Friday, December 31, 2010

EPA Über Alles

There has been a long-standing controversy among serious people interested in the Constitution about whether or not the office of the President has become more powerful than the framers of the Constitution originally intended.  This is clearly true about the Supreme Court, the recognized dividing line on that matter being the case of Marbury vs. Madison. The growth of government in the past century has led to a constant expansion in the regulatory powers of the Executive Branch, part of which is the ability of the President to issue decrees that usually stay in place for at least the length of his administration, if not beyond.

A few years ago the brilliant scientists on the Supreme Court decided, against the objections of the Bush Administration, that the EPA has not only the power, but the duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars, and everywhere else. The decision was of course hailed by environmentalists and disdained by many others, and provided yet another good argument for limiting the term lengths of Supreme Court justices.  There was little disagreement on all sides that the EPA would not stop at simply regulating CO2 in cars, that it would seek to expand its power to regulate ever more aspects of American life under a more sympathetic president.

Early on in the Obama administration the EPA made noises that intended to do just that, and fast, but the subsequent negative reaction in the Congress (including Democrats in energy-producing states) and elsewhere made the agency back down temporarily.  At the time, President Obama said he wanted to see this happen, but he would prefer that it be accomplished by the action of Congress.  I think it would be safe to say that Obama doesn't feel much constrained in his actions by any antiquated notions about Congressional superiority that may have been originally intended in the Constitution.  Heading into the third year of his Presidency, Obama is clearly showing that he intends to bring about his agenda with or without the help of Congress, knowing that if the Republicans actually stiffen their spines and grow a pair, this is the only way he will be able to make that happen. The latest shot in this war is the announced intention by the EPA that it will seize control of the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and oil refineries from the state of Texas, after several years of that state's governor refusing to submit to the EPA's demands.

So now the question is, what exactly are the limits on the power of the EPA? It seems to me that the only limit at this point would be for the Congress to deny funding to the agency, short of passing new legislation that explicitly states what the agency can and can't do.  Even if there were court rulings against the EPA expanding its power, the past two years have shown us that the Obama administration feels no obligation at all to submit to federal court decisions--the lastest example being the "net neutrality" rules the FCC has announced, even though a federal court has ruled it has no such authority.  An earlier instance was the Energy Department ban on off-shore oil drilling, again in defiance of another federal court order.

Maybe this is overstating the case, but I have to wonder if we're still citizens in a constitutional republic, or are we now merely subjects in the United States of EPA.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Studio 54 President

In the 1970s, New York's Studio 54 was a nightclub that for a short time was a magical playland for people its owners thought were cool enough to allow into their exclusive den. It became famous as a place where the only rule was that there were no rules, and the only sin was to be boring. There was lots of open drug taking, barely hidden sexual encounters, and people sitting on the laps of perfect strangers.

In a few years the enterprise came crashing down like a disco Hindenburg, a mess of drug-addled mismanagement and law-breaking. After spending a little quality time with seriously uncool people like prosecutors and Treasury agents, the owners went to prison for 13 months. It's easy to think of the Studio 54 scene as more suited to ancient Rome than to the USA.

So now almost 30 years after the demise of the greatest disco that ever was, we've nearly wrapped up the first two years of a presidential administration that we were told early on was going to "change" things. Obama's presidency would be post-racial, post-partisan, transparent, scientific, and just; it would bring Americans together, heal the sick, and stop the seas from rising. The Democratic majorities in Congress vowed to work with the President to forge a new era of tranformative government and an end to corruption.

The fantasyland aspects of Obama's presidency would be amusing if his policies weren't proving to be so destructive. In a time of widespread and persistent unemployment, he has shown an appetite for high living (mostly at taxpayer expense) that is unique among Presidents, and insulting and demoralizing for struggling citizens.  He instructs us to save energy, then takes Air Force One on fuel-burning binges like a crazed Elvis in search of greasy sandwiches he had in some city somewhere that he can't remember. His first two years have seen budget deficits so huge they are barely comprehensible to the human mind; then he tells us his priority for the next two years of his term will be to cut spending. Except this week he says his priority is going to be jobs.  His foreign policy is at best cause for extreme concern, and he appears to think that the clearly growing Islamic terrorist war on the West is a bit of a problem, but nothing to get worked up about.  I could go on, but my teleprompter is stuck.

Since the November elections, Obama and his allies in Congress have gone for broke in the lame duck session, and managed to get some of what they wanted passed. There's been a bit of noise in the media about Obama as a "comeback kid," that he's back, that sort of thing.  The Republicans as usual were happy enough to oblige, many of them apparently still in denial about what the election results meant.  It may be that Obama is confident that even though the Republicans will essentially have the upper hand in Congress come January, they'll find a way to screw things up, and he'll be able to continue on his long march towards the great leftist dreams of more spending, more government, and more control.

