Obama, Bush, Clinton: Secret Agents

I have thought for a while that a case could be made that Obama was really a secret conservative, showing America what would happen if the “progressive” agenda were ever put in place and thereby weaning us off it forever. My friend Noemie Emery, an exceptionally astute observer of American political history, emailed, “All politicians act like secret agents, in the pay of the opposite side.”

As I thought about it, it seemed to me her observation had special applicability to the president, Jeb Bush, and Hillary Clinton, though I’d certainly not rule out a wider field.

Obama

The record is uncontestable; Obama has destroyed his own party for the immediate future. Even the left-leaning Politico concedes this.

[N]o president in modern times has presided over so disastrous a stretch for his party, at almost every level of politics.

[snip]

The party’s record over the past six years has made clear that when Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017 the Democratic Party will have ceded vast sections of the country to Republicans, and will be left with a weak bench of high-level elected officials. It is, in fact, so bleak a record that even if the Democrats hold the White House and retake the Senate in 2016, the party’s wounds will remain deep and enduring, threatening the enactment of anything like a “progressive” agenda across much of the nation and eliminating nearly a decade’s worth of rising stars who might help strengthen the party in elections ahead.

The Iran deal is just the latest of the outrageous acts of a president so enamored of making a place in history for himself that he ignores good sense, public opinion, and the future of his party .

Again, Politico nails it:

The Iran deal has potential, both because of public opinion and the way the administration is positioning itself, to hurt Democrats in much the same way that the Iranian hostage crisis did in 1980 and 1981. Should New York Senator Chuck Schumer succeed in killing the deal, he will be saving the Democrats from what appears to be a grave political mistake.

President Obama has branded opponents of the deal as either ideological extremists or ignorant. In his speech at American University, he compared the agreement’s opponents with Iranian extremists chanting “death to America.” He pointed out that most of those opposed to the Iran deal supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, thus implying that they were warmongers -- conveniently overlooking that his vice president and both of his secretaries of state voted for the war in Iraq.

Listening to the president you would never know that a plurality of Americans, including key parts of the Democratic party’s coalition, are opposed to the nuclear agreement. The Secure America Now (SAN) poll found 45 percent of Americans opposed the deal in July -- up eight points from June -- and that figure rises to 65 percent after respondents hear more details about the agreement. A more recent Fox poll shows that initial opposition has grown to 58 percent.

In both polls, barely 50 percent of Democrats support the agreement and well over one-third oppose. A critical group of Democratic voters -- African Americans -- is split on the issue, while Hispanics are overwhelmingly opposed. Making matters worse, a solid majority of women and younger voters oppose the agreement too.

Rubbing salt in these public opinion wounds, President Obama’s popularity is upside down with 52 percent of Americans rating him unfavorably. By contrast, the public views Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposes the nuclear deal, as favorable by a two-to-one margin.

It’s hardly the first time he sacrificed his party’s long-term interests -- and the country’s -- for his own transformational legacy aspirations, achieving only ephemeral personal victories likely to be quickly undone when he leaves office.

As former Senator Phil Gramm observed in this week’s Wall Street Journal where he noted the Obama transformation was built on  a “foundation of sand”:          

Americans have always found progressivism appealing in the abstract, but they have revolted when they saw the details. President Clinton’s very progressive agenda -- to nationalize health care and use private pensions to promote social goals -- was hardly controversial during the 1992 election. But once the debate turned to the details, Americans quickly understood that his health-care plan would take away their freedom. Even Mr. Clinton’s most reliable allies, the labor unions, rebelled when they understood that under his pension plan their pensions would serve “social goals” instead of maximizing their retirement benefits.

[snip]

The Obama stimulus offered “transparency” in reporting on the projects funded but only after the money had been spent. Similarly the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law defined almost nothing, including the basis for designating “systemically important financial institutions” that would be subject to onerous regulation, what bank “stress tests” tested, what an acceptable “living will” for a financial institution looked like or what the “Volcker rule” required.

[snip]

The Obama transformation was achieved by laws granting unparalleled discretionary power to the executive branch -- but where the law gave no discretion Mr. Obama refused to abide by the law. Whether the law mandated action, such as income verification for ObamaCare, or inaction, such as immigration reform without congressional support, Mr. Obama willfully overrode the law. Stretching executive powers beyond their historic limits, he claimed the Federal Communications Commission had authority over the Internet and exerted Environmental Protection Agency control over power plants to reduce carbon emissions.

