Barack Obama has become a mere figurehead, who gives speeches few listen to any more, issues threats that scare fewer, and makes promises that almost no one believes he will keep. Yet America continues on, despite the fact that the foreign and domestic policies of Barack Obama are unraveling, in a manner unusual even for star-crossed presidential second terms.We've noted, previously, the perennial cycle of disappointment and centralization.
The world’s leaders do not any longer seem much impressed by the president’s cat-like walk down the steps of Air Force One, or the soaring cadences that rechannel hope-and=change themes onto the world scene. They acknowledge that their own publics may like the American president, and especially his equivocation about the traditional role of American power in the world. But otherwise, for the next three years, the world is in a holding pattern, wondering whether there is a president of the United States to reckon with or a mere teleprompted functionary. Certainly, the Obama Nobel Peace Prize is now the stuff of comedy.We are not yet seeing the end of the presidential cargo cult. But ominous signs proliferate.
At home, the signature Affordable Care Act is proving its sternest critics prescient. The mess can best be summed up by Republicans’ being demonized for trying to delay or defund Obamacare — after the president himself chose not to implement elements of his own law — followed immediately by congressional Democrats’ seeking to parrot the Republicans.
Three considerations are keeping the U.S. afloat without an active president. First, many working Americans have tuned the president out and simply go on about their business despite rather than because of this administration. If gas and oil leases have been curtailed on federal lands, there is record production on private land. Farmers are producing huge harvests and receiving historically high prices. Wall Street welcomes in capital that can find no return elsewhere. American universities’ science departments and professional schools still rate among the world’s best. There is as yet no French or Chinese Silicon Valley. In other words, after five years of stagnation, half the public more or less ignores the Obama administration and plods on.This correlation of forces is already crumbling, with the observant and productive people of point one able to entertain the thought that Washington is irrelevant if not an obstacle; the coalition of the aggrieved is about to confront a sequester in food stamps; the press discovering that Affordable Care Act is an oxymoron (and the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the White House press secretary are morons). Now comes Hughey Newsome of Daily Caller suggesting it's time for Our President to downsize his ambitions.
Second, the other half of Americans gladly accept that Obama is an iconic rather than a serious president. Given his emblematic status as the nation’s first African-American president and his efforts to craft a vast coalition of those with supposed grievances against the majority, he will always have a strong base of supporters. With huge increases in federal redistributive support programs, and about half the population not paying federal income taxes, Obama is seen as the protector of the noble deserving, who should receive more from a government to which the ignoble undeserving must give far more. And if it is a question of adding another million or so people to the food-stamp or disability rolls, or ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon or that China does not bully Japan, the former wins every time.
Finally, the media accept that Obama represents a rare confluence of forces that promotes a progressive agenda. His youth, his charisma, his background, his exotic nomenclature, and his “cool” all have allowed a traditionally unpopular leftist ideology to enter the mainstream. Why endanger all that with a focus on Benghazi or the disaster of Obamacare? We have had, in the course of our history, plenty of Grants, McKinleys, Hardings, Nixons, and Clintons, but never quite an administration of scandal so exempt from media scrutiny.
As far as his image goes, it does not really matter to what degree Obama actually “fundamentally transforms America.” For the media, that he seeks to do so, and that he drives conservatives crazy trying, is seen as enough reason to surrender their autonomy and become ancillary to the effort. The media believe that once he is out of office, they can regain their credibility by going after the next president with renewed vigor as recompense.
In other words, the presidency has become a virtual office. Almost half the people and most of the media do not mind, and those who do just plod onward.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt had six people titled with some variation of “assistant to the President.” President Harry Truman had twelve such advisors. President Obama has more than a hundred assistants with this status.It's a reality check for the idiotic cerebral meritocracy. "The tussle, however, is one in which the next step forward in individual autonomy is wresting power from the philosopher kings who supplanted the hereditary kings."
Has Obama simply put these people in charge of America while he goes golfing? Is this why he feels he can say that “we did not know how big the problem was” when it comes to his failed stimulus spending? Is that why he was reportedly unaware of the mismanagement of diplomatic security leading up to the Benghazi disaster? Maybe this is why the IRS became what appears to be a uncontrollable, runaway political weapon under his watch. It now makes more sense how a simple website, which is supposed to be the conduit to his signature health care overhaul, devolved into the late-night TV show punch-line it now is.
The point is simple: the same people that push government as the solver of society’s problems cannot then imply that the task is too big when government fails to solve those problems. Conversely, those of us who argue that government is too big should be vindicated by these recent events.
If President Barack Obama is as great and smart as his supporters say he is, and even he is caught off-guard when actions within his own administration are unknown to him, is that not a clear sign that he is taking on too much?