Given that it is the Republicans who are his opposition, that may well happen. If it begins to look that way in the early months of next year, though,  I believe the anger from serious conservatives and the tea party types will reach a point where it will be obvious to even Republicans that compromising with the Democrats will be politically fatal.  If the Republicans walk the conservative line (a big if), and Obama is unable to effectively deal with that, his chances for accomplishing much more of his agenda will diminish rapidly.

So there he'll be, still the President, once the center of a great big party that was all about him, becoming more and more of an embarrassment to people who supported him in the voting booth, in the media, and in their hearts. Maybe he'll have feelings like those Studio 54 owners must have felt as they watched their wonderful dreams and beautiful parties die, killed by their own excess and stupidity.  Maybe.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Vacation Time

Charles Krauthammer is frequently sharp and insightful in his commentary, especially when his subject is the uber-jungle of foreign policy. I think he also has potential as a boxing promoter: 

Now, with his stunning tax deal, Obama is back. Holding no high cards, he nonetheless managed to resurface suddenly not just as a player but as orchestrator, dealmaker and central actor in a high $1 trillion drama.

Compare this with Bill Clinton, greatest of all comeback kids, who, at a news conference a full five months after his shellacking in 1994, was reduced to plaintively protesting that "the president is relevant here." He had been so humiliatingly sidelined that he did not really recover until late 1995 when he outmaneuvered Newt Gingrich in the government-shutdown showdown.

Okay, in this corner we have Kid Obama, fresh from a shellacking and fighting mad for a comeback, facing his challengers, Crying John Boehner and his Congressional Weenies.  In secret, they come up with a deal that is despised by a large chunk of leftists, conservatives and tea partiers, and that would be impossible after the new Congress is sworn in.

I suppose there's a victory in there for somebody, but I don't know who. Obama does get to spend yet more of those billions he so loves wasting, but he's basically just admitted that the past eight years of liberal tantrums about the Bush tax cuts were horseshit. The only victory I see for Boehner is that his performance in the past month will make him a cinch for winning the part of 
Blanche DuBois in the next revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. The financial markets are whistling a hopeful tune but on a clear day anyone who cares to look can see all the way to Greece, and it's not a pretty sight.

Charles Krauthammer had a giddy spell about Obama early on but quickly regained his balance, and he's been largely unceasing in his criticism of Obama since.  I don't what's going on with him lately, but he does seem to have occasional bouts of a sort of contrarian romanticism.  Maybe it's of a piece with his love of baseball, taking joy in underdogs and so forth.  What do I know, he's the psychiatrist.  But if he keeps sounding like David Brooks, I'll have to tune him out for a while.

So now Obama's off to Hawaii to meet the family.  I suppose a few thousand of their closest friends will be there to enjoy a low-cal bacchinalia planned by Michelle.  In D.C., the Congress is finishing up whatever damage to the Republic they can yet manage to accomplish in the waning days of their terms.  Well, Merry Christmas for them!  And for those who will be returning to Washington in January, they have two more years to find ways to annoy us and ruin our lives, all with great pay and benefits.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Wizard of Uz

Every President has certain personal characteristics that become part of his public identity. For instance, think of Jimmy Carter's toothy smile, Reagan's tendency to ramble, or the odd way with English that both Bushes displayed.  These characteristics are, of course, sometimes used in taunting by a President's detractors.

To me, one of the defining things about Obama is his extreme reliance on teleprompters.  Without them, he seems lost addressing any crowd bigger than a coffeehouse poetry group.  When he is forced to speak impromptu, as in interviews or press conferences, his speech slows to short phrases, often punctuated by uh's or mangled words as he struggles to get his thoughts out of his mouth.  

Speaking off-the-cuff isn't easy for a lot of people, of course.  Obama does have any good politician's requisite ability to pose straw man arguments and avoid answering questions.  But what I've noticed most when I've read transcripts of his press conferences is how unorganized his thoughts are. This can be confusing to anyone trying to reconcile this trait with the claims many of his supporters have made about his alleged brilliance.

One area where he is direct and precise is when he expresses his disdain for his opponents.  From his "bitter and clingy" comments about middle-American voters during the campaign, to his "I don't want to hear a lot of talking [from Republicans]" during the Obamacare runup, it is clear that he has little regard for anyone who disagrees with his agenda.  Now in recent days we have this gem from his press conference about the tax rates deal:

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me use a couple of analogies. I've said before that I felt that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts. I think it's tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers, unless the hostage gets harmed. Then people will question the wisdom of that strategy. In this case, the hostage was the American people and I was not willing to see them get harmed.