[snip]

Despite a doubling of the national debt and the most massive monetary expansion since the Civil War, America’s powerhouse economy has withered along with the rule of law.

The means by which Mr. Obama wrought his transformation imperil its ability to stand the test of time. A new president can overturn all of his executive orders. ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank can be largely circumvented using exactly the same discretionary powers Mr. Obama used to implement them in the first place. Republicans, who never supported his program, are now united in their commitment to repeal it.

Jeb Bush

High on the list of my own impressions of the things driving public opinion at the moment is the anger at unrestrained illegal immigration and the elite (largely old-timey globalist) political class’s failure to acknowledge the legitimacy of the demand for a return to the days of protecting national sovereignty and American exceptionalism. Peggy Noonan captured this ire when she quoted a Latino immigrant:

“We don’t bloc vote anymore.” The idea of a “Latin vote” is “disparate,” which he said generally translates as nonsense, but which he means as “bull----.”

He finished, on the subject of Jorge Ramos: “The elite have different notions from the grass-roots working people.”

OK. Old style: Jorge Ramos speaks for Hispanic America. New style: Jorge Ramos speaks for Jorge Ramos. Old style: If I’ve lost Walter Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America. New style: How touching that an American president once thought if you lost a newsman you’d lost a country.

The Jorge Ramos incident to which Noonan refers exemplifies the divide. Ramos’ blue eyes and light skin tag him as a member of the European-origin Mexicans who corruptly rule that country. Yet he attacks the infinitely more socially fluid U.S. for its occasional “racist and xenophobic tendencies”. He asserts proudly that he votes in elections in both countries. (Translation of Ramos’ world view: He’d like to see the U.S. flooded with the dregs of his native country so he and Democrat elites could rule it without a vibrant middle class as they do Mexico.)

Ramos is employed by Univision, whose owner Haim Saban is a big Clinton contributor, Mrs. Saban is a big Hillary supporter. Jorge’s daughter works for Hillary Clinton. He is most certainly a Clinton operative in newsman’s drag.

This week, he hogged the microphone at a Trump rally, and refused to stop talking though he’d not yet been called upon. Trump refused to bow to this aggression and had him tossed out. (Later he allowed him back in and allowed him to participate on the same terms -- wait until you’re called upon -- as anyone else.)

Jeb Bush, flailing about in GOP elite land, backed Ramos and expressed surprise at media support of the Trump pushback against Ramos. 

This is of a piece with Bush’s tin ear on the immigration issue and hurts him with the many voters who -- regardless of their position on this issue -- feel (correctly in my view) that the press is but an arm of the opposition and that to deal with the relentless aggression of the media leftists we need candidates who’ll push back hard against them.

Richard Fernandez captures this desperate need for someone who’ll fight back as he reviewed the Ramos incident: 

The real news was not in the words exchanged, but in the picture of Jorge Ramos being escorted out. It was not even borne by that picture, but embedded the emotional calculus of the act. Everyone who thinks Obama was an Alinsky disciple should watch Trump in action. He understands the Alinsky principle that public events are not about bandying words. They are about creating opportunities for transgressing certain emotional boundaries. It’s about “empowering the powerless”.

[snip]

The chief aim of an agitator is to get people across an emotional Rubicon. By contrast men like Rubio and Cruz might give you many convincing arguments for wading across that river and describe in detail what they will do when the hour strikes. But they never cross the Rubicon. Only when someone actually does and picnics on the other side brandishing a chicken drumstick is the barrier is broken.

The feeling of empowerment is very potent; but like every powerful thing, you have to be careful with it. People will follow you in the intoxication of the moment. One must lead them well, because in that moment, they will follow you anywhere. Dan Daly, one of only 19 men who won the Medal of Honor twice understood the power of that rush.  One didn’t intellectually convince people to attack the German lines. One led them -- a wholly different thing.

Jeb just doesn’t get it. He looks like he’d be another pushover for people like Ramos.

Hillary Clinton

The chief downside for Hillary is that she’s a liar. A big liar. A lifetime liar. And the voters know it. Her mishandling of classified information on her email servers and persistent lies about that along with the revelations that she’s under serious criminal investigation by a special branch of the FBI which handles such things, adds to public distaste for her candidacy.

Let’s take her stance on immigration, which proves that her only principle is advancing her personal interests.

