Obama's First Real Election
Barack Obama is an odd bird in American presidential politics. Not because he's black, but because he is so far out of the norm that he doesn't instinctively follow all the standard moves. American politicians have a certain standard set of rituals, just as American baseball players do. A Russian shot-putter who switched to baseball would just look different.
The examples of Obama's subtle oddities are many. The biggest ones are his deep, public bows to foreign potentates, an act that alienates him from more than two centuries of American public behavior. Those showy bows were not accidental. They were planned, and they reflect his frothing resentment against this country. This is the "Up Yours, America!" administration. The Roman emperor Caligula once appointed his horse to the high position of consul, to show his contempt for the Roman Senate. In the long history of human politics, symbolic acts of contempt are a dime a dozen. Rebellious kids do them all the time.
Ann Coulter points out that Obama hasn't won many contested elections: most of the time, his opponents drop out after some private scandal suddenly blows up in public. If Emil Jones, the Godfather of Illinois politics, is backing you, then yes, officially sealed divorce papers do have a tendency to get unsealed at a crucial point in a campaign. If you're married to the daughter of a Chicago ward boss, then you probably get miraculous Acts of God helping your path to power. And if you're the racial messiah running against Hillary Clinton, then yes, the lockstep left can decide in the middle of the primary campaign that Bill and Hillary are racists after all these years. It's like magic. No wonder Illinois' favorite son came to national politics feeling like a god.
In Obama's political career I can find only one competitive election -- namely, 2008...and that one was ferociously stacked by a unanimous media that hated George W. Bush with pathological hatred while idolizing the black messiah who was going to save America from its never-ending guilt about slavery (ended in 1865) and Jim Crow (ended in the 1960s).
The election of 2008 may have been "historic," but it wasn't a contest. The outcome was as sure as a 90% hard-left political machine could make it. Abe Lincoln come back from the dead wouldn't have won against Obama in 2008, because he'd be tarred and feathered as a white racist.
Which makes 2012 the first contested election Obama has ever seen.
Think about that. We've seen stacked elections before -- when a Kennedy runs in Boston, or when Robert Byrd did in West Virginia. But most politicians have to endure the anxieties of not really knowing the results until election night. Most national politicians have felt the agony of defeat and the mud-slogging pace of trying for a comeback.
Not Barack Hussein Obama, that child of fortune.
When Obama told small business people that "you didn't build that," he might have been talking about himself. He had all those roads built for him and all his paths smoothed by powerful friends.
I've never seen an administration like this one. They are unique, and not in a way that inspires confidence. From the styrofoam Greek columns to Air Force One buzzing Lady Liberty, from the infamous bows to King Abdullah to the sneering public contempt shown to Benjamin Netanyahu and Hosni Mubarak, both heads of sovereign states -- from the perverse energy decisions about coal, oil, and solar to the bank bailouts for favored Wall Street firms -- from the tax-cheating nominee for SecTreasury to that bloody gun-running for the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico -- from the mad idea of an "Arab Spring" to the triumph of radical Islam in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and now maybe Syria -- this administration goes straight from starry-eyed arrogance to bloody disaster. Not to mention their fixed idea of priming the pump of the economy with bigger and bigger and bigger debt, now rising to 17 trillion dollars. It's like those 18th-century doctors who used bleeding for everything. Is the patient getting sicker? Well, better open another vein!
When do you start to think, this is really, really weird.
And now the first national election to consist completely of trash-talking the other side. If we believe Obama and his finger-puppets, Mitt Romney is a felon, a tax-cheat, a man who makes war on women, who is driven by hatred of gays and lesbians, and who wants to kill off Medicare. What an election platform.
In a normal country, that kind of over-the-top abuse would mean political suicide. I don't know if we still are a normal country, and I don't doubt that David Axelrod and his minions are constantly taking the voters' pulse to see if they can win by verbal thuggery.
But the obvious explanation is that Obama's team just isn't used to politics like this. They don't have any experience of elections where the other side has a real chance of winning.
It's not the Chicago Way.
What we're seeing is not really political strategy. We're seeing rage and anger leaking out. Politicians love to curse: LBJ did it, and Hillary, and Joe Biden does it even when he's sober. But there's always a watertight barrier to keep the public out.
Obama's campaign has lost that kind of self-control. I've never seen it before.