It's a real stretch to compare elected Senators and Congressman engaging in legislative deliberation to "hostage takers."  Earlier in the same press conference he referred to hypothetical efforts by Republicans to obstruct his agenda as "bomb throwing."  This is a strange way for a President to talk about opponents who are taking some political risks of their own in making a deal with him (a bad deal, in my opinion).

The next few years are looking to be difficult ones for this country, domestically as well as abroad.  Some people might think it would be a good idea in times like these for a President to at least not make enemies unnecessarily, even if he can't actually make friends, so that he might have some breathing room in the event of a major crisis.  From what I've seen, though, that doesn't seem to be the sort of thought that crosses Obama's mind, and it could bring trouble for him eventually.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Wile E. Coyote Factor

Maybe it's an indication that I watched too much TV as a kid, but lately the political scene in Washington keeps reminding me of cartoon characters.  A few weeks back I formulated my Bullwinkle Factor view of the Presidency. Watching the Republicans at work in the Congress since the elections has led me to another postulate that I'm going to name in honor of the world's favorite cartoon canine.

So, to clarify -- the essential plot of every Roadrunner cartoon was to follow the ever-failing Coyote in his efforts to capture the Roadrunner, using any means he could contrive except what would work best, his natural talent as a predator. How is this like the Republicans, then?

More to the point, how is it not?  To anyone with eyes to see, the message of the voters in November was that we want the Republicans to repeal Obamacare, cut taxes and spending, and limit the growth and power of government.  I would liken this message to the Coyote's talents as a predator. If the Republicans clearly and effectively pursue these goals they will likely gain control of the Senate, and probably the White House, in 2012. Not easily accomplished, of course, but any progress in this direction can only win them more support among sane members of our population.

Anyone who has watched the Republicans in the last 20 years, of course, knows that their greatest talent is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Merely days after the election, John Boehner made noises that he was looking for a compromise with Obama on the tax rates question.  This notion was quickly slapped down by conservative opinion, Boehner backtracked, and conservative gurus such as Michael Medved assured the restless that this was an abberation, that Boehner was committed to doing the right thing.

Now here it is just weeks before Christmas, and what to our wondering eyes should appear?  The Republican leadership and the President have met in secret and hammered out a deal.  The tax rates would be extended but for only two years, and in exchange the Republicans would allow the President to spend yet more billions for another 13 months of unemployment compensation, and to raise taxes elsewhere (the estate tax).  This is the best deal that the Republicans could possibly get at this point, they tell us.

The reaction from conservatives and the tea party element has been slow at first, but it is gaining momentum.  They hate it.  This deal and other behavior from the Republican leadership is confirming their suspicions that the leadership still doesn't understand the magnitude of what happened on November 2nd.  Establishment Republicans in and out of Congress are trying to calm things down, apparently suffering the delusion that they are actually in control of events here.

What is most amazing about this is that the Democrats are within spitting distance of open revolt against the President, and not only on the question of tax rates.  At this writing the Democrats in the House have voted to not approve the compromise as it stands, and it is doubtful that there will be enough votes for it in the Senate, either.  So the Republicans may yet come out ahead in this in spite of their own efforts, as the Democrats rip each other to shreds over any perceived betrayal by Obama of their cherished leftist ideals.

Chalk it up to my youthful overexposure to television, but to me the best possible deal to be gotten here would be witnessing the President self-destruct like some malevolent alien on Star Trek, climaxing in a great explosion that leaves no trace of the trouble before.  That probably won't happen, but I do think that if the Republicans don't get their act together, we're going to see a political bloodbath in both parties come 2012.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Butt Out, Butthead

Our hero receives orders from a competing Master of the Universe, Julian Assange:

The whole chain of command who was aware of this order [spying on the UN], and approved it, must resign if the US is to be seen to be a credible nation that obeys the rule of law. The order is so serious it may well have been put to the president for approval.

Obama must answer what he knew about this illegal order and when. If he refuses to answer or there is evidence he approved of these actions, he must resign.

Aside from the amusing spectacle of a receiver of stolen documents demanding someone else resign for illegal conduct, on this point I'd say to Mr. Assange: screw you.  He's our President, not yours.  If he's going to resign it will be because the American people demand it, not some foreign couch-surfing anarchist clown.

Seriously, our President has vacations to plan, he doesn't need crap like this.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hold Your Tongue While We Grab Your Balls

Okay, so you're a new presidential administration and you've just suffered a historic defeat in your first mid-term elections. What do you do?  Tack to the center and try to find common ground with your opposition, hoping for a better outcome next time?

