Chickens Coming Home to Roost

 

When the Democratic Party nominated Al Gore for the Presidency in 2000, they made what seemed at the time – before the man unveiled himself as a “crazed sex poodle” – a respectable choice. Gore had been a prominent member of the Senate, and he had served for eight years as Vice-President of the United States. Nothing in his background, after he got a grip on himself in the wake of doing military service in Vietnam, suggested that he would go off the deep end – as he did after losing the Presidency.

When, however, that same party nominated John Kerry in 2004, they really did take a flier. His one qualification for office was his performance of military service during the Vietnam War (when George W. Bush was in the reserves), and he had blotted his copybook after the war by playing a prominent role in a radical anti-war group (as the party elders knew perfectly well). He had, to be sure, served three terms in the Senate, but in those eighteen years he had never once even proposed a bill. He was an empty suit unqualified for executive office, and that was obvious. Nominating him for the nation’s highest office was a supremely irresponsible act.

In 2008, the party doubled down on the same irresponsible strategy. This time they nominated Barack Obama. He had two qualifications for that honor. With the help of a teleprompter and a speech writer, he could deliver a speech with some panache, and, as Senator Joe Biden observed in a moment of rare candor, when he described the freshman Senator from Illinois to a reporter from The New York Observer, Barack Obama was “the first mainstream African-American [in American politics] who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

Biden said it all, when he added, “I mean that’s a storybook, man.” What he meant was that Obama’s biography was a narrative that the Democratic Party could use to sell us a bill of goods. They did not care that Obama had never held executive office, that he had never run anything (apart from a campaign), that as a state senator he had mostly voted present, and that – while he had been elected a United States Senator – he had never actually served as a Senator. In fact, Obama made John Kerry look positively presidential. The former had chaired a senatorial subcommittee – on Afghanistan, as it turned out – but, tellingly, he had never even bothered to call a meeting. He had been honored in all sorts of ways in the course of his life, but he had never delivered the goods – not on the Harvard Law Review, not at the University of Chicago Law School, nowhere nohow, notime.

Unfortunately for us as Americans, Barack Obama was nominated at a moment when the Republican Party was in a bad way – thanks in part to an unpopular war ill-defended by those conducting it, to mortgage policies begun under the Clinton administration and continued under George W. Bush, and to the nomination of a man who had made a career out of betraying his own side. It was, moreover, a time when the mainstream media, never impartial, had reached its nadir and covered the campaign in a fashion suggesting that they worked for the Democratic National Committee. Their efforts constituted what one of the contributors to Journolist aptly called “the unofficial campaign.” To this day, thanks to these intrepid reporters, we know very little about Barack Obama – though bits and pieces have come to light.

obamamirror-1.jpgNow the chickens have come home to roost – for all Americans in general and for the adherents of the Democratic Party in particular. As President, Barack Obama has been incompetent. He has led domestically, as he has led in international affairs, “from behind.” He left the stimulus bill to Congress, Obamacare to Congress, and Dodd-Frank to Congress.  Instead of taking the lead himself. He rolled out his teleprompter and gave speech after speech – until the very mention of his name caused television viewers to reach for the remote. The results were predictable, and I have no doubt that someone in the White House warned him of the dangers. But he did not listen. He knew better. Reading speeches written by other people had gotten him this far. It would suffice. He evidently still thinks that speechifying will do the job.

Never does it seem to have crossed Barack Obama’s mind that, if Congress were allowed to write major bills, every Senator and every Congressman who had any swat would write into it a special deal for his supporters. Never did it dawn on him that the President – and no one but the President – represents the national interest. The results were utterly predictable – bills running thousands of pages, which no one had read or could comprehend, and debts extending from here to the moon.

Obama is, as was obvious from his record, a man of legislative temperament – eager to dodge responsibility, always happy to run his mouth in front of a microphone, good at posturing, incapable of rising to the occasion, forever intent on blaming someone else. Consider what he did this year. Along the way, someone persuaded him that he would eventually have to deal with the deficit. To that end, he appointed a commission to make recommendations and stacked it with the usual suspects. The commission then issued its recommendations; he spoke a few words of praise; and then he ignored what they had said and proposed a budget that did absolutely nothing to remedy what was an obvious problem. The budget he proposed was so ridiculous that it was voted down in the Senate 97-0. Not one member of the President’s own party was willing to sign on.

