November 6, 2008
Opportunities of an Obama PresidencyBy Dave Smithee
The cyclical nature of human wisdom is well documented in both secular histories, and the biblical record. Blessing, Discontent, Rebellion, Suffering, Penitence, Restoration. Wash, rinse, repeat. As ancient Israel whined to have monarchs rule over them to be like their pagan neighbors, so too are American leftists smitten with the illusory sophistication of the crumbling European economic and social models. They salivate for the esteem of tyrants, socialists, and every manner of grandiose failure; the more extravagant, the better so long as the mission statement is sufficiently lofty. It's said that liberals are like any other people; only more so. In this case, it's their turn to perpetuate the ancient cycle of rejecting what works, turning their backs with disdain on America's incomparable blessings and crying "Give us what they have!"
Well, we've gotten it.
In a receding economy and aided by a political monopoly, President Obama is going to prove unable to resist his fetish for increased taxation and eco-regulatory strangulation. In a dangerous time, his vanity will lead him to grant legitimacy to nations that wish America ill. When an Obama presidency with majorities in the House and Senate ends in economic calamity, emboldened international foes, or both -- as history wearily tells us it must -- then the healing can begin.
This is a true changing of the guard in more ways than one, as it also signals the end of the Moderate. Trashing his own party only served McCain for so long. The Maverick was devoured by his Media base the moment he became inconvenient, and timorous pseudo-conservatives have jumped ship to ensure they remained on the right side of the DC sophistication line. Classical conservatives would be well served to let them flounder.
Yet I admit my own relief, despite the costs we will bear in the short term, that Obama was the victor.
For the Democrats, it was an act of sublime short-term calculation to trot out Obama. A man whose easy, telegenic charm was able to narcotize into irrelevance all the facts that would have rendered him unelectable in anyone else's skin. The sewage of slum lords, communist sympathizers and domestic terrorists swirl about his ankles. And yet a flash of smile and a few words in his soothing baritone captured the American imagination and soothed a majority of the electorate. But now the work is going to start. Results are going to matter, and if there's one fact about Barry that the media was unable to obscure, it's that he is a candidate truly uncluttered by moderation.
He is the proto-Democrat; liberalism's gleaming new flagship. And that's going to be a long-term problem for Democrats in ways they can scarcely now imagine.
Obama's ideological roster ticks off all the requisite good-liberal boxes. Where he differs critically from say, a Hillary Clinton, is that he has done away with all pretense of social justice or fiscal sanity as rationales for positions that Americans have found historically repellant. He is the candidate that everyone now knows values wealth redistribution not because he can fumble his way through contorted reasoning that it "helps the poor." As he revealed when he endorsed raising capital gains taxes despite no benefit to the treasury; he is a redistributionist in the crudest Machiavellian sense. Admitting that redistributing wealth, even to no fruitful end, is just 'fair', and wishing to secure his power by ensuring he's the one handing out alms.
Unlike other Democrats, we know he openly supports abortion and infanticide as a matter of lifestyle convenience, not unlike the decisions one makes while flipping through an Ikea catalogue. Gone is the talk of medical necessity, or the older tradition of draping abortion in obfuscating language pulled from the left's ‘1001 Things to Call a Civil Right' playbook. In defending his infanticide vote by insisting that women shouldn't be "punished with a child" he's thrown up his hands with a smirk and declared "That's enough of that 'women's rights' kabuki theater. We all know what this is really about."
Obama is not just a Democrat, or a liberal. Obama is liberalism. He is liberalism stripped of all of its false fronts of civic mindedness. Shorn of all its bogus declarations of interest in the public good, or lip service to free markets or property rights. He is liberalism as it exists only in the psyche of the petty tyrant, rarely glimpsed emerging in public. Shrieking, demanding as a newborn, nakedly ravenous for power. Worshipping expedience, debasing of life, and viewing everyone else's wealth as his own, with which he may conduct his vast social experiments on the subdued human landscape.
But as an ideological flagship surrounded by hysterically unrealistic expectations, if he fails, Obama is going to drag the Democrat ship down to truly crushing depths. And when he does, the redemption of the Democrats will not be swift in coming. With Obama, they have bet the ideological farm, and several surrounding properties too. They have damned the torpedoes and abandoned the strategy of advancing themselves in managed increments. By pushing Obama into the spotlight, they're tipping their entire ideological hand a good twenty years ahead of schedule.
It's difficult to tell how much utterly unchecked leftism America will be willing to endure, or for how long. But one thing for certain is that Obama, in tandem with Pelosi/Reid is the greatest gift the Republicans and conservatives everywhere could have been given. Over the next four years, there will be no political 'moderation' in Obama to muddy the waters, confuse his identity, or cast doubts about who's to blame for what.
It's an odd (and maddening) trait of elected conservatives that they come alive almost exclusively in the face of opposition. They define themselves most persuasively when juxtaposed against runaway state largesse, oppressive economic conditions, or the sheer buckling incompetence of Carter-esque liberalism. Conversely, as they were and would have been with McCain, they're on their weakest footing when squandering intellectual resources and goodwill in the defense of ideologically compromised leadership. And now they've been blessed with an undiluted, unambiguously radical leftist with which they have four years to contrast themselves and make their case.
Disappointed as some will be, Obama's win is not surprising in the present climate. Sadly, Cavuto had it right on McCain's lack of economic conviction. With one hand committed to vague free-marketisms and the other dealing out murky condemnations of 'Wall Street greed', he was unable to deliver a coherent counter-punch that addressed the Democrat-driven interventions that birthed the subprime crisis.
In a painful campaign video from Wisconsin, a famously enraged voter declares "I'm mad!" about the "socialists taking over the country". The audience was in a fervor over the gentleman's comments and salivating for partisan red meat. McCain promptly deflated the crowd by stammering that he would again 'reach across the aisle' and work with everyone to fix the problem. The silent groan of agony that settled on the leadership-starved crowd was palpable. Obama by comparison, was consistent and on message with his serial deceptions and class warfare; but at least he was consistent and on message.
Most painful of all was watching Palin, shackled to McCain's policies like Princess Leia to Jabba the Hutt. Squirming her way through explanations her heart clearly wasn't in, needing to toe the line of McCain's nebulous free-market-populism. It was doubly frustrating to conservatives who knew that Palin understood the root of the problem, and could have eviscerated the Democrats on it handily had she been taken off her chain. Despite the media's crowing about the wickedly energizing Palin being a 'drag on the ticket', the race would have been over long ago without her; she truly represents the future of the party. Like Obama, she is sharp, determined, decisively partisan, with a governing philosophy definable in clear, easily marketed and communicated strokes.
An Obama presidency will certainly mean short-term pain. America is about to learn some very hard lessons, but she will learn them, and conservatives have been handed an unprecedented opportunity to define themselves, regroup, sharpen their ideological knives and come out swinging. And as a character from Lewis's Narnia observed after breaking a demagogue's oratory hypnosis by forcing himself to step on hot coals, "Pain is very good at dispelling certain kinds of magic."