Apparently, if you're the Obama administration, you make a point of finding a way to piss off anyone who has a grandmother, 3-year old child, or a crotch, and might be planning to take a commercial flight in the United States.

The parade of incompetence from this administration since the November 2nd "shellacking" has been stunning.  I wish I could figure out a way to keep track on a spreadsheet or database, because the truth is that in the past few weeks I've been overwhelmed in trying to understand it all.  From the TSA crotch-grabs, WikiLeaks impotence, botched terrorist trial, floundering foreign policy, announcement of extended oil drilling bans, and on and on, to the apparent unwillingness of the President and his administration to even begin to care that they look more and more like a government operating without consent from the governed--is it really possible that they can't do anything right?

In the past day or two there has been news of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans over renewing the current tax rates.  If this is evidence of some new administration pragmatism, I will be amazed.  I'm afraid that instead we're going to be witnessing the sort of Republican cave-in that has made them so well-loved by conservatives and libertarians all over the nation. We'll find out about that soon enough.

If the President and his administration continue to show themselves to be so completely incapable of governing as they have in the past month, I think the idea that this President should leave before the end of his term will become much more commonplace than it is now.

For another take see Peter Ferrara's latest.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Bullwinkle Factor

Let us consider Bullwinkle.  Here we have a big, silly cartoon moose who somehow managed to become a national star with his own television show. On this show he was endlessly beset by the forces of nature, his own stupidity, and the nefarious plotting of Boris and Natasha Badanov, yet in the end he always triumphed--but only by the intervention of his long-suffering friend, Rocket J. Squirrel, affectionately known as Rocky.  In their adventures, Bullwinkle constantly ignores Rocky's excellent advice and so constantly finds himself in peril, but Rocky always comes to the rescue to make Bullwinkle a hero once again.

Now let us consider the Presidency of the United States.  Here we have men who have managed to get themselves elected against long odds to become the leader of a large and important nation.  Once a man is President he will have many battles to fight, some of his own choosing, and some over which he has little or no control.  In fighting these battles he will have allies and enemies. His enemies naturally will try to defeat him, his allies will try to help him, and his success as President will frequently depend on how well he has chosen who his allies will be.

I believe we can think of the President as a sort of real-life Bullwinkle.  He is but one man, with limited intelligence, ability, and insight, and he can't possibly meet the challenges of his office alone.  He will need people who can help him when he finds himself in crisis--in short, he is going to need his own real-life Rocket J. Squirrel to come to the rescue and let the President look once again like a hero, or at least in reasonable control.

If we look back as far as President Eisenhower, we see that he had at least one Rocky in the person of John Foster Dulles, as well as a host of war-hardened leaders on whom he could call for advice.  John F. Kennedy had a number of flying squirrels, including Robert McNamara and his feisty brother Bobby.  Lyndon Johnson as I see it was an unfortunate blend of both Bullwinkle and Rocky, a man who had done the work to make others look good when he was in Congress, but who in the end found his presidency in such deep crisis that no one could save him.

Richard Nixon had an able if unpalatable Henry Kissinger for his Rocky, but not even Kissinger could safely steer Nixon's hall-of-mirrors character past the scandals that eventually brought his Presidency down.  I don't think Gerald Ford was around long enough to grow antlers, and as for Jimmy Carter, well, even Rocky couldn't keep the Bullwinkle show from being cancelled.

I think Reagan is the President who most successfully fulfills the Bullwinkle ideal.  Try as they might, his enemies were unable to bring him down, however much they despised him.  

GHW Bush had Colin Powell at his side, but he also had Dan Quayle. Clinton had a group of not-nice Rockies, such as James Carville, and even managed for a time to make Newt Gingrich into an unwitting fifth-column flying squirrel.  GW Bush of course had Karl Rove and Dick Cheney helping him through much turbulence.

That brings us to President Obama, clearly a natural-born Bullwinkle if ever there was one.  Where is his Rocky?  Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid? I don't think so. Rahm Emmanuel and most of the economic "heavy hitters" team have flown the coup. Eric Holder will be lucky if he doesn't end up on some docket himself.  Hillary is a veritable Natasha Badanov, biding her time in plots only she and Bill can know. Michelle apparently is no longer allowed to publicly say what she really thinks, which is probably a point in Obama's favor, if unintentionally.

All in all, I think Obama's in trouble.  At this point, his motto might as well be: "Nothing up my sleeve!"

Thursday, November 18, 2010


The leader of Obama's transition team and now head of the Center for American Progress, John Podesta, comes riding to the rescue with a plan for Obama to get around dealing with all those pesky Congress-critters:

The public has made clear its disgust with Washington’s ways—the same sentiment that helped to bring President Obama to office. It would be a welcome relief from watching legislative maneuvering to see the work of a strong executive who is managing the business of the country through troubled times, doing more with less, each day working to create a stronger economy and a more effective government.