Did he then acknowledge defeat and propose a revised budget? No, he played golf. Then, he played golf again. Then, you guessed it, he dragged out his golf clubs over and over again. When the Republicans in the House took up the challenge and, under the guidance of Paul Ryan, passed a bill that would have righted things somewhat, he threatened a veto and got the Democrats in the Senate to nix it on a party-line vote. As Harry Reid proudly put it, “Cut, Cap, and Balance  is over, done. It’s dead.” With that sentence, he wrote his own political epitaph and that of this President.

And now – as unemployment keeps climbing, when the recovery has stalled, and S&P has lowered the rating on our debt – all that Barack Obama can do is whine and blame someone, anyone, else. We are all paying a considerable price for this. African-Americans, the one group stoutly loyal to this President, are paying the highest price. But everyone has been hurt, and it is going to get worse before it gets better.

It is commonplace – and has been for some time – to compare Barack Obama with Jimmy Carter. That is, I think, to do Jimmy Carter an injustice. The President whom Obama most closely resembles is Herbert Hoover. We have not had a man in the oval office since Hoover who is as hapless as the current incumbent.

What we are going to see in the next few months – and we may see it in the next few weeks – is a thorough-going collapse in confidence in the man. I still think that he will be the Democratic nominee. The reason that no one is running against him for the nomination is twofold: it would cause a civil war within the party, and, if he were not nominated, African-Americans might well revolt and refuse to turn out and vote. But I would also not be surprised were President Obama to decide not to run. We are witnessing, as we did with Carter and as my parents and the grandparents of most of my readers did with Hoover, the collapse of a Presidency.

Think about it. The stock market is crashing; unemployment is growing; and Barack Obama is a man without any sort of plan. Americans wake up when they discover that their President is in over his head. If the Republicans can find a standard-bearer, 2012 will be their 1932.

In the meantime, were I in John Boehner’s boots, I would put Cut, Cap, and Balance up again in the House for a vote. This time Barack Obama and Harry Reid might in desperation seize on it with both hands.

There are 44 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DavidWilliamson
    Rob Long: This is a brilliant, brilliant strategy, Paul. They should follow your advice tomorrow morning:

    “In the meantime, were I in John Boehner’s boots, I would put Cut, Cap, and Balance up again in the House for a vote. This time Barack Obama and Harry Reid might in desperation seize on it with both hands.”

    That was the only paragraph I disagreed with. Despite the rest of Prof Rahe’s brilliant analysis, it shows that he and Rob don’t yet fully understand Mr Obama and Mr Reid – of course they won’t seize it. The title says it all – I can still hear the Rev Wright…

    There is really no historical precedent for Mr Obama.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Contributor
    @PaulARahe
    Kowaliczko Tom: Professor, I have to agree with Cobalt Blue on Mr. Hoover – he was an accomplished engineer and humanitarian (he actually had a job/career and was very well respected in his field). He saved thousands of lives.

    He fell in to the Progressive trap of trying anything, increasing the uncertainty of the nation’s economic drivers. Obama is much more like Carter or Wilson.

    · Aug 8 at 8:54pm

    You are both right about his previous career. But when the crunch came, he had no idea what to do — and he raised taxes, signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff, and promoted the raising of interest rates. Then, when all of this failed, he sat wringing his hands.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Contributor
    @PaulARahe
    David Williamson

    Rob Long: This is a brilliant, brilliant strategy, Paul. They should follow your advice tomorrow morning:

    “In the meantime, were I in John Boehner’s boots, I would put Cut, Cap, and Balance up again in the House for a vote. This time Barack Obama and Harry Reid might in desperation seize on it with both hands.”

    That was the only paragraph I disagreed with. Despite the rest of Prof Rahe’s brilliant analysis, it shows that he and Rob don’t yet fully understand Mr Obama and Mr Reid – of course they won’t seize it. The title says it all – I can still hear the Rev Wright…

    There is really no historical precedent for Mr Obama. · Aug 9 at 1:51am

    You are probably right. Here is why I contemplate the possibility I outlined. In December, Obama accepted a renewal of the Bush tax cuts. He did so in bad grace, and he did so because his advisors told him that, if he did not and if the economy tanked, he would be toast. The same analysis applies right now.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Inactive
    @WhiskeySam
    Paul A. Rahe

    Kowaliczko Tom: Professor, I have to agree with Cobalt Blue on Mr. Hoover – he was an accomplished engineer and humanitarian (he actually had a job/career and was very well respected in his field). He saved thousands of lives.

    He fell in to the Progressive trap of trying anything, increasing the uncertainty of the nation’s economic drivers. Obama is much more like Carter or Wilson.

