Skip to comments.Our Obama Saga [Victor Davis Hanson dissects Obama, painfully, again]
Posted on 02/03/2010 4:25:40 AM PST by Tolik
The verdict is still out on whether this attempt to become more like Europe can be stopped.
The story will eventually be written something like this:
Chapter One The Liberal Hope and Dream
I think our Obama collective story will some day be written something like this. The leftwing anointed vision of America got stalled with the failures of the Great Society, and the high tax, big government discontent of the 1970s and 1980s.
Abroad after Vietnam, the gospel that America was the problem sputtered out with the fall of the Soviet Union, the rejoicing in Eastern Europe with the liberation from communism, the market reforms of China, and the general rise of a murderous radical Islam, coupled with the later 9/11 attacks.
In short, doctrinaire liberalism, now to be recast as progressivism, was in trouble. About all that could be hoped for in lieu of ideological governance were entrenched liberal congressional enclaves, which served traditional Democratic constituencies and offered occasional opposition to conservative excess and corruption of the Abramoff sort.
Jimmy Carter was simply too inept, self-righteous, and inexperienced to retake Rome from the barbarians. A gifted Bill Clinton might have; but he was too savvy for subservience to an unpopular ideology, too enslaved instead to his multifarious appetites and too malleable and worried about Bill Clinton to be a principled avatar of hope and change.
So the media, academia, the unions, the foundations, and the elite on Wall Street kept waiting for the Great Stone Face to appear the saintly deliverer who would at last have the requisite skill and pedigree to bring a benevolent liberal statism to the unwashed, who for so long in their ignorance and selfish, petty agendas had resisted what was good for them.
Chapter Two The Perfect Storm
Then the unexpected occurred without warning. The Iraq War was successfully demagogued as Vietnam redux. Indeed, we still apparently think it was lost, and the surge a failure. The Republican Congress by 2006 was mired in corruption. After eight years of Republican rule, conservatives of the base had tired of 50/50 deal making that had resulted in more big government and big deficits.
John McCain almost seemed more interested in losing majestically to our first serious African-American presidential candidate than conducting a hardball successful campaign. He too had alienated his base in the past, and many never forgot it, as their lackluster emotional and financial support attested.
Barack Obama, in contrast, offered to many an irresistible win/win proposition: centrist, bipartisan governance, and absolution for past sins through the election of a president of color. That Obama was young and patterned himself after JFK in his eloquence and pizzazz made a nice antithesis to George Bushs tongue-tied speeches. And that the world promised that they would like us again only made it all the sweeter for the gullible.
Chapter Three The Ascension
So Obama came in, quickly shed his thin centrist exoskeleton, and started in on the long promised bigger government agenda. In short order, we saw the absorption of some of the private sector, attempts at statist health care, and appointments that reflected an equality-of-result philosophy, mandated and enforced by a guardian class of Ivy-League technocrats, immune to the protocols they enforced on ignorant others, although, unlike Platos overseers, subject to no harsh regimen.
Abroad, at last we would fulfill the old pledge of the United Nations, follow global consent, back out of worthless old alliances, reach out to misunderstood nationalists, admit prior guilt, appreciate the role of race, class, and gender oppression in world affairs, scoff at artificial Manichean divides and inherit a multilateral world in which an unexceptional United States became simply one among many, unqualified to judge others, unable to enforce artificially constructed rules of international behavior.
Obama was the ultimate homeopathic cure the patient by giving more of what caused the symptoms in the first place. If for a half-century an encroaching government, ever more regulations, politicized education, therapeutic stifling of free expression, higher and higher taxes, and expanding entitlements had threatened to make America less competitive, less free, and less prosperous than it could be, Obama in reaction would apply more of the same to cure the patient. Bushs deficits? Expand them fourfold? Unfunded Prescription Drug try Unfunded State Health Care. Fifty-percent of income given over to local, state, and federal taxes? raise them far higher.
Chapter Four The Resistance
Yet all that was not easy for a variety of reasons.
1) The United States had become so fabulously wealthy, so unimaginably free, and so roundly envied precisely because for two centuries it had promoted individual freedom, equality of opportunity, and free market economics in contrast to the other Western variant of mandated egalitarianism, government control of behavior, and state-run commerce. As the tea-party protests proved, traditions die hard and free peoples do not easily surrender their prerogatives to Ivy-league philosopher-kings.
2) While Obama was certainly a new and gifted candidate, and while he was surely to the left even of Carter and Clinton, and while he inherited majorities in both houses of Congress, and while the stars really did line up for him in autumn 2008, he was in many respects to prove a flawed leader of the leftist renaissance.
Obama knew little of Middle America and had little desire to learn. His idea of the nuances of the United States was gleaned from the university seminar and the federal payroll. Hyphenated racial-self-identity had always proved lucrative and was not to be abandoned. Postmodern indifference to the truth and facts ensured that much of what the President asserted, in reality, was not merely inaccurate but the exact opposite of what he claimed.
