November 3, 2010
Beastly DelusionBy Joseph Ashby
Daily Beast founder and editor-in-chief Tina Brown recently penned an editorial of post-election advice for President Barack Obama. Like so many liberals in both media and politics, Brown insists that Obama's political troubles are anything but substantive.
Brown cites one frivolity after another to explain what went wrong in Obama's first two years: Obama doesn't use the Lincoln bedroom to woo business leaders, he doesn't support the arts, and trying to change Washington was/is a waste of time. Nowhere in the piece does the successful editor (who nearly took the helm at Newsweek) mention the actual policies that have so soured America on Mr. Obama. Brown's third paragraph tells us why she and many other liberals don't believe it's a problem of substance. Brown writes,
Brown doesn't mention policy as the difficulty because she believes the policies have been not only correct, but successful. An apparent majority of Americans disagree, so let's take Obama's policy "successes" (as outlined by Brown) one at a time.
Those who listen to Obama's forty-minute speeches, twenty-minute town hall answers, or press briefings have a hard time believing that the administration opposes torture. As for our treatment of terrorists, based on Obama's inaction on the issue, it's clear that "torture" was not an endemic national problem, but a political buzzword and campaign tool. If we can credit Obama for ending torture, we must also congratulate him for protecting pots of gold and the end of rainbows and maintaining the unicorn population at pre-industrial levels.
Got Us Out of Iraq
Brown echoes Vice President Joe Biden's claim that Iraq "could be one of the greatest achievements of this administration." Obama, however, did not pursue any new policy or make any noteworthy changes to President Bush's plan. Obama is like a backup quarterback who takes the last few snaps in a blowout victory -- little more than a placeholder.
Extended Health Care
How high must premiums go and how many health plans must dissolve before the left is too embarrassed to make this claim? Obama promised lower premiums, but the law has had the opposite effect. Rates in Connecticut have increased as much as 47% this year alone. The hike is largely due to new federal mandates.
The Democrats claimed that the new law would cover children immediately, but they neglected to include such a provision in the bill and scrambled to fulfill their promise through the bureaucracy.
Obama promised that current health plans would be left alone, but popular mini-med plans have literally been outlawed. The Health and Human Services department quickly denied that the plans would be disrupted, but days later, they were forced to grant waivers to the new law so that mini-med plans could continue (for one year only).
Thus far, the government has helped with Americans' health care only by suspending, changing, or otherwise deviating from the recklessly passed Obamacare.
Prevented Another Great Depression
Officially, the recession began and December of 2007 and ended in June of 2009. The economic downturn was in its final months when Obama was sworn in, and it ended before any major economic policy had time to be implemented. However, almost a year and a half of anemic growth later, it is becoming increasingly clear that Obama's massive federal interventions have pushed investors to the sidelines, restraining recovery.
No matter how severe the political and economic realities, Obama's staunchest supporters remain undeterred. Brown blames marketing for the Democrat midterm meltdown:
The idea that Obama failed to focus on politics is news to anyone with TV or internet access. Obama, for example, was virtually omnipresent during the health care debate. He addressed a congressional joint session, spoke at rallies and town halls across the country, used ABC to broadcast an Obamacare infomercial, and on and on (and on and on...). And who can forget Obama's September 20, 2009 five-show Sunday morning blitz, followed the next day by a full-hour stop at "The Late Show" with David Letterman?
Obama even covered his special interest groups. The AARP, long a leftist political organization which provides insurance and early-bird discounts on the side, got behind the Medicare-slashing bill. Large pharmaceutical companies, with their Faustian Deal, spent tens of millions to push health care. HHS shut down Medicare Advantage providers who tried to warn their customers of the Obamacare's pitfalls.
In short, it isn't about politics, Obama is simply wrong. No amount of talking (and those limits were certainly tested) could change that fact. Brown believes that the facts can change, or at least be masked. This from the column's subtitle: "As soon as Tuesday's drubbing ends, Barack Obama needs to embrace the theatrics of the presidency, however cheesy that may seem to him."
Most conservatives will struggle to suppress a grin at the suggestion that Obama fancies himself above theatrics. Obama's entire public life is a theatrical production (complete with Styrofoam columns). Brown's advice should not be "start pretending" but perhaps "keep pretending, but do it better."
But the truth is that there's no pretending anymore. Too many Americans see greatness slipping from our grasp and are too engaged to be fooled by 2008-style theatrics. Obama's problem is not stylistic, and it is not about covering his political bases, but rather, the problem is that his ideas and policies are foreign to this country and offensive to free people. That is the message of November 2, 2010.
Joseph Ashby is a contributor to Jonah Goldberg's new book Proud to be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation.