Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The Obama Mystery
STICKING WITH DUCKING. Conservatives are presently in danger of adopting the same schizophrenic view of Obama that lefties had of George W. Bush. In one breath they would denounce his stupidity and in the next decry his fascist cunning. Frequently one could hear both these mutually exclusive characterizations issuing from the same mouth. That's probably why Cheney ultimately became the favorite villain of the left; he was the way to reconcile the irreconcilable. Cheney manipulated the idiot Bush and led the neocon conspiracy behind the scenes.
Now it's easy to hear the same kind of paradoxical descriptions of Obama. He's naive, inept, inexperienced, and fumbling. Also, he's a brilliant political mind who's working a strategy far beyond what anyone else can even comprehend, which is why he's so negligent about facts and details that would obsess lesser men. Which is it? It really can't be both.
The split in views of Obama is coming to something of a head this week. Even Democrats are sensing something of a mystery:
Senator: Democrats 'baffled' by president's health care stance
From CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash
WASHINGTON (CNN) – As the prospects for passing health reform by the time Congress leaves for its August recess look bleaker, Democratic grumbling about President Obama is growing louder. One Democratic senator tells CNN congressional Democrats are “baffled,” and another senior Democratic source tells CNN members of the president’s own party are still “frustrated” that they’re not getting more specific direction from him on health care. “We appreciate the rhetoric and his willingness to ratchet up the pressure but what most Democrats on the Hill are looking for is for the president to weigh in and make decisions on outstanding issues. Instead of sending out his people and saying the president isn’t ruling anything out, members would like a little bit of clarity on what he would support – especially on how to pay for his health reform bill,” a senior Democratic congressional source tells CNN.
Some conservatives have been modestly gleeful about these signs of disarray in congress and the multiplying cracks in the president's image of infallibility. At Hotair.com, which features a daily "Obamateurism" item illustrating Obama's manifold goofs, the healthcare bill is slowly removing the seven veils hiding the president's incompetence:
Obama says talking time over, but has no clue what’s in
ObamaCare; Update: Obama admits bill needs more work
“The time for talking is through,” sayeth the man who apparently doesn’t realize that Congress exists to debate legislation and not to muzzle itself and rubber-stamp executive initiatives. Of course, Barack Obama might be able to make that argument a little better if this particular executive took any sort of responsibility for the executive initiative in question. Real Clear Politics has this quote from the President who wants Congress to pass the health-care reform bill by the end of the month without debate, but who apparently has no clue as to what it says or how it works.
During the call, a blogger from Maine said he kept running into an Investors Business Daily article that claimed Section 102 of the House health legislation would outlaw private insurance. He asked: “Is this true? Will people be able to keep their insurance and will insurers be able to write new policies even though H.R. 3200 is passed?” President Obama replied: “You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you are talking about.”
Yet according to Rich Lowry of National Review, the president's seeming ignorance and detachment from the congressional process is proof of an exactly opposite appraisal of Obama:
An Ideologue in a Hurry
When the work product is indefensible, deliberation is dangerous.
By Rich Lowry
When Barack Obama pilfered Martin Luther King Jr.’s line about the “fierce urgency of now,” he wasn’t kidding. The line has come to define his presidency. His legislative strategy moves in two gears — heedlessly fast and recklessly faster.
As with the stimulus package, Obama’s health-care plan depends on speed. More important than any given provision, more important than any principle, more important than sound legislating is the urgent imperative to Do It Now....
Ramming through legislation without any assurance that it will work doesn’t seem pragmatic or farsighted. But for Obama’s purposes, it is. His goal is nothing short of an ideological reorientation of American government. Putting in place the structures to achieve this change in the power and role of government is more important than how precisely it is accomplished.