The 48-page report from the Center is apparently a laundry-list of various executive orders and bureaucratic maneuvers the President can use to further his agenda without having to win the approval of Congress.

Every President, of course, has these powers, and when he does use them, it usually goes unnoticed by most people.  But occasionally it is controversial, as with G.W. Bush's order banning funding of fetal stem cell research, or his recess appointment of John Bolton as ambassador to the UN.

Obama has the option to pursue this type of strategy if he wants, and who knows what advice he's getting from inside the White House.  The trouble for him will be that a large number of us out here already view him as a rogue President, hell-bent on ramming as much of his agenda through as fast as he can to the point where it will be monstrously difficult to roll it back.  If he takes this path he may be able to shore up his left-wing base, but it will be at the price of confirming the suspicions of others that this President is indifferent at best to the will of the people as expressed in the recent elections.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Danger, Will Robinson!

Obama's holiday from the election results is almost over after the G20 conference in South Korea.  It appears he will be coming home empty handed, though if anyone was actually expecting much of anything out of this trip, I missed it. Charles Krauthammer thinks Obama has at least stumbled into a little correct realpolitik in regards to India, even if all he's really done there is not break what G.W. Bush started.  Obama did get to bow a few times to foreign leaders and Michelle bought some stuff. All in all it was probably a nice little diversion for the prez, never mind how much it cost.

So soon he'll be back in the USA and we can watch the big question play out: what the hell is he going to do now?

The liberal soul searching/knife fight is beginning.   Some of the Democrat survivors in Congress are openly questioning the wisdom of following Stepmother Pelosi into the dark forest.  Liberal somebody Wendy Kaminer envisions David Axelrod impersonating Neville Chamberlain when he speaks of a possible compromise on tax cuts.  On the far left of their pack cartoonist Ted Rall has raised the possibility of violent revolution, though from the look of him I suspect he'll be a behind the lines guy if it comes down to actual shooting.

As John Boehner goes about teasing and intriguing us with the possibility that he might screw this up completely, conservatives wonder if the Obama administration is just another dead in the water ocean liner.  Geoffrey P. Hunt at American Thinker votes yes, and good for us:

What remains of his presidency? Where can he go from here?

With liberals desperately searching for any Lazarus scenario, Obama has neither the issues nor the votes to mount any revival. Is there any foreign policy issue that he can win? How will appeasing radical Muslims, continuing to prosecute a war he doesn't believe in, piling on further debt that leaves even European socialists gasping, devaluing the dollar by monetizing our debt, and happily denying America's greatness in the world be winning issues?

Is there a single domestic initiative remaining -- energy, labor, environment, taxes, or social justice -- where his brand of collectivist big government solutions will have the ear of the American people and the votes in Congress? And he doesn't have the votes in the Senate to name any more Supreme Court justices. 

We are a nation without a president...

The results of November 2 declared a presidency broken but more importantly asserted the primacy of self-government, locally owned and locally operated. A broken presidency, this time, is not to be mourned, but cheered.

Victor Davis Hanson spies the Democrats and finds them highly illogical:

So the most logical explanation of the problem [losing the election] is the most shunned, given its ramifications for liberalism: Even with a young, charismatic African-American president who rode to victory on the unpopularity of Bush and of the war, on the upheaval on Wall Street, and with the aid of the media — with all that, in just 21 months Obama finds himself well below 50 percent in approval and his agenda incurring the largest midterm legislative losses since 1938.

In short, the truth is unbearable, reason fails, and the self-described rationalists have become fabulists.

Mona Charen fears the twists and turns of fate might yet put Obama in the right place at the right time:

Ironically, Republicans might be the president’s lifeline. If they succeed in defunding or otherwise hobbling implementation of Obamacare; if they succeed in maintaining the current tax rates on all earners; and if they are able, through oversight functions, to prevent regulatory agencies from further intimidating businesses, the economy might improve. And to whom would credit for improved conditions flow? Yup, to Gandhi’s most important acolyte [Obama].

I think that between now and the beginning of the new Congress we'll get a good idea of how things will be going for Obama and the Democrats in the next two years.  The left is clearly in no mood for compromise, whether that hurts Democratic prospects or not. We've yet to see if that is how Obama himself feels.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Who's The Boss?

I just listened to an NPR pod of President Obama's press conference from November 3.  If you want you can find the audio here or the transcript here. I don't recommend either experience, so I'll do you a favor and present an abridged version:

THE PRESIDENT:  So with that, let me take some questions.  I’m going to start off with Ben Feller at AP.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Are you willing to concede at all that what happened last night was not just an expression of frustration about the economy, but a fundamental rejection of your agenda?...