This year she says she’ll expand anti-deportation policies: “Hillary Clinton vowed on Tuesday that she would not only support immigration reform and protect deportation relief policies put forward by President Barack Obama. If elected president next year, she would expand them.

‘If Congress continues to refuse to act, as president I would do everything possible under the law to go even further,’ the 2016 Democratic candidate said at an event with young undocumented immigrants.”

Last year and the years before she said the opposite. In 2007 she voted for an amendment pushed by big labor to sunset a guest worker program which killed a comprehensive immigration reform bill under consideration. In 2014 she told CNN that the illegal alien children crossing the border "should be sent back."

In 2003 her stance against illegal immigrants was stronger yet:

“I am adamantly against illegal immigrants,” then-Sen. Clinton said on the John Grambling radio show in Feb. 2003.

“Certainly we’ve got to do more at our borders,” she said, adding that, “people have to stop employing illegal immigrants.”

[snip]

“Come up to Westchester, go to Suffolk and Nassau counties,” Clinton continued. “Stand in the street corners in Brooklyn or the Bronx. You’re going to see loads of people waiting to get picked up to get yard work, and construction work, and domestic work.”

She repeated this strong anti-illegal immigration stance in 2006:

In 2006, she told the New York Daily News that while she favored a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, she also wanted to build a fence in some areas along the southern border.

“A country that cannot control its borders is failing at one of its fundamental obligations,” she told the New York Daily News in April 2006.

“There is technology that would be in the fence that could spot people coming from 250 or 300 yards away and signal patrol agents who could respond,” she continued, while suggesting that the U.S. could model its fence after the one protecting Israel.

It is obvious which ads by the opposition will surely air -- Hillary’s views on immigration shift with the polls. When labor wants a strong anti-immigrant position she takes it, when the polls suggest she’s lost the working class male vote and might pick up more Hispanic votes she’s for open borders.

But the Democrats are in a desperate situation. They’ve so battered any moderates in their ranks that there seems to be no likely alternative to her, despite her rapid fall in public sentiment,

I have a suggestion: If the Democrats want someone who supports open borders, there’s one person who consistently has been for them -- Jeb Bush -- and I bet that everyone not part of the GOP establishment would be happy to see him step into Hillary’s worn-down heels.

I have thought for a while that a case could be made that Obama was really a secret conservative, showing America what would happen if the “progressive” agenda were ever put in place and thereby weaning us off it forever. My friend Noemie Emery, an exceptionally astute observer of American political history, emailed, “All politicians act like secret agents, in the pay of the opposite side.”

As I thought about it, it seemed to me her observation had special applicability to the president, Jeb Bush, and Hillary Clinton, though I’d certainly not rule out a wider field.

Obama

The record is uncontestable; Obama has destroyed his own party for the immediate future. Even the left-leaning Politico concedes this.

[N]o president in modern times has presided over so disastrous a stretch for his party, at almost every level of politics.

[snip]

The party’s record over the past six years has made clear that when Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017 the Democratic Party will have ceded vast sections of the country to Republicans, and will be left with a weak bench of high-level elected officials. It is, in fact, so bleak a record that even if the Democrats hold the White House and retake the Senate in 2016, the party’s wounds will remain deep and enduring, threatening the enactment of anything like a “progressive” agenda across much of the nation and eliminating nearly a decade’s worth of rising stars who might help strengthen the party in elections ahead.

The Iran deal is just the latest of the outrageous acts of a president so enamored of making a place in history for himself that he ignores good sense, public opinion, and the future of his party .

Again, Politico nails it:

The Iran deal has potential, both because of public opinion and the way the administration is positioning itself, to hurt Democrats in much the same way that the Iranian hostage crisis did in 1980 and 1981. Should New York Senator Chuck Schumer succeed in killing the deal, he will be saving the Democrats from what appears to be a grave political mistake.

President Obama has branded opponents of the deal as either ideological extremists or ignorant. In his speech at American University, he compared the agreement’s opponents with Iranian extremists chanting “death to America.” He pointed out that most of those opposed to the Iran deal supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, thus implying that they were warmongers -- conveniently overlooking that his vice president and both of his secretaries of state voted for the war in Iraq.

Listening to the president you would never know that a plurality of Americans, including key parts of the Democratic party’s coalition, are opposed to the nuclear agreement. The Secure America Now (SAN) poll found 45 percent of Americans opposed the deal in July -- up eight points from June -- and that figure rises to 65 percent after respondents hear more details about the agreement. A more recent Fox poll shows that initial opposition has grown to 58 percent.

