The Democrats' (and Media's) Obama Problem
The Democratic Party and the mainstream media joined to run interference for Barack Obama when he became a national figure. Obama was painted as a charismatic, competent, new kind of politician. The passage of time destroyed this image. Now, the public increasingly sees Obama as incompetent, untrustworthy and unmotivated.
Supporters are now in an awkward position. Do they continue to support what is increasingly seen as an inept president or do they turn against him?
Continuing the subterfuge is dangerous. Lending credibility to an incredible man is a certain way to destroy one’s own validity. Obama, once considered a savior and asset for Democrats, is now a serious liability. Defense of the indefensible was possible and advantageous when the public was unaware of the character and competence of Obama. His failed policies are now obvious, known by too many. If there were ever a "familiarity-breeds-contempt" president, President Obama surely is it.
A Decision Must Be Made
The decision to support or abandon a failed presidency is an easy one in an ideal world -- the political class and the media should do what is in the best interest of the country. In Obama's case that would mean wholesale abandonment by both groups. However, such a world doesn’t exist. Honor, integrity and considerations for the greater good are trumped by politics. Political agendas dominate and will ultimately determine how Barack Obama is treated by his once-fawning supporters.
Consensus does not exist with regard to the Obama problem. Democrat politicians and media supporters are convenient classifications, but they are not homogeneous groups. Individuals within these groups will make their own decisions. Unique circumstances will dictate how these individuals choose. Some are running for re-election, others are not. Some are in Red States and others Blue. The media has similar fragmentation of interests with respect to the Obama problem.
The calculus that guides Obama supporters will be determined by self-interest. It guides every vote and position taken by the political class. Crassly and figuratively, each individual will ponder this question: "Is Obama worth more to me dead or alive?" That is, am I individually better off supporting or abandoning him?
The titular head of the Democratic Party and the President of the United States has created such an obvious mess that cutting him loose may be the best option. How individuals in politics and journalism decide this question may very well determine the viability of their individual future success. Deciding incorrectly could truncate or even terminate careers.
Democrat politicians and media supporters must make a choice and choosing incorrectly may be fatal. The president has obviously failed and increasingly is viewed around the world as a laughingstock. I suspect that many will choose to stop defending the indefensible.
In my book Flim Flam Man I speculated on how this decision would have to be faced and how it would affect the media and the Democratic Party. Six months ago it was not hard to predict a continuing decline in Obama's support and popularity. However what is happening now appears to be a complete and total collapse. For someone looking objectively at Obama's performance, this outcome should not be surprising. The list of disasters is long -- ObamaCare, millions of more dependents, a failed economy, a senseless immigration policy (save political considerations), blatant lying to the American public, a non-existent foreign policy, the Middle East a disaster, Putin openly humiliating him, flaunting the Constitution, and now a prime time presidential speech last night to ask for billions to fight ISIS, dismissed half a year ago as junior varsity, and arm the Free Syrian Army, dismissed only a month ago as a “fantasy” as potential victors over ISIS.
The biggest disappointment in this evolving condition is the corruption of the Democratic Party and the mainstream media. Have they misjudged the public and tried to defend the indefensible too long? Have they overextended their bluff? The 2014 elections will provide important insight regarding these questions.
The big risk with Obama was that there was no "there" there from the very beginning. Surely the leadership in the media and Democratic Party knew this risk. There was nothing in Obama’s background to suggest that he could handle the job of president. Investing in this inexperienced shallow man was a reflection of the low esteem in which both hold the American public.
Now Obama’s incompetence is apparent to all but the dullest of Americans. Just as the media and Democratic Party acted in their perceived best interests when paving the way for this man, they will likely act in their own self-interest by abandoning him to avoid being dragged down with him.
Both the Democrats and the media should concerned about survival. For many, how they choose will be existential. I suspect many will abandon this sinking ship.
Some Ominous Signs
Concerns regarding the once Wunderkind mount as the elections approach. Here are a few examples:
The Administration and the media have trumpeted the economic recovery despite the fact there has not been one. A dangerous observation within the economics profession has just surfaced. Brad DeLong, respected Keynesian economics professor at University of California at Berkeley, stated the obvious -- there has been no recovery! Furthermore, he actually used the D-word to describe economic circumstances:
By 2011, it was clear – at least to me – that the Great Recession was no longer an accurate moniker. It was time to begin calling this episode “the Lesser Depression.”
DeLong's article was entitled The Greater Depression. For a leading Keynesian (and Democrat sympathizer) to even whisper about Depression is profound. To commit such thoughts to print is blasphemous. Keynesianism economics promised to end wide economic swings. There was never supposed to be another Depression. Yet, Mr. Delong ends his piece leaving few doubts:
When do we admit that it is time to call what is happening by its true name?
Mr. DeLong has not likely had an economic epiphany. He is still a Keynesian and that presents an additional danger for Obama.
The Keynesian religion is stronger than some political Messiah. Those who worship at this economic altar will defend their religion to the end. To successfully argue this conclusion means that the blame for economic outcomes will be directed at the Obama Administration rather than the hokum that passes for Keynesianism. Obama will become their fall-guy.
2. Foreign Policy
Few defend Obama's foreign policy today. Investors Business Daily, no friend of the president's, provided some of the reasons:
This is not high school, and foreign policy should be conducted by adults. The real JV team is running the White House, led by what Ed Lasky in The American Thinker first referred to as "The Being There President," one who likes to play golf when he isn't fund-raising or taking selfies at gatherings of free world leaders.
Yet foreign policy was one of the rationalizations for supporting Obama. He was going to make the world love and respect us. He was not the Cowboy Bush but some Kumbayah alternative that would have us all singing “We are the World.”
3. The New York Times
The New York Times has been the Praetorian Guard for Democrats since Franklin Roosevelt. Articles critical of Obama never appeared when he ran for office. Few appeared during his first term. Now critical articles appear routinely. Maureen Down regularly mocks Obama. (Her Golf Address was clever and devastating.)
Negative articles are not limited to editorials. Here is a portion of a recent article entitled Obama Is Seen as Frustrating His Own Party:
In interviews, nearly two dozen Democratic lawmakers and senior congressional aides suggested that Mr. Obama’s approach has left him with few loyalists to effectively manage the issues erupting abroad and at home and could imperil his efforts to leave a legacy in his final stretch in office.
... what is striking now is the way prominent Democrats’ views of Mr. Obama’s shortcomings are spilling out into public ...
Articles questioning Obama's integrity, intellect, ObamaCare, transparency, executive orders, etc. appear rather regularly. One might believe that Fox News acquired the New York Times given the tone of many of these.
Whether columnists and writers have seen through the man or whether they recognize that too many other people have, is moot. For whatever reasons most seem unwilling to continue to risk their intellectual capital and reputations defending the indefensible. they seem to have decided to stop investing their capital on his behalf.
When you lose the NY Times, who is left? This bulwark of liberalism now seems unwilling to continue to cover for this failed President.
It will be interesting to see this tragedy play out. It is entirely political at this point. Ironically, it is politics that best protects Obama against an impeachment proceeding. Obama defenders have been weakened in any defense, but the unprincipled Republicans would rather gain power than do the right thing.
Power over principles is the modus operandi of both parties.
Monty Pelerin blogs at Monty Pelerin’s World and is regularly amazed at the nonsense that passes for wisdom in today’s world.