While Obama, the quick study, understood the role of deception, triangulation, and fudging in free-for-all politics, it was nevertheless difficult for him for long to disguise forty years of inculcation. So like a leaky faucet, the drops of an entrenched and rather scary philosophy now and then splashed upon us Van Jones, Ron Bloom, and Anita Dunn echoed a prevailing ideological landscape.
Then there was the presidential insistence that police stereotype and act stupidly. We heard non-stop the old-time gospel that the better off must pay their fair share and spread their ill-gotten wealth, if they are to be deemed patriotic. As in the 1960s, America should apologize, given that it was as culpable as Europe or Islam for current global tensions. And so on.
3) The hypocrisy of left-wing redistribution politics and the enjoyment of the high-life, brought about by the fruits of capitalism, is a heavy anchor for Obama. Tim Geithner does not like to pay high taxes. Nancy Pelosi does like nice jets. Barack Obama likes junkets. So does Harry Reid. Charles Rangel likes hiding income on resort property. John two nations Edwards likes Johns Room in his mansion, and Green Al Gore enjoys his most ungreen estate. In other words, progressivism is easily identified as cynicism, as a condescending plaything of the well-off, who are exempt, either by government largess or private capital, from the very strictures they would impose on less knowledgeable others.
Chapter Five The Verdict Is Still Out
So here we are after a year with the president below 50% in the polls, the progressive dream for a bit stalled, and the media uncertain whether to press ahead with their Ministry of Truth homage, or to bail before Obama shreds their last vestiges of disinterested credibility and takes them down with him. Or is that an overstatement?
I confess I am not entirely confident that this third great attempt in the last three decades to become Europe can be so easily stopped (and yet in just 12 months we saw the greatest decline in popularity of any first-year president in poll-recorded history).
So why the doubt?
The enormous borrowing for a time may spark an inflation-driven expansion timed to coincide with the November election. GDP growth will accelerate while worries about mega-deficits, stagflation, and persistent unemployment will, for a while, be put off to 2011. Much of the TARP money will be released in late summer, and it will create a temporary uplifting effect, analogous to the final binge of a soon to be maxed-out credit card.
We also have not quite yet seen the bitter pushback: expect a renewed Bush did it offensive, the promiscuous playing of the racial card to stifle dissent, and stimulus money lavished on everyone from train aficionados to solar panel producers. Do not underestimate either the role of the SEIU or Acorn-like groups during registration and balloting in key close run congressional races.
Americans have never given up on a president so early. To do so would mean to a majority of voters not merely that they were wrong, but terribly wrong. To admit that is difficult; to admit that so early is terribly difficult.
While much criticism is made of the presidents scripted eloquence, his reliance on the teleprompter, his unease with repartee, his awkwardness in question and answer, nonetheless he is skilled with the teleprompter, and much of his message to many of the people can be teleprompted.
After all, that is in part how a two-year senator got elected in the first place. And as a rhetorician, Obama is skilled in weaving alternate realities. For you reader, his recent exegesis of his broken promises to put the health care debate on C-SPAN (it was sort of aired, didnt you know that, dummies) was preposterous. But admit as well that such a bold alibi came right out of the mouth of Saruman in his Orthanc mellifluous, assured, seamlessly shameless. It would make even Tartuffe proud. Obamas art is more than just teleprompted eloquence.
And Obama offers his best rhetorical performances when tottering at the abyss, as we saw with his Rev. Wright sophistry.
It wont be enough for conservatives to say they are not Obama, and not ready to become a socialist Belgium. They need far more a systematic agenda that outlines exactly how Americans are to become fiscally solvent, what and how much should be cut, a vow to end the congressional culture of corruption and become Spartan in our congressional habits, a confident energy policy that encourages nuclear, natural gas, and oil drilling to tide us over to new sources of energies, and a new resolve to enforce our borders, and end the naïve posturing of treating our war against Islamic jihadism as some sort of interesting legal debate that bounces around the philosophy department lounge.
This election the stakes are not just the particular career of yet another politician, but the very way our United States will fare for a generation. Rarely has the Left so ambitiously and brazenly set out a statist agenda, to radically transform America by establishing such gargantuan deficits that a variety of tax increases to prevent bankruptcy will mean that the nations entrepreneurial class will pay between 60 and 65% of their incomes in taxes spreading the wealth in pursuit of redistributive change. Since the economy experienced GDP growth over 5% in the last quarter, these record deficits are more than stimulus. They are unabashedly ideological in nature. My only puzzlement is whether Obama is primarily interested in the growing of government per se, so that new millions of loyal constituents can either administer or receive entitlements or his primary interest is in piling up red-ink to such a degree that record new state income, federal income, payroll, capital gains, and property taxes will radically redistribute income: the entrepreneur will accept that he can keep scarcely 40% of his gross income, and cant pass on his lifes work without 45-55% in inheritance taxes to a government to redistribute to more deserving others, and in despair accept his fate that he is just a cog in the wheel like everyone else. (E.g., So why do the extra work, when the government will take it while alive and after death?)
With such stakes, it is a great time to be alive in the arena. And each according to his station should be excited that he can, must rise to the occasion to ward off this latest challenge to the old notion of a republic of free and independent citizens who arent quite yet willing to surrender what the great generations of the past suffered so much to pass on to us.