In both polls, barely 50 percent of Democrats support the agreement and well over one-third oppose. A critical group of Democratic voters -- African Americans -- is split on the issue, while Hispanics are overwhelmingly opposed. Making matters worse, a solid majority of women and younger voters oppose the agreement too.

Rubbing salt in these public opinion wounds, President Obama’s popularity is upside down with 52 percent of Americans rating him unfavorably. By contrast, the public views Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposes the nuclear deal, as favorable by a two-to-one margin.

It’s hardly the first time he sacrificed his party’s long-term interests -- and the country’s -- for his own transformational legacy aspirations, achieving only ephemeral personal victories likely to be quickly undone when he leaves office.

As former Senator Phil Gramm observed in this week’s Wall Street Journal where he noted the Obama transformation was built on  a “foundation of sand”:          

Americans have always found progressivism appealing in the abstract, but they have revolted when they saw the details. President Clinton’s very progressive agenda -- to nationalize health care and use private pensions to promote social goals -- was hardly controversial during the 1992 election. But once the debate turned to the details, Americans quickly understood that his health-care plan would take away their freedom. Even Mr. Clinton’s most reliable allies, the labor unions, rebelled when they understood that under his pension plan their pensions would serve “social goals” instead of maximizing their retirement benefits.

[snip]

The Obama stimulus offered “transparency” in reporting on the projects funded but only after the money had been spent. Similarly the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law defined almost nothing, including the basis for designating “systemically important financial institutions” that would be subject to onerous regulation, what bank “stress tests” tested, what an acceptable “living will” for a financial institution looked like or what the “Volcker rule” required.

[snip]

The Obama transformation was achieved by laws granting unparalleled discretionary power to the executive branch -- but where the law gave no discretion Mr. Obama refused to abide by the law. Whether the law mandated action, such as income verification for ObamaCare, or inaction, such as immigration reform without congressional support, Mr. Obama willfully overrode the law. Stretching executive powers beyond their historic limits, he claimed the Federal Communications Commission had authority over the Internet and exerted Environmental Protection Agency control over power plants to reduce carbon emissions.

[snip]

Despite a doubling of the national debt and the most massive monetary expansion since the Civil War, America’s powerhouse economy has withered along with the rule of law.

The means by which Mr. Obama wrought his transformation imperil its ability to stand the test of time. A new president can overturn all of his executive orders. ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank can be largely circumvented using exactly the same discretionary powers Mr. Obama used to implement them in the first place. Republicans, who never supported his program, are now united in their commitment to repeal it.

Jeb Bush

High on the list of my own impressions of the things driving public opinion at the moment is the anger at unrestrained illegal immigration and the elite (largely old-timey globalist) political class’s failure to acknowledge the legitimacy of the demand for a return to the days of protecting national sovereignty and American exceptionalism. Peggy Noonan captured this ire when she quoted a Latino immigrant:

“We don’t bloc vote anymore.” The idea of a “Latin vote” is “disparate,” which he said generally translates as nonsense, but which he means as “bull----.”

He finished, on the subject of Jorge Ramos: “The elite have different notions from the grass-roots working people.”

OK. Old style: Jorge Ramos speaks for Hispanic America. New style: Jorge Ramos speaks for Jorge Ramos. Old style: If I’ve lost Walter Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America. New style: How touching that an American president once thought if you lost a newsman you’d lost a country.

The Jorge Ramos incident to which Noonan refers exemplifies the divide. Ramos’ blue eyes and light skin tag him as a member of the European-origin Mexicans who corruptly rule that country. Yet he attacks the infinitely more socially fluid U.S. for its occasional “racist and xenophobic tendencies”. He asserts proudly that he votes in elections in both countries. (Translation of Ramos’ world view: He’d like to see the U.S. flooded with the dregs of his native country so he and Democrat elites could rule it without a vibrant middle class as they do Mexico.)

Ramos is employed by Univision, whose owner Haim Saban is a big Clinton contributor, Mrs. Saban is a big Hillary supporter. Jorge’s daughter works for Hillary Clinton. He is most certainly a Clinton operative in newsman’s drag.

This week, he hogged the microphone at a Trump rally, and refused to stop talking though he’d not yet been called upon. Trump refused to bow to this aggression and had him tossed out. (Later he allowed him back in and allowed him to participate on the same terms -- wait until you’re called upon -- as anyone else.)