    · Aug 8 at 8:54pm

    You are both right about his previous career. But when the crunch came, he had no idea what to do — and he raised taxes, signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff, and promoted the raising of interest rates. Then, when all of this failed, he sat wringing his hands. · Aug 9 at 5:25am

    This brings to mind Coolidge’s quote about Hoover, who served as Coolidge’s Secretary of Commerce, “for six years that man has given me unsolicited advice—all of it bad.”

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @WesternChauvinist
    Capt. Spaulding: Posts like this make Ricochet invaluable. Professor Rahe’s piece is head and shoulders above the main run of editorials in print or pixels. The part about Obama perhaps withdrawing from the 2012 field altogether is tantalizing. Could the Democratic power brokers drop him over the side, thus avoiding an overt internecine bloodbath? · Aug 8 at 10:31pm

    Only if they ran the first black president’s wife. Which is why I’m expecting Biden to be dumped from the ticket to be replaced by Hillary. Obama has no choice but to beg her at this point. If she calculates that running from the VP position in 2016 is her last best chance at the presidency, she’ll say “yes”.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Member
    @WesternChauvinist
    DocJay: Great article! I think Obama is too much the narcissist to give up another run in spite of his disinterest in the job. · Aug 8 at 10:42pm

    Not if he has a bigger, more ego-inflating, position to look forward to… UN Secretary General. King of the World!!

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Contributor
    @PaulARahe
    Western Chauvinist

    Capt. Spaulding: Posts like this make Ricochet invaluable. Professor Rahe’s piece is head and shoulders above the main run of editorials in print or pixels. The part about Obama perhaps withdrawing from the 2012 field altogether is tantalizing. Could the Democratic power brokers drop him over the side, thus avoiding an overt internecine bloodbath? · Aug 8 at 10:31pm

    Only if they ran the first black president’s wife. Which is why I’m expecting Biden to be dumped from the ticket to be replaced by Hillary. Obama has no choice but to beg her at this point. If she calculates that running from the VP position in 2016 is her last best chance at the presidency, she’ll say “yes”. · Aug 9 at 6:14am

    He might well do that. But it would be a humiliation to him no less grievous than signing on to Cut, Cap, and Balance. The next few months will be very interesting.

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @ConservativeEpiscopalian

    I remember last fall on one of my pheasant hunting trips I told my companions, all Republican voters, that Obama would go down as worse than Jimmy Carter. They all scoffed because they couldn’t believe it could ever get that bad again.

    I wonder what they think now?

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CobaltBlue

    Wonderful summary of where we are and how we got here – especially timely on this particular day, as the sense that we have passed a tipping point in the public’s patience with this president is palpable.

    One point I wanted to raise though: “It is commonplace …to compare Barack Obama with Jimmy Carter. … The President whom Obama most closely resembles is Herbert Hoover.”

    Not being a historian, I can’t comment of the haplessness of Hoover’s administration. But his professional life was rich – an accomplished engineer before becoming president, he was active in many humanitarian causes after he left. In other words, he contributed to the betterment of his country and world. Carter, on the other hand, while also an engineer in the Navy, was primarily a political hack with the good fortune to follow Watergate, and promptly failed as President. Afterwards he disgracefully supported dictators around the world and undercut his own country on numerous occasions. Does anyone doubt Obama will base his post-presidency on any other model? After all, for all intents and purposes, he seems to have based his foreign policy on it!

    No – the similarity to Carter is much stronger, all things considered.

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @ctruppi

    I truly hope that a brave White House insider writes an honest, tell-all book after Obama leaves office. It will be fascinating to read about the inner workings of what must be a disfunctional administration. How some of these decisions were made. Who was pulling the levers. The arguments. I hope it happens sooner rather than later.

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Inactive
    @WhiskeySam

    I always breathe a little easier after reading a post by Professor Rahe. I think we are all agreed whether the comparison is Carter or Hoover, this presidency is historically awful.

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Member
    @StuartCreque

    Obama is a modern Golem.

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Member
    @WesternChauvinist

    “He evidently still thinks that speechifying will do the job.”

    I’m not so sure. I think he’s swallowing hard now at the thought that people actually expect results. And I’d put money on a bet that George Soros and other leftist forces are, most uncomfortably, breathing down his neck at the moment.

    “It was, moreover, a time when the mainstream media, never impartial, had reached its nadir and covered the campaign in a fashion suggesting that they worked for the Democratic National Committee.”

    Doesn’t “nadir” suggest there’s been an improvement since then?

