March 17, 2013
'Reactionary Liberalism' BackfiresBy Clarice Feldman
The Late Great Peter Bocking said of politicians:
This week, we saw two such self-obsessed politicians go one up on Peter's suggestion -- they threw themselves into the bogs.
There was Mayor Bloomberg's comeuppance by the judiciary, which ruled his soda-buying limit was so arbitrary and capricious that it was unconstitutional. That left him muttering idiotically that he hadn't banned large drink purchases but was -- like your grade school cafeteria worker -- merely mandating "portion control".
Then there was the president's Joe Isuzu-like claim that it was not he who ordered White House tours cut, it was someone else -- um, the Secret Service -- but he was trying to rectify their mistake.
As The Hill noted, that petulant act, surely done at his bidding, was backfiring
The White House is playing defense over the decision to cancel tours at President Obama's residence, the latest stumble for Obama in the messaging war with Republicans over the sequester.... So far, polls suggest the administration is not winning the fight. Nearly two weeks after the sequester was triggered, only a small slice of Americans disapprove of the spending cuts, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll out Wednesday. And nearly three quarters of those surveyed said they haven't felt the across-the-board cuts."
Peter Wehner at Commentary looks at the polls and opines that Obama's entire
President Obama's RealClearPolitics.com approval rating is in the 40s. His disapproval rating exceeds his approval rating in three different polls (Fox, McClatchy/Marist, and Quinnipiac). Congressional Democrats are beginning to grouse. And according to a Washington Post story yesterday, Mr. Obama's approval rating at this early stage in his second term is among the lowest of any president in the post-World War II era.... This is clearly not where a president who is less than two months into his second term wants to be. But in some respects, it's not all that surprising. Mr. Obama, while he won his contest with Governor Romney fairly handily, was not a particularly popular president for most of his first term -- and the key elements of his agenda are decidedly unpopular.
Wehner blames it on Obama's sequester overreach, constant manufacturing of crises, and calls for tax increases, and he contends that this dissatisfaction will only grow as the provisions of Obamacare become more widely known:
It hsn't helped the president that the transition period was characterized by a fractious debate with Republicans over the so-called fiscal cliff, followed by an equally fractious debate with Republicans over sequestration. The public appears to be tiring of these Obama-manufactured crises. And polling indicates that they are tiring as well of tax increases, which is at the heart of Obama's economic theory, such as it is. So the president's standing is fairly weak.[Snip] ...I believe that one of the most important political facts of Obama's second term will be the increasing unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act, which is the crowning domestic achievement of the Obama presidency.
It's never been popular, even when it passed -- and it's gotten less popular over time. Moreover, its noxious effects are only now beginning to be felt -- and they'll get worse, not better, as more and more of this monstrously unworkable plan begins to kick in.
My assumption is that by the middle and end of Obama's second term, reactionary liberalism, having been tried, will have failed. Badly. At that point the public will turn its lonely eyes to Republicans. They need to be ready. My guess is they will be.
As my friend jimmyk says of the constant call by Obama and his allies for yet more tax increases even when it's been shown that these taxes hurt, not help, the poor:
Needless to say, those in power seem to do quite well, though.
I think it's the same mindset that opposed the surge in Iraq even knowing that it was a success. Success annoys them. It's a mindset that gives them a clear conscience as they profit from undermining others.
Matthew Continetti, always worth paying attention to, says much the same thing as Wehner. He argues that Obama has lost his momentum by pressing for the confirmation of Chuck Hagel, who acquitted himself poorly in hearings for the job of Secretary of Defense, a position which, in any event, he was poorly suited for, and by his sequester follies:
Clearly the Obama team, in the aftermath of the president's reelection, had a strategy. And the strategy was simple: Press the Republicans on all fronts at once. Use the momentum of the campaign and the fiscal cliff deal to win the controversial nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, and pass gun controls, immigration reform, and additional tax increases on the wealthy. If the problem was Republican intransigence, then follow Donald Rumsfeld's (and Dwight Eisenhower's) advice: "If a problem cannot be solved, enlarge it." Break the Republicans by revealing their stubbornness baldly and unequivocally and globally.
There was no way of knowing whether or not this strategy would succeed. And maybe, in some parallel universe, it did succeed. After all, the Republicans are demoralized. They have their own problems. A swell of presidential and media pressure might have forced them into hasty acquiescence.
Such was the president's bet, anyway. A bet he clearly lost.
Looking back, we can identify two things that seriously eroded the president's position. The first was Hagel. In the weeks prior to Hagel's nomination, few could imagine that 41 Republican senators would end up opposing a former Republican senator for secretary of defense. But the battle over Hagel -- the vetting of his positions on the Middle East, Iran, and the U.S. nuclear deterrent; the revelation of anti-Israel remarks he had made in the past; his horrible performance during his confirmation hearing, which revealed him to be completely unqualified -- rallied Republicans against the president at a critical juncture. It also had the effect, in a body that seems incapable of dealing with more than one controversy at a time, of slowing down the rest of the president's agenda.
Neither Wehner nor Continetti suggest that this is a done deal which cannot change, but if the right is smart they will press their present advantage and keep Obama and his crew bogged down.
When they do so, I sure hope they develop some smarts about new media and how to use it to their advantage.
No better example of how the left uses it can be found at the law blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, where Professor David Bernstein notes that sympathy for Israel in the U.S is at a twenty-two-year high, though you'd never guess that from online comments
One thing that puzzles me is that if you read just about any online piece about Israel, whether from a mainstream newspaper or a blog, the comments sections are filled with anti-Israel invective. Even many pro-Israel blogs attract many anti-Israel commenters (see, e.g., this blog), and liberal pro-Israel blogs are in fact dominated by them. Given the statistics recounted above, I find this an odd situation. Is there any other issue where public opinion leans so far to one side, but on-line comments slant so heavily the other way? Are there really that many people who feel so strongly about the other side (and not any other burning issues in their world) that they devote a fair amount of their time to mostly-unread blog comments? Or is it a small group that basically scours the internet for Israel-related material, and spend basically all their waking hours writing anti-Israel invective?
I'm not suggesting the right hire online trolls, a la the left, but rather that they develop systems that allow them to respond online to obvious lies and factual misstatements instead of standing around while they and their allies are being pelted and online comments polluted with mud flung from the bogs.
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