autumn — the potpourri imagery of knives, guns, enemies, punishing, kicking ass, relegation to the backseat, get angry, getting in their face, hostage takers, trigger fingers, tearing up, etc. Instead, all that was replaced by an elegant speech that was also both sober and judicious. Had a Republican given such a sensitive oration, the right would be praising the text for its undeniable logic, humanity, and sense. Many, in fact, in the conservative community did just that.
And the Polls Prove It
The result is that for the first time in well over a year, Obama’s positives outpolled his negatives, and pundits almost immediately evoked Bill Clinton in 1995-6, with all the requisite strained but not necessarily incorrect symptomatology — the Bill Daley chief-of-staff appointment, the cave-in on the Bush income tax rates, and, of course, the continuance of the Bush national security measures here and abroad, with the general amnesia about closing Guantanamo within a year of his inauguration and trying KSM in a Manhattan courtroom. In a world in which the Gulag in Cuba has been reinvented as a campus for “detainees,” anything is possible. And the likelihood in this new age of increased Predators, renditions, and preventative detention that we will ever see another Hollywood Redacted or Rendition is zero.
Will Obama 2.0 work? Perhaps, especially if conservatives ornate the Clinton ’96 analogy with their own Bob Dole in 2012. But all that said, the wages of hubris — nemesis — are not so easily forgotten. She is a persistent goddess that like a moth to a flame is drawn to narcissism and “I/me/my” self-congratulation.
Then There's Gas
Obama in 2011 has a rendezvous with $4 a gallon gas and $100 a barrel oil. For two years, the administration has shut down new leasing of fossil fuels in the West; curtailed them in and around the Gulf; pontificated about, but not acted much on, nuclear power; and more or less unleashed everyone from Van Jones to Steven Chu to talk up global warming and talk down finding a necessary window of security in new sources of oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear power until technology and the market transition us to next-generation fuels.
The worldwide recession gave Obama two years of relatively cheap oil and gas, a breathing space which unfortunately he used to fantasize about wind and solar, rather than rush to create expanded sources of tried energy. That tab is coming due. “Drill, baby, drill” was not Sarah Palin's mythmaking. We forget that what sunk the McCain campaign was the September 2008 meltdown that not only raised specters of a 1929 crash, but soon crashed oil prices as the world went into deeper recession — and gave Obama between 2009-10 relatively cheap gas at the pump and thus a buffer to his otherwise disastrous Keynesian policies.