The stimulus might not do much to stimulate the economy during the recession, but its massive spending creates a new baseline for all future spending. The cap-and-trade bill might not reduce carbon emissions during the next decade, but it creates a mechanism for exerting government control over a huge swath of the economy. Obamacare might not work as advertised, but it will tip more people into government care and create the predicate for rationing and price controls. [emphasis mine]
Lowry is not alone in this. Throughout the halls of right-side punditry one can hear whispers of an emerging theory of Obama Fascism that is being systematically put in place with the ruthless dexterity of Machiavelli himself. This, for example, is the view being propounded by Glenn Beck every day on the radio, so it's by no means simply an elitist Republican notion.
But this isn't just another right-wing food fight. (Sorry. But we can't be solemn every minute of the day...) It's critically important which of these perspectives is correct, and it absolutely won't do to cite whichever one fits better with the headline of the day. We -- all of us -- really do need to understand what this guy is up to and whether he's as smart as he thinks he is or not. Why?
If the "subversive genius" theory is incorrect, we run the risk of outsmarting ourselves in the ways we choose to oppose him. For example, a lot of Republicans in congress seem openly intimidated by the president's constant tone and pose of implacable superiority. If they understood that he's a highly fallible human being, they might fight a lot harder in all the battles to come.
If the "inept amateur" theory is wrong, we run the risk of seriously underestimating the threat to our country and the constitution. While we content ourselves with lampooning his string of protocol missteps and endless apologies to America's enemies, he could be executing a plan that will be unstoppable before we detect its outlines. If he's that clever, everything we're doing now has been anticipated and is playing directly into his hands.
Another conservative, Byron York, thinks he sees a significant and growing vulnerability in the Obama plan for constitutional conquest:
Voters scared of Obama’s rushed ‘experiments’
By Byron York
July 21, 2009: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele blasted President Barack Obama's plans for the economy and health care in a speech at the National Press Club on Monday. (Seth Wenig/AP file)
With one word Monday, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele helped the GOP get back in the fight over health care and the entire Obama agenda. The word was “experiment.”
“Candidate Obama promised change,” Steele said in a speech at the National Press Club. “President Obama is conducting an experiment.” Steele went on to accuse Barack Obama of carrying out dangerous experiments with the nation’s health care, with the economy, with taxpayers’ dollars.
“Experiment” didn’t come from nowhere. “The term bubbled up from a set of focus groups we did with swing voters, independents, soft Republicans and soft Democrats,” says one strategist involved in an extensive RNC research effort nationwide and in key states like Virginia, Colorado and Florida. “It’s something that a vast majority of voters believe is true, that Obama is running what amounts to an experiment with our future.”
The RNC researchers came away convinced that Americans are scared. Certainly voters expected Obama to do things. But they are frightened by the sheer scope of the president’s proposals, the fiscal dangers they present and, perhaps most of all, the astonishing speed with which the administration is trying to enact such fundamental and far-reaching changes.
York and Lowry are two of the leading lights of the conservative braintrust. They need to get this sorted out. Their differences intersect way out in the future, sometime around 2012, but those differences are mightily significant.
If Lowry is right, Obama doesn't care about the huge political hit he is about to take if he actually succeeds in his quest for a healthcare bill. His "restructuring" of the nation is more important than the plunge in the polls he will experience when another bill read in full by no member of congress locks every American into a government monopoly of the largest sector of the economy. Why wouldn't he care? Because he's the equivalent of a mole-suicide-bomber who would rather complete his destruction of the American economy and constitution than be reelected? Because he fully intends such an utter breakdown of the American and dependent global capitalist system that he will be able to declare martial law a la Hitler and become the Hugo Chavez of the world's most powerful nation? Or because he has such infinite faith in the structural changes he's making in the electorate via billions of dollars of ACORN funding that he can rig any future election, no matter how badly the polls go against him? If any of these scenarios are accurate, we need to know.
If York is right, the President of the United States is actually out of his right mind. He is so obsessed with his own sense of himself that he is unable to see how rapidly his support is evaporating, how feckless he has been in pursuing a foreign policy that is "anything but Bush" and a domestic policy that is "anything but Clinton." In the first case, he kowtows to everyone in the vain belief that he will gain influence by not being the hated American cowboy, and in the second by abdicating every particular to congress in the vain belief that they will sustain his reckless and contemptuous schedule because the legislative nightmare they pass will be their own.
