April 28, 2011
Obama's Real Strategy
Watching the machinations of Barack Obama, it seems as though he is creating what the Marxists call "internal contradictions."
Gas prices ready to breach the $5 mark, but a relentless Administration campaign against increased domestic energy production; midterm elections soundly rejecting the President and his party's command and control initiatives, but vigorous efforts to extend them in contempt not only of electoral, but legislative and judicial checks; foreign and defense policies that have produced nothing beyond betrayal of our interests and few remaining friends, but an eager embrace of fringe notions of a utopian internationalist order and our place in that order: every day brings new movements in this symphony of dissonance.
Unfortunately, we are not simply enjoying a clarifying dialectic; we are in the middle of a high stakes race. The objective in this race is not a place; it is a date: Election Day, November 6, 2012.
As the contending parties converge on the objective, the Administration understands that the conventional electoral calculus seems irreversible -- gas prices, inflation, unemployment, and geopolitical discomfiture will be joined in 2012 by the newfound fear of deficits and the national debt, and maybe even for the fate of constitutional government. Their response to this looming threat of defeat is a version of the old Cold War communist strategy of "talk talk, fight fight."
The talk element is employed to waste time, obscure tactical maneuvers, divert and divide the opposition, and sometimes even to draw fire onto decoy targets. Behind the screen of the talk is the "fight" or action element of the strategy -- executive, and to the extent still possible, fiscal measures calculated to bring the country by November 6, 2012 to a state in which an electoral majority, comprising both Obama partisans and opponents, is in such a high state of anxiety that they are unwilling to change presidents.
How does this work? First, there is the talk element. Obama and his people are drowning us in a talk tsunami. I am convinced that much of it is, for them, meaningless, meant merely to overload our capacity for outrage and give their house media "issues," ostensibly to debate each evening, but really for generating a constant supply of vehicles through which to diminish the opposition and generally desensitize the country to the enormity of what Obama is doing. The outrage fatigue grows and conservatives scramble to confront the dizzying torrent of talk, talk, with a tone increasingly shrill and desperation -- borne intramural wrangling. The release of the birth certificate, "Something special about the Resurrection," and other peculiar Easter omissions and commissions, the rise and disappearance of the political "civility" issue, keeping alive for months the fantasy of New York City trials for 9/11 conspirators, the great Fatwa against down time naps for drowsy air traffic controllers, UN international legal rights for Mother Earth, endless reprises of canards about the evil effects of conservative talk radio, the Ground Zero Mosque contretemps, TSA groping policy, attacking Arizona's immigration enforcement initiative, embracing Al Sharpton and giving the New Black Panthers a pass, Michelle's "You don't want fries with that!" campaign.
This is not to say some of these do not merit real concern, but Obama and his minions are merely playing with them; the best evidence for which is the airiness of their arguments and the insouciance with which they and their media mouthpieces flit from one to the next. The key here for the opposition -- forget about the talk. It is just talk. Republicans shouldn't play the other guy's game. They have neither the language nor the style, as Speaker Boehner most recently demonstrated when he trod on the oil price banana peel; he should concentrate on the fight fight.
When national Republicans respond to Obama talk talk in their accustomed mush mouthed, tentative, and bloodless way, they generally turn off those they need the most to join them -- including the libertarians and the generally politically inert 25-somethings, for whom irony and not outrage is the preferred tone. But show you can fight, win, and deliver and they will give you a chance. In the end, for all their eloquence, Lady Thatcher, John Paul II, and Ronald Reagan did not outtalk the Soviets; they showed they were prepared to outfight them, and that was enough.
As good as Obama is with talk talk, the fight fight component has thus far has been equally well-executed. Again, fight fight for Obama consists of using his executive power and remaining fiscal armory to create and maintain an atmosphere of pervasive anxiety. The calculation is that fear and anxiety will induce his remaining supporters to stick with him, and that enough of the forty-odd percent who claim to oppose him will pull the Democrat lever as well out of fear -- fear of retribution and fear of losing what shreds they have left of their security as one from the gaggle of lame Republican contenders attempts to reverse the damage Obama has done.
The elderly are the most obvious target. ObamaCare frightened them because of its potential negative impact on Medicare, and this presented a problem for the President. So Obama moved recently to postpone one of the more onerous elements of his health reform until after the election. With that flank secure he is free to focus the Medicare fears of the elderly on the Ryan budget blueprint.
On the union front, the Obama gang fostered maximum thuggery and rancor in Madison, as teachers became screaming harpies and schoolchildren pawns. The line was clearly drawn -- standing between fiscal prudence and public employee vested interests is Obama, so stick with him or else. What about the business community? Obama has assiduously used executive and regulatory power to show that crony capitalism works for his friends like GE, GM, and assorted connected green scam artists, but the retributive hand of his federal Myrmidons can be heavy indeed. One frightened hedge fund magnate recently was reduced to whistling past the graveyard: "I am sure, if we are really nice and stay quiet, everything will be alright and the president will become more centrist and that all his tough talk is just words...I mean, he really loves us and when he beats us, he doesn't mean it." (Notwithstanding, he has apparently begun contributing to Republicans. Now that is hedging.)
Some elements of an ever more pervasive sense of fear and anxiety are more directly attributable to Obama policies than others. Regardless, the parlous state of the nation overall, from what appears to be a fraying social fabric at fast food joints from coast to coast and soaring gold prices, to a feckless foreign policy allegedly necessitated by a reported presidential conviction "that the relative power of the U.S. is declining," reinforces the more directly-attributable fear and anxiety effects of fight fight. Some are scared to oppose, some are scared that with a change they will lose even more, some are scared that the price of saving the economy, our institutions, and restoring our international standing will be too high.
Right now the course of the campaign is being controlled by the Administration. The first step in wresting the initiative is to recognize their strategy.