Just a partial list: http://www.freerepublic.com/tag/victordavishanson/index:
Just a partial list. Much more at the link: http://www.freerepublic.com/tag/victordavishanson/index
The Obamarang. [Victor Davis Hanson dissects, deconstructs, ridicules and demolishes Zeros lies] Trashing the Job Makers. The Obama administrations tax-talking frenzy has left business owners feeling uncertain The Usual Straw Men. Obamas half-hearted pivoting was quite transparent As Predictable as Clockwork the Obama three-step [Victor Davis Hanson continues to ridicule Zero] Obama versus Obama (More classic VDH slapdown of the ONE) Obama in Free Fall Obama And Campaign Financing (Victor Davis Hanson On Obama's Hypocrisy Alert) Post-election Thoughts (Liberals do not understand populist outrage. Bloodletting will Continue) Our Philosopher-King Obama. He doesnt mind pushing noble legislation that most people oppose Why The Great And Growing Backlash? What Scott Browns election portends for the Obama agenda "Let me be perfectly NOT clear" & "Make lots of MISTAKES about it" [Victor Davis Hanson on Obama's lies] Our Sorta, Kinda War on Terror - President Obama has not signed up for a serious effort against radical Islam Truths We Dare Not Speak. Five propositions that simply have become taboo When Conservative Felonies Become Liberal Misdemeanors 2010: Our Year of Decision Beating the Dead Terrorist Horse. September 11 taught us many lessons. To our peril, we have forgotten them Bush Did It! And, Really, Bush Did It! And Bush Really Did It! A Humpty-Dumpty View of the World 2009 Chickens and Their 2010 Roost Where Did These Guys Come From? The Origins of Obamism The War Against the Wannabe Rich. Why attack the productive classes who want to be rich? The Long March From California to Copenhagen [Hanson on debate between capitalism and socialism] The Palin Wonder Why Are We Tiring of Obama? Change, Weakness, Disaster, Obama: Answers from Victor Davis Hanson If Iran Refuses To Cooperate, Block Its Ports Resetting the Reset Button [Victor Davis Hanson dissects 0's pathetic diplomacy] Riding the Back of the Tiger [Victor Davis Hanson on Obama not understanding What Causes Wars...] What Bush Inherited, and What He Left Left Behind Who Are They? To Obama, they are responsible for all our troubles. Problem is, they are most of us Afghan Mythologies. We have everything we need to defeat the Taliban. The Discreet Charm of the Left-wing Plutocracy Truman and the Principles of U.S. Foreign Policy. Jimmy Carter rejected the postwar consensus. President Obama appears to be following a similar path Dr. Barack and Mr. Obama - The backlash is sharp as voters learn that Obama is not the man they thought he was Obama and "Redistributive Change". His real agenda The War Against the Producers President Palins First 100 Days. Imagine if Sarah Palin had Obamas record Thoughts About Depressed Americans Our Battered American [gets angrier - Must Read Rant]
Combined PING to 2 ping lists
FR Index of his articles: http://www.freerepublic.com/tag/victordavishanson/index NRO archive: http://author.nationalreview.com/?q=MjI1MQ==
I will try not to abuse the ping list and not to annoy you too much, but on some days there is more of the good stuff that is worthy of attention.
You are welcome to browse the list of truly exceptional articles I pinged to lately. Updated on January 13, 2010. on my page.
Besides this one, I keep 2 separate PING lists for my favorite authors Victor Davis Hanson and Orson Scott Card.
ping for post-coffee read
Mr. President, Words Matter. Obama, the rhetorician, forgot that people might actually take seriously what he said
NRO ^ | February 3, 2010 | Victor Davis Hanson
The guys must be Leftists: they are laughing while being taxed. Or delusional. Oops, it’s the same mental disorder.
Many on the right fail to understand that we are in the Middle of a Spiritual War, in short, we are at the doorway of the biblical last days.
Politics ceased to be the main issue years ago....but lots of folks don’t want to admit that truth.
Saruman Obama, that about sums it up perfectly. Great read.
I agree Devildog, this is a spiritual war. Right now. I think it won’t be long until this spiritual war spills over into a world war.
But, we win in the end. Semper Fi!
Many on the right fail to understand that we are in the Middle of a Spiritual War, in short, we are at the doorway of the biblical last days.
Politics ceased to be the main issue years ago....but lots of folks dont want to admit that truth.
I can’t love Obama....I’m sorry, he is a demon to me and needs to be cast out in the Name of Jesus.
We are past the point of redemption as a nation....its time for the Body of Christ to prepare to “Stand”.
For those that are called to watch, the enemy is at the gates.
I think someone who promised to slash and cut the budget -- and to do it for real -- could be really popular right now. I think Americans are disgusted and want to get their house in order.
His idea of the nuances of the United States was gleaned from Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.
Victor Davis Hanson is the first instance of Historian 2.0, the real-time historian. Unlike past historians, who needed decades to interpret and contextualize historical events, Hanson uses his intimate knowledge of the decades, centuries, and millennia past to "historize" events as they happen.