Had the Obamites been sober and circumspect after the 2008 election they would have realized that Obama had pulled off what McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, and Kerry had not, due to a once-in-a-century perfect storm of about six events:
1) The September 15, 2008 financial meltdown that destroyed John McCain’s small, but steady lead.
2) The fascination with a possible landmark election of an African American candidate.
3) The inept McCain campaign that at times seemed more to wish to lose nobly than to win in a messy fashion.
4) The adroit Obama campaign that stressed centrist, “across the aisle” issues and style.
5) The “tingle in the leg” biased media coverage.
6) The first election without an incumbent or vice president since 1952 in which both candidates ran against the status quo Republican record.
Instead, Obama — egged on by obsequious advisers, an out-of-touch, hard-left base, and a toady media — decided that he had done what other Northern liberals had not, either because (a) the country was at last ready for European-style socialism, or (b) his singular charisma and talents could convince it that it was even when it was clearly not.
The result was that our Oedipus/Pentheus rushed headlong into socialized medicine, mega-deficits, needlessly polarizing appointments of the Van Jones type, and various federal takeovers, coupled with quite unnecessary editorializing about largely local matters — from the Skip Gates mess to the Arizona immigration law and Ground Zero mosque.
In each case, the supposed uniter deliberately weighed in on these controversies to quite unfairly demonize his opponents — “stupidly” acting police, Arizona xenophobes picking up children on the way to buy ice cream, Islamophobes wanting to deny religious liberty, etc. A thousand other nicks, from Eric Holder’s “nation of cowards” to Obama’s musings that at some point one needs no more income, ensured continual bleeding as his poll numbers fell by nearly 30 points in just 20 months.
The result was that the president soon lost the moral capital to push through an unpopular agenda — to such a degree that his out-of-the-mainstream views and his polarizing style of governance might well destroy Democratic congressional majorities for a decade.
As in all Greek tragedies, we the audience can see what might have happened had Obama avoided hubris and its attendant nemesis: If, from the get-go, he had focused on jobs; avoided talking about tax hikes; postponed health care; controlled spending; worried about rising deficits; avoided the “them vs. us” rhetoric; and stayed Olympian and aloof when polarizing local controversies grabbed the cable TV headlines.
And now? After November, Obama can only hope that he can outsource the messy work of cuts and budget balancing to the congressional Republicans. Chances are he will demagogue them as heartless while taking credit for an economic rebound once investors, businesses, and corporations see an end to Obamism and its gratuitous slurs against the wealthy, and thus start using their stockpiled trillions to rehire and buy equipment in 2011.
In the meantime, an entire generation of Democratic House members and senators are going to pay a heavy price for falling for a clearly inexperienced, untried, and often petulant candidate amid the exuberance of the 2008 hope and change wave.