    Otherwise, I agree with every word of your most excellent assessment, Professor. Mr. Chauvinist has been predicting Obama’s withdrawal from his re-election campaign for a year now. Obama doesn’t like the job, just the perks, and when it gets this hard, it isn’t worth the headaches. Besides, the position of Secretary General of the UN awaits. A job for which Obama is much better suited. He’d even have a chance on those tax increases for the wealthiest Americans from there.

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Inactive
    @liberaljim

    Boehner had his chance and blew it. Instead of insisting on a vote for CCB in the Senate or that the Senate pass its own bill and send it to the house he abandoned the legislative process and entered in to closed door negotiations with O. Please note we are months into the process and O. still has not been force to put forward a written proposal. Now a 3 month saga will unfold. O has already inserted himself into the closed door super committee’s negotiation process. Look for a Republican on the committee to turn bipartisan and for some massive big government proposal to emerge, that will include more spending and tax hikes and for the GOP to be put into a position of “risking the future of the nation by voting against it”. Anyone who thinks they will see Republicans reversing this mess in 2012 are dreaming. All they have done for the last 20 years is make things worse more slowly. Expect nothing more.

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Editor
    @RobLong

    This is a brilliant, brilliant strategy, Paul. They should follow your advice tomorrow morning:

    “In the meantime, were I in John Boehner’s boots, I would put Cut, Cap, and Balance up again in the House for a vote. This time Barack Obama and Harry Reid might in desperation seize on it with both hands.”

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Unfortunately, I don’t think they would seize on it with both hands– they are too far gone. In their world, I think they truly believe that prosperity comes from the government– or something like that. (As I write it, it looks so ridiculous I can’t even believe anyone would believe it.)

    • #16
  17. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DavidJohn
    Paul A. Rahe

    But I would also not be surprised were President Obama to decide not to run.

    President Obama does not like the job. He thought it would be a celebrity cake-walk….

    • #17
  18. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Kervinlee
    Whiskey Sam: I always breathe a little easier after reading a post by Professor Rahe. I think we are all agreed whether the comparison is Carter or Hoover, this presidency is historically awful. · Aug 8 at 7:22pm

    …and we still have a lot more pain to endure before it’s over, thanks to the incompetence of the man.

    • #18
  19. Profile Photo Member
    @WICon

    Professor, I have to agree with Cobalt Blue on Mr. Hoover – he was an accomplished engineer and humanitarian (he actually had a job/career and was very well respected in his field). He saved thousands of lives.

    He fell in to the Progressive trap of trying anything, increasing the uncertainty of the nation’s economic drivers. Obama is much more like Carter or Wilson.

    I also love the idea of Boehner putting up CCB again. Pass a resolution that the Senate pass a budget (do it every week). Send up the repeal of Obama care. Death by a thousand (budget) cuts!

    • #19
  20. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Kervinlee

    …and we still have a lot more pain to endure before it’s over, thanks to the incompetence of the man.

    I don’t think it’s just one man. It’s the whole ruling class– no, not even just them, but our whole society, or at least a majority. We’ve had a generation of going into debt, on a personal and a governmental level, and it’s now time to suffer the consequences.

    Go to http://generationaldynamics.com and read the free book “Generational Dynamics for Historians.” It will really give you a new way of understanding the current crisis and indeed, the entire span of history.

    Obama has certainly made a bad situation much worse, with all the wrong medicine. But he did come to power during a bad time, and the machinery that caused this crisis was already set into motion since at least the 1960s, and even before.

    • #20
  21. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MelFoil
    ctruppi: I truly hope that a brave White House insider writes an honest, tell-all book after Obama leaves office. It will be fascinating to read about the inner workings of what must be a disfunctional administration. How some of these decisions were made. Who was pulling the levers. The arguments. I hope it happens sooner rather than later. · Aug 8 at 7:18pm

    That would be great. I guess he’d have to be a golfer.

    • #21
  22. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Professor…you need a year-long sabbatical so that you can write nightly analysis pieces here on Ricochet regarding this all-important election! Best thing on the web site.

    • #22
  23. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DocStu

    This needs to get mainstream coverage, it is amazingly insightful and very well and concisely written. I am spreading this as far as I can.

    The sad thing is that many of us knew this before the election, tried to say so and were told that we just disliked Obama because he was black. And defending McCain was impossible. Now I cannot find a candidate to support in the republican primaries and am afraid we will end up with RINO 2.0. What are we to do?

    • #23
  24. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Kervinlee
    Busy System Admin

    Kervinlee

    …and we still have a lot more pain to endure before it’s over, thanks to the incompetence of the man.

    I don’t think it’s just one man. It’s the whole ruling class– no, not even just them, but our whole society, or at least a majority. We’ve had a generation of going into debt, on a personal and a governmental level, and it’s now time to suffer the consequences.

