It doesn't pay to be too exact with predictions. Nostradamus could have told you this -- all six of him, one after the other. The predictions of the Nostradami were set in the form of quatrains so ambiguous as to mean anything. The most famous is the one supposedly referring to the rise of Hitler. It's spelled "Hister," which happens to be an old name for the Danube, and really does read as if something is going on involving a river. But that matters not at all. It's close enough, so it "proves" that Nostradamus foresaw Hitler four centuries previously. If you set it down artfully enough, you just can't lose.
I wish I'd remembered that back in 2008. In late August, I was bold enough, thanks to the fact that McCain had surpassed Obama in virtually all the polls (something that Mac haters tend to forget) to predict that he'd take the election. But events intervened in the form of the financial collapse (triggered in large part by Charles Schumer, another little item that went down the memory hole) and McCain fell behind, never to catch up.
Fortunately, Hugh Downs was around to take the hit. He had an ad selling orthopedic shoes or some damn fool thing that was ubiquitous on AT at the time, designed in such a way that it dominated whatever page it appeared on. So a lot of people made a connection between Downs and my prediction, and many are convinced to this day that he predicted the defeat of Obama, even though Snopes.com features a page debunking the story.
My next prediction in re Obama was more discreet, if not quite in the Nostradamian mode. I made it repeatedly, in a number of columns dealing with the One. I didn't think to put it into quatrains, which I will do next time. With variations, it went like this: Obama will spend the last two years of his term dealing with the problems he creates in his first two years.
A little banal, perhaps? After all, it's true to some extent of any president. All of them have to do some fancy stepping to correct early errors. But here's the thing: all other presidents have had some record of achievement, some accomplishments to ease the sting of the inevitable failures. What I was saying is that Obama would lack anything of the sort. That there would be no accomplishments, in the accepted meaning of the term, for him to fall back on. That he would have nothing but problems, and problems rooted in his own actions.
And behold... I say unto you, has it not come to pass?
Let's take a look at the record.
The Stimulus -
Roots: I am the 21st century FDR. Really...
A magnificent achievement: at last, after nearly a century of abuse and misuse, final and irrefutable proof of the emptiness of the Keynesian full-employment theory. Unfortunately, Obama was trying to prove the exact opposite, and spent $800 billion to do it.
Results: It worked so well he wants to do it again.
Electric cars -
Roots: Environmentalist boondoggle #1.
Hundreds of millions in incentives, subsidies, and tax breaks to prove what the critics knew all along: that go-carts can't compete with the IC engine.
Results: Someday, somebody will come up with a cheap, lightweight battery that will hold a charge good for a couple hundred mile trip. But someday will be too late for Barack Obama.
The Gulf Shutdown -
Roots: Weaning the country from oil addiction, the Obama way.
More O cleverness. Shut down oil drilling in the Gulf for "safety reasons" in the wake of the BP disaster and then -- just don't let it start up again! Nobody will ever figure it out, even after gas hits four bucks a gallon.
Results: Massive unemployment in the Gulf and the aforementioned gas prices.
Roots: The final keystone in the glorious structure of the New Deal.
What was supposed to be his trademark reform, the program that was to make him into an FDR for the 21st century, has turned into a running sore, a constant headache and source of anxiety, with several adverse court decisions leading up to the inevitable Supreme Court date.
Results: A progressive breakdown of the national health-care system and a sense of disgust affecting every last citizen equally.
Fast and Furious -
Roots: Obama's debt to the anti-handgun crowd.
People are dead. More will die in the days to come. In a more decent world (e.g., the one I grew up in) somebody would break down and talk out of pure shame. Not this bunch.
Results: The scandal that will mark Obama's tenure as firmly as Teapot Dome. Somebody's going to do heavy time.
Roots: O's attempt to fulfill the Green agenda, come hell or high water.
A half a billion loan to a company that the Pythoness of Delphi foresaw would go bust in 600 B.C. And now the chief execs are taking the Fifth. It doesn't get better than this.
Results: Hell and high water.
Light Squared -
Roots: A payoff to two heavyweight 2008 supporters.
Nicely played. A part of the spectrum kept quiet for defense purposes turned over to a big Obama donor on behalf of yet another big Obama donor. Then they try to force the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to back them up on it. It would have worked if Rahm was still on call.
Results: Subpoenas all around. This story will peak just about the time O is trying to get his campaign in gear.
The Tea Parties -
Roots: Barack Obama.
What other president ever got the placid, moderate middle class so riled up as to embark on a mass movement? O always insisted he wanted to get everyone involved. He did. Good for him.
Results: The loss of the House, the upcoming loss of the Senate, and the Oval Office.
We can add another that remains nameless, though related to the several of the above - his general handling of the recession. Recovery from a recession is no mystery. It has been accomplished dozens of times in as many countries. In the U.S., Andrew Mellon created the blueprint in beating the 1920 recession on behalf of Warren Harding by lowering taxes, easing credit, and assuring business of a stable environment. Both Reagan and Bush 43 repeated the feat. But Obama could not leave it at that. It had to be done his way. He yearns for actual secular sainthood, in a way that normal people cannot begin to grasp. This is why he continues interfering, with his stimuli, his jobs bills, his tax proposals. It must have dawned on some of staff -- perhaps even his yes-men economists -- that every time he makes a proposal, it is immediately followed by a slump. People hear him and panic. The best thing to do is keep him quiet by whatever means.
Together these errors planted at the early stages of Obama's term are strangling his administration and rendering it difficult, if not impossible, for his reelection campaign to begin gaining traction. Obama couldn't have done a better job of crippling himself if he'd planned it. And there may yet be more to come. Several other megaton-scale time bombs are even now ticking away. One or more are likely to go off during the upcoming year.
The Auto Bailout - Somehow GM and Chrysler manage to stagger on like Karloff escaped from the tomb, even amid refusals to honor warranties, $5,000 union signing bonuses, and the fact that nobody wants their damned cars. This situation is getting ripe. Watch for some action next spring.
Napolitano - She's nearly gone tilt several times already -- after the attempted underwear bombing where "the system worked," for one example -- but she's managed to slip through every time. It would nice if she were to blow up before O left. Like, say, on November 3, 2012.
Iraq and Afghanistan - And Libya, and Pakistan... The modern liberal method of handling military challenges is to do everything halfway and with great reluctance and then whine that they were right all along when it doesn't work. O has maintained this tradition. It would be a good thing if his successor did not have to pay the price.
Supreme Court Appointments - Even the most avid legacy media outlets have ceased their attempts to promote Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor as millennial female versions of Oliver Wendell Holmes. There is simply no way to make such claims work. While there is no reason to believe that a blowup is imminent, there is something about the current Court situation that really starts the prophetic lobes tingling.
Some of these will not go off on his watch. Some will hold off to plague his successor. But most will continue unwinding over the next few months and on into the year to come, even as O seeks to persuade the voters of his unmatched competence, capability, and foresight, to impress them with his achievements, and thrill them with visions of more to come. As it stands, this would be a difficult trick for a political champion of the stature of a Reagan or a Roosevelt. With Obama, it has the aura of pure futility.
Obama is a man caught in a process, one that will continue to unfold from now until Election Day. He is about to learn that the curve of fate has two sides, that he that goes up the one must go down the other, and it is given to no man to escape the curve once his trip has begun. Like all unworthy claimants to the role of man of destiny, he thought he was immune. He is about to learn otherwise.
That prediction you can take to the bank.