October 2, 2010
The Car Key Analogy: Another Obama ClunkerBy C. Edmund Wright
The Obama administration has lately been using a clunker of a talking point: the idea that it would be foolish for America to "give the keys back" to Republicans, who "got us into this mess in the first place."
Where to start?
Let's start with the direction of the car, which in this analogy is of course the direction of the economy -- or perhaps of the country overall. I think it's safe to say that the car is speeding left. The governing of Obama-Pelosi-Reid has been the most liberal and radical in our nation's history. We have never sped this far and this fast to the left. And it's a disaster.
What Obama is telling us with his little keys analogy, however, is that we have not yet gone far enough left. He wants us to believe that the Promised Land, not a cliff, awaits us if we but go with him farther left.
Moreover, he indicates that giving the keys back to the Republicans would be to head in the opposite direction -- supposedly back to the right -- which is the direction that "got us into this mess in the first place."
Now let's analyze that, starting with that part about "to the right."
With the conservative ascendancy in the Republican Party fueled by the Tea Party's successes, I am somewhat confident that a handing of the keys to Republicans in 2010 would in fact be a turn to the right. Will it be enough? I don't know, but certainly the "Pledge" is a promise to try to turn this baby around.
So as far as that singular point goes -- and without knowing at this time whether the GOP will follow through -- Obama is correct.
However, it is Obama's claim that it would be turning back to the right that is flat-out wrong. Under George W. Bush as president, Dennis Hastert as Speaker of the House, and with luminaries like John McCain and Lindsey Graham in the Senate, the Republicans have been nudging us to the left themselves since at least 2000.
I use 2000 because prior to that, Bill Clinton had a lot to do with the leftward movement.
Ironically, the GOP pushed harder to the right while Clinton was in the White House, which resulted in overall more conservative governance than in the Bush-Hastert-Bill Frist combo. Today, Clinton gets to take credit for that while he campaigns for more of Obama's leftward push.
To be sure, Bush never sped left with the purpose and purity of the Obama administration. And to be fair to Bush, the nation's slippage to the left resulted from a liberal Senate comprising the entire Democrat caucus plus McCain, Graham, Snowe, and Collins. Oh, and let's not forget once-upon-a-time "Republican" Arlen Specter.
Memo to Karl Rove: this is precisely why we did not want Mike Castle in the Senate!
Thankfully, Bush would veer right from time to time and get something good accomplished. The now-popular "Bush Tax Cuts" come to mind, along with the Surge, Chief Justice John Roberts, and no doubt some aggressive counterterrorism measures that will never see the light of publicity.
All of our lives are at least somewhat better today because of all of these actions. The problem is, we elected Bush to govern this way all the time -- and that is not at all what we got.
Whether, as Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer has suggested, it is that he never was a true conservative believer -- or if it was that Rove practiced witchcraft and cast Bush under a "new tone spell" of government by compromise -- doesn't really matter. Bush, Hastert, Rove, McCain, Snowe, Collins, Graham, et al. bought into way too much liberal policy and just way too much government, period.
And while these very Republicans were governing to the left and ignoring the Constitution, the failures wrought by these policies were being blamed fully on conservatism and the free market and on "Republicanism" in general -- whatever that is.
This proposition was seared into voters' minds in 2008 when John McCain -- whose "reach across the aisle" instincts were ironically identical to the "new tone" instincts of the man he hated -- campaigned harder against Bush than against Obama. Nobody in 2008 was standing up for the Constitution or the free market.
No one but Sarah Palin, that is -- until the McCain campaign handlers could get to her and shut her up.
So predictably, Obama and Pelosi and Reid swept into power. With huge majorities -- which can be interpreted as having all the keys -- this liberal express has the nation speeding leftward faster than ever.
And more and more Americans are waking up to the fact that what awaits us is a very tall cliff. The only way to avoid this disaster is to take the keys away from Obama and the Democrats quickly. People now know that the problem is the leftward direction.
In other words, people are waking up to what it was that really got us "into this mess in the first place." And they have decided correctly that the free market and constitutional conservatism and being tough on terror and strong on national defense and being proud of our place in world history is not to blame. Going right is not the problem. Going left is.
And while not enough Americans can point to liberal policies on everything from energy to mortgages to intelligence as the root causes of every major problem we have -- it sure seems as if a majority of Americans are scared of the fast-forward statism of the Democrats and nauseated by slow-motion leftward march of establishment Republicans.
So to be clear, Mr. Obama, we will in fact take the keys away from your party this November. At least one big set of them. And we will give them to a Republican Party that has only started its necessary house-cleaning -- because it's our only option.
And that party had better learn the lessons from history that have inspired the Tea Party movement as well as historic events in New Jersey and Massachusetts. If they have not, the Republican Party is in trouble. That's not so important, though.
What is important is the danger for the entire Republic -- if they don't use these keys to rapidly reverse course.