So. Is he Chavez? Or is he merely a smoother Jimmy Carter?
For what it's worth, here's my own opinion. I come down pretty firmly on the side of ineptitude. Yes, he has marxist dreams which linger unchallenged from his youth and extremely flawed education. (Any Fortune 500 hiring boss gets to look at a college transcript of courses taken; we don't get to see this for the president of the f___ing United States. My bet is, he's never taken a course in micro- or macro-economics and probably nothing in the way of history. His many gaffes on basic historical topics confirm this to me beyond doubt.) He may have utopian dreams about redistribution of wealth. But he has no sense of actual consequences. His whole life has been a proof that there are no consequences. They can always be mitigated or overcome by sallying up to that microphone and knocking'em dead with sonorous platitudes.
And, yes, he's a skillful enough politician to know that if he doesn't pass the biggest ticket items on his agenda soon, the polls will sag and the Democrats in congress will start fighting for their own lives. But he's also enough of a narcissist to find it impossible to believe that even a devastated economy and a frightened public won't rally to him when he starts to campaign against the dimwit Republicans who will run against him in 2012. Which is to say that he's delusional. That's why he's so incredibly fearless about lying on so many public stages, blithely assuring us that what he said a year ago isn't at all different from the exact opposite statements he's making today.
Most critically, most importantly, most indispensably for everyone to realize, his real Achilles heel is that he's lazy. Lazy in the way that people who have never really worked for a living invariably are. All his life, he has shown up and things have happened around him, for him, under him, invisibly to him, making up in innumerable subtle ways for all the onerous tasks he was always too self-important and self-absorbed and, yes, too unutterably lazy to do for himself. Other people have always taken care of the details, while he shows up to take the credit in a well modulated voice. That's why he can't be bothered to write (autobiographer and Harvard Law Review editor he) the bill that will fundamentally alter the American economy forever and why he can't even be bothered to read it. Someone else is supposed to handle it all while he coos from his telepromptered podium and jets off to another glamorous photo op with his newly haute couture wife. Getting his hands dirty isn't his job.
HE DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THAT THIS ISN'T HOW LIFE IS.
He's not a Grand Architect. He's an ideologue to be sure, but not one who has ever had to push past the platitudes to the heavy lifting.
We have elected as the President of the United States a speechwriter. One imbued with grand ideas and a grand sense of the unassailable morality of his grievances, his biases, his own sense of entitlement, his own imperviousness to the criticism of lesser mortals. But he doesn't know a damned thing about hard work. Which means he doesn't understand the immediacy of the personal responsibility when your own so-called leadership causes the shit to not only hit the fan but obliterate it entirely.
He may have in mind something like what Lowry is frightened of. But he is no Napoleon and no Hitler. (Both of them were soldiers, survivors, veterans of the kind of real physical danger that makes consequences vividly immediate.) He is a precocious pampered boy with the accidentally imposing voice of a grownup man (think of a slicker Ted Baxter). He's not a thinker, not a scholar, not a doer, and not a leader. He's afiirmative action on an ultimate, tragic scale. He may be an incredibly dangerous and careless vandal. But Machiavelli he ain't. We CAN defeat him by opposing him tooth and claw. One thing he's never encountered in his whole coddled life.
My opinion. Now you decide. What you decide is important. And you can't have it both ways.
UPDATE: Thanks to Ed Morrissey at Hotair.com for the link. It's also time for me to admit they've done a better job than any other blog site of tracking the absurdities of the healthcare bill and debate. I have my differences with Allah and Ed, but they're both fair-minded men. Now, if I could only tempt Allah into a formal debate on the subject of atheism, I'd be a happy camper. (Relatively speaking, while the world is crumbling around us...)