Catharsis 4

The presidency of Barack Obama is disastrous for America, and so for the world. Yet it may turn out to be good for America, and so for the world, because it is such a disaster.

Obama coming to power was “progressive” liberalism coming to power. It was environmentalism coming to power. It was a late-twentieth-century revised leftism coming to power – the leftism that had given up on a vanishing proletariat as the target of its ruthless “compassion” and substituted “victims of colonialism, racism, and sexism”. It was multiculturalism – ie sympathy with Islam – coming to power. It was Robin Hoodism – take from the rich and give to the poor –  coming to power. It was the Western-academic version of egalitarianism coming to power. All those ideological theories that had been stewing in the skullpots  of professors and community-organizers and pacifists and spoilt-kid terrorists ever since the 60s and Vietnam, could now at last be put into practice, and a new Virtuous America would emerge. There would be “social justice”. There would be “free” health care for all and education distributed and quality-controlled by the wise decisions of trade union bosses. Everyone would work – in ever greater numbers for the government. There would be no more fossil-fuel pollution; the sun, the wind and the waves would keep everyone cleanly supplied with light and warmth and transport. No one would eat too much or anything bad for their health. Of course everyone would be less free, but that would be a trifling sacrifice for Virtuous America. All the Left’s high ideals would at last be realized.

To do this Obama was elected.

He has made America poorer and weaker.

Will the lesson be learnt?

If the Obama disaster doesn’t bring the ideology of the Left into derision forever, it should at least keep a few generations from trying the failed experiment again.

Victor Davis Hanson is thinking along the same lines as we are. He writes at PajamasMedia:

Barack Obama has done the United States a great, though unforeseen, favor. He has brought to light, as no one else could, many of the pernicious assumptions of our culture from the last half-century. He turned theory and “what ifs” into fact for all America to see, experience, and, yes, suffer through. …

As a young, post-racial, first African-American president — glib, hip, cool, charismatic, with unapologetic Chicago hard-core leftist roots and Ivy League certification — Barack Obama was right out of liberal central casting. He would do what no other liberal had done in fifty years: prove to America that it really, really was left-of-center by ramming down its throat both a liberal agenda and thousands of left-wing facilitators. …  Obama arrived with a super-majority in the Senate, and a large majority in the House: anything was now possible and almost everything was thus tried. …

At last we sheep got the messianic prophet to deliver the divine message. When he was declared a “god,” with supernatural powers that sent tingles up journalists’ legs, we were at last to climb the mount into the Promised Land. Electing him was the trick; simply enacting his redistributive agenda would be easy … now the people’s money could be at last directed to saving the planet, helping mankind, and bringing heaven to earth. …

What of the Obama effect on the outer world – of the weaker America?

I don’t think another president will ask the Arab League and the UN — but not the U.S. Congress — whether he can lead from behind France and Britain in bombing an Arab oil exporter on behalf of “rebels” who promise Sharia Law. “Putting light” between America and Israel earned us this week’s charade at the UN, and a new Middle East war on the horizon in the manner of 1967 or 1973, but this time with new enemies on the periphery like Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan in addition to a hostile Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. “Reset” won’t be used any more, and the idea that friends like Britain, Israel, Eastern Europe, etc. were to be shunned while rivals and enemies like the Palestinians, Russia, and the Latin American communists were to be courted is over also. Friends are friends for a reason, and enemies the same …

And of the poorer America?

After $5 trillion in borrowing and 9.1% unemployment, Keynesian economics has been slain by Obama. Oh, Obama may crisscross the country demanding just one more chance to borrow another half-trillion to “grow jobs,” but no one is listening any more. “Shovel ready,” “stimulus,” “investments,” and “infrastructure” simply have been redefined by Obama as euphemisms for wasteful borrowing. I doubt they will regain currency for a decade or so. And thanks to Obama, a billion is now a passé noun, and trillion has been reduced to the status of monopoly money. …

The old welfare state after Obama will soon be addressed as never before. With almost 50 million on food stamps, and record numbers on new extended unemployment insurance, with Medicare and Social Security nearly insolvent, the Obama boilerplate remedies of making “millionaires and billionaires,” “corporate jet owners,” and “fat cat bankers” pay their fair share won’t nearly be enough. Obama demagogued the “fair share” issue to the death, and it cannot be demagogued much longer since the money is about gone. …

Of nationalized health care?

For much of the 1950s and 1960s, we were told that we lacked a British-style National Health Service, thanks to all sorts of devilish AMA conspiracies. JFK, LBJ, and Carter could not get passed what we all secretly were supposed to have craved. Hillarycare failed. But Obama alone brought us federalized health care, a trillion-dollar borrowing plan that will supposedly streamline care, save us trillions in the long term, and cost less in the here and now, as state GS-20 doctors attend to us, in DMV lines, far better than their greedy counterparts. Despite all the noble lies, no one believes that. After 2012, ObamaCare will be repealed in short order, and there will be no more fantasies about economical cradle-to-grave health care denied us by conspiratorial doctors and greedy insurers. …

Of race relations?

The public thought, with their first “black” president, they would be hearing even-handed lectures, as one week Obama explained why the federal government had to ensure equality of opportunity in a multiracial society, while on the next he gently warned minorities not to rely on government to ensure parity when success or failure for all Americans far more often hinged on personal choices, discipline, and sacrifice. Instead, Obama voted present while his surrogates ensured that America is more racially polarized than any time in our history [recent history, anyway – JB]. But this too was cathartic. A majority of the population of all races has simply tuned out the now near meaningless charge of “racist” and sees the real danger to America in racial tribalization and balkanization rather than classical racial discrimination. We will see another black president some day, but race will be incidental not essential to his or her character.

Of environmentalism?

For the foreseeable future, “millions of green jobs” and “cap and trade” are also the stuff of comedy. Thanks to Obama we’ve been there with Van Jones, Solyndra, and EPA hyper-regulations, and done that. I don’t think Al Gore will be any more quoted or EU policies emulated. More likely we will go back to finding new fossil fuel sources as private technology keeps improving on alternative energy. Fairly or not, “green” conjures up everything from Climategate to Solyndra, and suggests an entire class of elite academics, financiers, and activists who wished to follow the oil companies’ crony-capitalist business plans of the 1940s and 1950s without the basic truth that oil is a logical energy source and so far a windmill isn’t.

Of socialist idealism in general?

After Obama, I don’t think there will be any more John Kerry or Al Gore sermons about the superior Europe model either. A disarmed, undemocratic, insolvent, shrinking, and increasingly polarized continent is now a model of what the United States should not be. There simply have been too many California as Greece stories for any politicians to advise us with the old admonition: “But In Europe, they….”

Obama thought that he would replicate the EU paradigm. He would bring in properly certified technocrats from academia or government like Chu, Geithner, Goolsbee, Holder, Orszag, Romer, and Summers to oversee massive new regulations and taxes that would dictate from on high how the ignorant masses must be protected from everything from cheap gas to old-style light bulbs. In less than three years, they all proved far more ignorant about what makes America work than the local car dealer, welder, or farmer. After Obama, Americans will not be fooled for a generation or so into thinking that a Harvard PhD or Berkeley professor “really” knows that borrowing is prosperity …

Had McCain been elected, or had Obama proved a canny Clinton triangulator, we would never have gotten out of the bipartisan rut of massive borrowing, growing government, higher taxes, and unionized public employee regulators. But with Obama as the great liberal deliverer and with the masses scared to death of Him, the next president will inherit an America in catharsis. The future is uncertain, but at least now, after our cauterizing, we have some sort of chance to return to the old principles that might save us.