Actually, he didn't answer the question with "no," I made that up.  What he did do was drone for more than 50 minutes something along the lines of "working together," and I think I heard a few "the American people expect us to cooperate" or whatever.  He wrapped it up with a Reaganesque twinkle-in-the-eye bit on how he's optimistic about the American people. Well, we are a cute bunch, aren't we?

At some point the same day Obama made a call to and urged them to stay the course:

"We always knew bringing about change in Washington wouldn’t be easy, and it might get tougher in the days ahead.  The message I took away from the elections is very simple: The American people are still frustrated. They still want change; we just have to work harder to deliver the change the American people want....To those who began the journey with me almost four years ago, think about how far we’ve come. Think about the ups and downs we went through during the course of the campaign. There were times when folks counted us out and we always came back. The same thing is going to happen over the next two years, and the next six years.”

Later in the week he got with the crew at 60 Minutes and conceded that, well, he has been a bit too busy ramming crap down our throats to keep up with some of the finer points of governing:

"...I think that, over the course of two years we were so busy and so focused on getting a bunch of stuff done that, we stopped paying attention to the fact that leadership isn’t just legislation. That it’s a matter of persuading people. And giving them confidence and bringing them together. And setting a tone."

I take away from all this that the President is saying he's bummed his party lost so many elections, but he's going to keep on keepin' on and do his best to get more of that hope and change that all of us want, because his party only lost so many elections because we didn't get enough of that hope and change fast enough because he wasn't out there communicating enough...

Okay, I understand--the President doesn't get it.  A huge part of the electorate have voted against his agenda in every way they could, from Congress to the statehouses, yet he concludes that what they really want is for him to do a little more elbow rubbing with the Republicans, and maybe we need to see more of him on TV.

So he does a press conference to convince us he understands our anger and genuflects with a mea culpa for 60 Minutes, not sounding very sincere at any point.  In between he makes a call to an important group of leftist apparatchiks and urges that they be patient, that they may have lost the battle, but they'll win the war.

I have to wonder which constituency is more important to him--the mass of voters who just sent his party to the doghouse, or the small minority that share his "progressive" ideology.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Meditation Before Mayhem

Tonight on election eve it appears that the Democrats are going to suffer a terrible drubbing, both in the Congress and out in the states.  It will be a good thing to see some of the more noxious politicians go down to defeat, such as Harry Reid, Charlie Crist, and God help us, even Barney Frank. This will no doubt instill fear in the hearts of most Democratic incumbents. Probably more than a few liberal-leaning Republicans will be wondering if it will be their turn for defeat come the next election.

I expect that Democrats will first go into an anger/denial mode, after which their own truth-tellers will begin to portion out the blame for their losses. Some will blame the electorate, some will have technical explanations, but I think that most will be drawn to conclude that the blame lies mostly with the President. Once this sinks in, I think Obama will find himself in the fight of his life, besieged from the left and right, and, who knows, even sabotaged from within by his own character.

I've seen very little about Obama to make me think he has any capacity for stepping back and becoming more respectful and conciliatory in his dealings with the opposition. I expect that his use of divisive tactics is going to increase and that we're in for a couple of nasty years in politics.  If it gets too nasty, I think even more political leaders will see their stars falling, possibly including the President.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I Predict

I predict that President Obama is going to have a very difficult time getting anything he wants through the Congress after next Tuesday.  The pressure on the Republican leadership, whether they like it or not, will be for them to pursue repeal of Obamacare and to prevent the rest of Obama's agenda from going into effect.  The remaining Democrats will find the President increasingly irrelevant to their own interests.  Depending how events play out, he will at best have to expend a lot more energy than he wants in keeping the congressional Democrats united, and at worst they may begin to rebel as they see him dragging their fortunes down with him.  And if any serious scandals should erupt in such a political environment, I think we'll hear calls from both sides of the aisle for his resignation.

Sumo Wrestling Wrap-Up

So the big question now is, how is Obama going to react to whatever level of smashing defeat the Democrats are likely to suffer on Nov. 2?

Wide-ranging intellect and mouth Newt Gingrich sees an opportunity for Obama to do the Bill Clinton triangulation dance:

“Any president has enormous capabilities,” Gingrich says. 

“If [Obama] wants to, he can change. Bill Clinton was prepared to. It’ll take six months, but we’ll find out by June or July where Obama is.”

AP White House Correspondent Ben Feller predicts a new sort of Obama will emerge from the Taj Majal Hotel:

Obama will try to make gains on deficit reduction, education and energy. He will enforce his health care and financial overhauls and try to protect them from repeal should Republicans win control of Capitol Hill. He will use executive authority when blocked by Congress, and steel for scrutiny and investigations if the GOP is in charge.