Jeb Bush, flailing about in GOP elite land, backed Ramos and expressed surprise at media support of the Trump pushback against Ramos. 

This is of a piece with Bush’s tin ear on the immigration issue and hurts him with the many voters who -- regardless of their position on this issue -- feel (correctly in my view) that the press is but an arm of the opposition and that to deal with the relentless aggression of the media leftists we need candidates who’ll push back hard against them.

Richard Fernandez captures this desperate need for someone who’ll fight back as he reviewed the Ramos incident: 

The real news was not in the words exchanged, but in the picture of Jorge Ramos being escorted out. It was not even borne by that picture, but embedded the emotional calculus of the act. Everyone who thinks Obama was an Alinsky disciple should watch Trump in action. He understands the Alinsky principle that public events are not about bandying words. They are about creating opportunities for transgressing certain emotional boundaries. It’s about “empowering the powerless”.

[snip]

The chief aim of an agitator is to get people across an emotional Rubicon. By contrast men like Rubio and Cruz might give you many convincing arguments for wading across that river and describe in detail what they will do when the hour strikes. But they never cross the Rubicon. Only when someone actually does and picnics on the other side brandishing a chicken drumstick is the barrier is broken.

The feeling of empowerment is very potent; but like every powerful thing, you have to be careful with it. People will follow you in the intoxication of the moment. One must lead them well, because in that moment, they will follow you anywhere. Dan Daly, one of only 19 men who won the Medal of Honor twice understood the power of that rush.  One didn’t intellectually convince people to attack the German lines. One led them -- a wholly different thing.

Jeb just doesn’t get it. He looks like he’d be another pushover for people like Ramos.

Hillary Clinton

The chief downside for Hillary is that she’s a liar. A big liar. A lifetime liar. And the voters know it. Her mishandling of classified information on her email servers and persistent lies about that along with the revelations that she’s under serious criminal investigation by a special branch of the FBI which handles such things, adds to public distaste for her candidacy.

Let’s take her stance on immigration, which proves that her only principle is advancing her personal interests.

This year she says she’ll expand anti-deportation policies: “Hillary Clinton vowed on Tuesday that she would not only support immigration reform and protect deportation relief policies put forward by President Barack Obama. If elected president next year, she would expand them.

‘If Congress continues to refuse to act, as president I would do everything possible under the law to go even further,’ the 2016 Democratic candidate said at an event with young undocumented immigrants.”

Last year and the years before she said the opposite. In 2007 she voted for an amendment pushed by big labor to sunset a guest worker program which killed a comprehensive immigration reform bill under consideration. In 2014 she told CNN that the illegal alien children crossing the border "should be sent back."

In 2003 her stance against illegal immigrants was stronger yet:

“I am adamantly against illegal immigrants,” then-Sen. Clinton said on the John Grambling radio show in Feb. 2003.

“Certainly we’ve got to do more at our borders,” she said, adding that, “people have to stop employing illegal immigrants.”

[snip]

“Come up to Westchester, go to Suffolk and Nassau counties,” Clinton continued. “Stand in the street corners in Brooklyn or the Bronx. You’re going to see loads of people waiting to get picked up to get yard work, and construction work, and domestic work.”

She repeated this strong anti-illegal immigration stance in 2006:

In 2006, she told the New York Daily News that while she favored a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, she also wanted to build a fence in some areas along the southern border.

“A country that cannot control its borders is failing at one of its fundamental obligations,” she told the New York Daily News in April 2006.

“There is technology that would be in the fence that could spot people coming from 250 or 300 yards away and signal patrol agents who could respond,” she continued, while suggesting that the U.S. could model its fence after the one protecting Israel.

It is obvious which ads by the opposition will surely air -- Hillary’s views on immigration shift with the polls. When labor wants a strong anti-immigrant position she takes it, when the polls suggest she’s lost the working class male vote and might pick up more Hispanic votes she’s for open borders.

But the Democrats are in a desperate situation. They’ve so battered any moderates in their ranks that there seems to be no likely alternative to her, despite her rapid fall in public sentiment,

I have a suggestion: If the Democrats want someone who supports open borders, there’s one person who consistently has been for them -- Jeb Bush -- and I bet that everyone not part of the GOP establishment would be happy to see him step into Hillary’s worn-down heels.