    Go to http://generationaldynamics.com and read the free book “Generational Dynamics for Historians.” It will really give you a new way of understanding the current crisis and indeed, the entire span of history.

    Obama has certainly made a bad situation much worse, with all the wrong medicine. But he did come to power during a bad time, and the machinery that caused this crisis was already set into motion since at least the 1960s, and even before. · Aug 8 at 8:57pm

    Edited on Aug 08 at 08:58 pm

    Yes, I agree. But, we’re in for it, at any rate.

    • #24
  25. Profile Photo Contributor
    @PaulARahe
    liberal jim: Boehner had his chance and blew it. Instead of insisting on a vote for CCB in the Senate or that the Senate pass its own bill and send it to the house he abandoned the legislative process and entered in to closed door negotiations with O. Please note we are months into the process and O. still has not been force to put forward a written proposal. Now a 3 month saga will unfold. O has already inserted himself into the closed door super committee’s negotiation process. Look for a Republican on the committee to turn bipartisan and for some massive big government proposal to emerge, that will include more spending and tax hikes and for the GOP to be put into a position of “risking the future of the nation by voting against it”. Anyone who thinks they will see Republicans reversing this mess in 2012 are dreaming. All they have done for the last 20 years is make things worse more slowly. Expect nothing more. · Aug 9 at 8:11am

    O, you of little faith! Obama still has more leverage than the Republicans. He has the Senate and the Presidency.

    • #25
  26. Profile Photo Contributor
    @PaulARahe

    To do much of anything, the Republicans must win the argument concerning the deficit and the entitlements state and win it decisively. What is going on is an elaborate chess game, and public sentiment is what is at stake. The matter will be settled one way or the other in the 2012 elections — for the Republicans will become hostage to their own rhetoric. As things stand, they are winning the battle for public opinion. The chance you attribute to Boehner he did not possess. So he blew nothing. Now, thanks to the S&P ratings, he may have a shot. But that is not clear. You are right, liberal jim, on one thing. The saga will unfold.

    • #26
  27. Profile Photo Member
    @AaronMiller
    Paul A. Rahe

    liberal jim: Boehner had his chance and blew it.

    O, you of little faith! Obama still has more leverage than the Republicans. He has the Senate and the Presidency.

    And Republicans control the House! That is a position of power, not of weakness. Republicans already had the power to stop government spending dead in its tracks. They refused to use that power.

    Steyn’s book release was timed perfectly.

    • #27
  28. Profile Photo Contributor
    @PaulARahe

    To do much of anything, the Republicans must win the argument concerning the deficit and the entitlements state and win it decisively. What is going on is an elaborate chess game, and public sentiment is what is at stake. The matter will be settled one way or the other in the 2012 elections — for the Republicans will become hostage to their own rhetoric. As things stand, they are winning the battle for public opinion. The chance you attribute to Boehner he did not possess. So he blew nothing. Now, thanks to the S&P ratings, he may have a shot. But that is not clear. You are right, liberal jim, on one thing, however. The saga will unfold. But not just over the next three months. It will not come to a head until the first Tuesday in November, 2012. That is why it is vital that we have a standard-bearer who can articulate our argument.

    • #28
  29. Profile Photo Contributor
    @PaulARahe
    Aaron Miller

    Paul A. Rahe

    liberal jim: Boehner had his chance and blew it.

    O, you of little faith! Obama still has more leverage than the Republicans. He has the Senate and the Presidency.
    And Republicans control the House! That is a position of power, not of weakness. Republicans already had the power to stop government spending dead in its tracks. They refused to use that power.

    Steyn’s book release was timed perfectly. · Aug 9 at 10:15am

    No, Aaron. It is not a position of power. It is a position endowed with some leverage, and they used that leverage to some effect. If you mean that they could have shut down the government by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, yes, technically, they could have. But it is unclear how public sentiment would have responded. Such a maneuver might well have played into Obama’s hands. We are not yet in a position where we can assert unequivocally that the country is with us. Our compatriots are drifting our direction. We must persuade them and bring them along. The election in 2012 will be decisive. We must win and win big — with the right standard-bearer.

    • #29
  30. Profile Photo Member
    @CaptSpaulding

    Posts like this make Ricochet invaluable. Professor Rahe’s piece is head and shoulders above the main run of editorials in print or pixels. The part about Obama perhaps withdrawing from the 2012 field altogether is tantalizing. Could the Democratic power brokers drop him over the side, thus avoiding an overt internecine bloodbath?

    • #30

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