Jay Cost in The Weekly Standard compares the approaches of comeback kids Harry Truman and Bill Clinton in regaining favor with the electorate, and wonders if Obama will follow either:

It follows that the success or failure of President Obama’s response to a new Republican Congress will depend very much on whether he accurately reads the public’s mind. If he thinks the country is center-right, he will accommodate, as Clinton did. If he thinks it is center-left, he will “give ’em hell,” as Truman did.

So far, the president has telegraphed that he intends to fight. He has warned that a Republican victory would mean “hand-to-hand combat.” A comment the president made in a recent interview with the New York Times Magazine suggests he expects Republicans to move his way, not vice versa: 

[Obama]:  "It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible .  .  . either because they didn’t do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn’t work for them, or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way.
Finally, Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry in National Review Online describe errors in perception that have led the Democrats to their current precipice, and point out Republicans can fall off the cliff just as well:

Even now some liberals cannot accept that their dream palace is moving into foreclosure. They insist that the Democrats would be faring better if they had governed in an even more liberal manner. The polls, meanwhile, show that the percentage of Americans who consider Obama too liberal has steadily climbed during his presidency — and now constitutes a near-majority. The key mistake that Obama and his allies made in 2008 was one that political movements find hard to avoid: making too much of favorable election results. 

It seems clear enough with hindsight that the elections of 2006 and 2008 were rejections of a group of Republicans and their approach to governance. Elections almost always produce negative mandates: The electorate’s instructions rarely consist of more than the admonition not to be like the losing party. That’s a lesson that Republicans should take to heart, lest they repeat the errors of the Democrats they seem poised to vanquish.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Doors of Perception, Closed Tight

R. Emmett Tyrell has doubts the President and his Democrats are seeing things clearly:

Our President has a difficult time conceiving of this growing majority who oppose him. Apparently in May, President Obama asked a group of presidential historians over to the White House to discuss history and to inform him of any historic movements comparable to the Tea Party Movement in all of American history. The historians told him what he wanted to hear. 

As Peter Baker wrote in the New York Times Magazine, the President wanted to know whether there were "precedents for this sort of backlash against the establishment? What sparked them and how did they shape American politics." Reportedly the historians spoke of the "Know-Nothings" of the 1850s, the Populists of the 1890s, and the Coughlinites of the 1930s. Thus our President was reassured. They were racists and fruitcakes. He heard nothing to challenge his smug sense of history.

No doubt there is wisdom in old sayings about knowing your enemies.  If Obama reacts to widespread defeat of his party by stepping up his current "us vs. them" rhetoric, he'll show himself to be either malevolent or else stunningly clueless about who opposes him and why.  I think this would make his general approval plummet further still and might lead to what must be his ultimate nightmare, his own base turning against him.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The View from Olympus

Amy Alkon sees remarks from our hero and offers her advice:

Obama told the several dozen donors that he was offering them his "view from the Oval Office." He faulted the economic downturn for Americans' inability to "think clearly" and said the burden is on Democrats "to break through the fear and the frustration people are feeling." [Politico]

My suggestions? Resign from office and take the Republicans with you.

I think this sort of patronizing attitude from Obama is only going to further annoy all us slow-thinking 'Muricans out here as we ponder the number of fingers and toes it takes to count up to 3 trillion.  Maybe in between putts the President can turn to his "view from the Oval Office" and see how many people are flipping him the bird.

As for the Republicans, I would really like to see a serious challenge to the supposedly inevitable coronation of John Boehner as Speaker of the House. I think he needs to know that if he doesn't aggressively pursue repealing, defunding and deregulating all the crap liberals have put into place in the past few years, he's going to be facing an extremely angry rebellion of his own, inside and outside of Congress.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thomas Sowell's Advice

Interviewer:  Last question--if you could offer one sentence of counsel to the President of the United States, what would it be?

Sowell:  Resign.

I doubt Obama listens much to Thomas Sowell, but he should.

Sleeping Dogs

From back in June, Chet Nagle, who according to his bio is a retired defense & intelligence guy, talks about the Sestak affair and it's implications:

To judge by just the recent White 
House admissions, it does look like somebody might have committed a serious crime or two. Besides calling for a year in jail, the federal felony in question is an impeachable offense, and Rep. Issa wants the White House to give him a letter stating no emails or memos or documents pertaining to the issues will be destroyed. It seems that even the media are not buying the usual White House pooh-pooh, and Primarygate will not fade away. On top of which, whether or not press secretary Gibbs ever discusses the bribery allegations with his boss, there is another list of domestic and foreign disasters that some think will bring down the president anyway.

