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Why the Great and Growing Backlash?
What Scott Brown's election portends for the Obama agenda.


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Victor Davis Hanson

Dream up a gargantuan backlash against Barack Obama’s left-wing gospel, and you still could not invent the notion of a relatively unknown, conservative Scott Brown knocking off an Obama-endorsed, liberal, female attorney in liberal Massachusetts — in a race to fill the seat once held by Ted Kennedy.

If a liberal senatorial candidate can be defeated in Massachusetts, eleven months after the Obama hope-and-change blitzkrieg, it is hard to believe that any liberal seat is necessarily safe anywhere.

So the real story is not a populist backlash, but a growing populist backlash, whose ultimate nature and magnitude are as yet unknown. What’s going on?

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BUYING JOBS?
Voters are sick and tired of a terrible year of big spending and big deficits — especially the sight of Obama and his congressional allies almost daily talking breezily about spending what we do not have.

Voters went for the hope-and-change Obama in part because he promised fiscal sobriety after the Bush $500 billion deficit. Instead, in utterly cynical fashion, Obama trumped that red ink four times over. In the process, he developed a terrible habit of promising favored constituencies a hundred billion here, a hundred billion there as if it were all paper money — rather than real borrowed currency that will have to be confiscated in the future from the beleaguered taxpayer. It only makes it worse that the more the administration borrowed, printed, and spent, the higher unemployment rose and the lower economic activity plummeted.

Most have had enough of pie-in-the-sky talk of massive new health-care entitlements, cap-and-trade taxes and regulation, more stimulus, and more takeovers of private enterprise. The country is broke and the people want to pay off, not incur more, crushing debt. What got us into the mess was too much borrowing, skyrocketing debt, and reckless spending — not too many balanced budgets and too much lean government.

PROPHETS CAN’T MISLEAD?
No politician quite gets a pass for deception and prevarication. Obama in his narcissism thought his sonorous rhetoric made him exempt from a “read my lips” or “I didn’t have sex with that woman” moment. It didn’t.

People heard his serial promises about airing the health-care debate on C-SPAN, his new-transparency/no-lobbyist vows, and his monotonous boasts to close down Guantanamo within a year. All that is now “inoperative.” The problem was not just that Obama made promises that he broke, but that he made them so frequently and so vehemently — and so cavalierly broke them. That brazen campaign deception is problematic for a politician, but proves fatal for a self-appointed messiah.

A CESSATION OF CORRUPTION
We went from a Republican “culture of corruption” to a liberal cesspool of corruption. Sen. Chris Dodd lectures Wall Street while he gets sweetheart loans and vacation-home deals. Few could make up a story that the nation’s top tax lawmaker, House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, is a tax dodger, and the nation’s top tax enforcer, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, is an even more egregious tax dodger. When the Democratic Senate leadership started buying health-care votes at $300 million a clip, our Congress became little more than the praetorian guard, auctioning off its support to any wannabe late Roman emperor. The idea of a muckraking Obama nominating Tom Daschle as his Health Secretary — the liberal populist who skips out of thousands of dollars in taxes on his free corporate limousine service — was the stuff of satire.

BUSH REALLY, REALLY, REALLY DID DO IT
No one likes a serial whiner. It has been a year now — and Obama still blames George W. Bush ad nauseam. He did it in Massachusetts again — and on the eve of the election, no less. Blaming the past for the mistakes of the present gets old quickly. And when one adds in the constant What’s the Matter With Kansas? brand of condescension about naïve yokels not knowing what’s good for them, it gets even worse.

Yet Obama still pontificates that angry deluded voters will “suddenly” come to appreciate how he rammed health care down their otherwise ignorant throats: “The American people will suddenly learn that this bill does things they like and doesn’t do things that people have been trying to say it does. . . . The worst fears will prove groundless. And the American people’s hope for a fair shake from their insurance companies — for quality, affordable health care they need — will finally be realized.”

Good luck with that, O philosopher king!



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