Issa will be someone to watch, assuming he becomes chairman of his committee. I have to wonder to what lengths the Obama-friendly media will go in attacking him to distract attention from any damaging revelations that might come out his committee's investigations.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Gird Your Loins & A Review of Obama's Greatest Hits

Jonathan Chait warns that the Republicans are going to Do It:

Wait, you say. What will they impeach him over? You can always find something. Mini-scandals break out regularly in Washington. Last spring, the political press erupted in a frenzy over the news that the White House had floated a potential job to prospective Senate candidate Joe Sestak. On a scale of one to 100, with one representing presidential jaywalking and 100 representing Watergate, the Sestak job offer probably rated about a 1.5. Yet it was enough that GOP Representative Darrell Issa called the incident an impeachable offense.

Most of this article is hidden behind a subscription wall, unfortunately.  You can occasionally hear Chait on the Hugh Hewitt radio show -- no doubt this is not the last we'll hear of this subject.

Elsewhere, Victor Davis Hanson observes Obama on the latest wing of his endless campaign tour and finds something lacking:

It all reminds me of the failed comeback tour of the proverbial fading rock star, the desperate promos for the sinking supposed blockbuster Hollywood movie, or perhaps something akin to Jerry Ford’s WIN buttons or the Carter desk thump.

And looking towards lesser lights, a blogger at firedoglake is distressed that Obama hasn't initiated massive criminal prosecutions against bankers (at least I think that's what he's saying), and reminds us that Nobody Messes With Joe:

The Obama Administration needs to turn from its so-called pragmatism and fulfill the need for Justice NOW, or Obama must resign and give Joe Biden a chance to serve the American people.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Whither Goest Obama?

Film producer, writer and political blogger Jane Hamsher searches for ways for Obama to continue his agenda after the election, without the support of Congress:

The idea has taken root that the President is held captive by the need for 60 votes in the Senate, but his executive powers extend far beyond that. He can issue executive orders, rules and regulations, he has the power of appointment, and he can negotiate executive agreements with foreign countries.

Of course, a large part of the population is already alarmed by Obama's demonstrated creativity at finding ways of getting what he wants, whether or not it is legal or constitutional; for example, the Gulf oil drilling embargo, in defiance of a court order against it, and his many appointments of White House "Czars" as a way to avoid Congressional oversight.  If Obama, after losing the Congress, goes down the road of ruling by decree rather than consent, I think he's going to find himself facing an even larger and angrier opposition than he has now.  This would be a situation that I think he would have little ability to control.

Monday, October 11, 2010

On The Other Hand...

Victor Davis Hanson, well-versed in the ironies of history, sees a path for Obama towards ultimate victory, or at least getting re-elected:

If Democrats get clobbered in November, expect just such a passive rope-a-dope strategy, different from the last two years of either the Carter term or the first Clinton term. Obama will let Republicans punch themselves out over the nation’s problems, hoping they expend energy and incur blood. Then, as things improve, he can come alive to brag in 2012 that the upturn would have been even better had he not been stopped by right-wing obstructionists. The mellifluent Obama will do far better if his agenda remains hope-and-change banter instead of becoming messy and costly law. Republicans will try to ensure both — and thereby may save Obama from himself.

I have trouble envisioning this sort of zen/aikido Obama myself.  I have an easier time imagining him reacting like an angry child to the Democrats losing the Congress.  As I see it, he tends more towards bullying and looking for ways to get around the Constitution than he does engaging in persuasion and long-term strategy.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Let's go to the tape...

Getting started with where we've been, a search of google finds this at the top: Peter Ferrara concluding his article,  "The Coming Resignation of Barack Obama":

...the key will be the Democrats themselves...After suffering grievous losses in this year's elections, they will have limited tolerance for the above described political pressures and chaos. With the very survival of their party at stake, the Democrats will buckle and desert President Obama, joining the calls for his resignation. At that point, with zero prospects for reelection, and unable to govern effectively, he will resign.

Further to the left (way further) we find writer & cartoonist Ted Rall with a broken heart, mere months after Obama took office (5/29/09):

Obama is cute. He is charming. But there is something rotten inside him. Unlike the Republicans who backed George W. Bush, I won’t follow a terrible leader just because I voted for him. Obama has revealed himself. He is a monster, and he should remove himself from power.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Advice From A Friend

From R. Emmett Tyrell, commentary on Rahm Emmanuel running for mayor, with some words for the big guy, too:

"Now is a good time [for Emmanuel] to leave the White House. It might be a good time for Barack, too. Can one run for mayor while being president of the United States? Check it out, Barack. We can all run."