The Corner

Castor Oil Triangulation

The president’s polls recovered after his post-“shellacking” outreach and his “civility” speech, but they are descending again. Among the reasons for this: his partisan hit-lectures about the budget; a number of petulant on- and off-the-record put-downs; gas prices on their way to $5 a gallon; the new $1.6 trillion annual deficit having sunk in; and his seeming like a deer in the headlights in Libya. His original economic and national-security teams might have been able to defend $5 trillion in new borrowing and a foreign policy based on “reset” and “I’m not Bush,” but the architects of his stimulus-investment-borrowing plan (Orszag, Romer, Summers) and most of his national-security advisers (Holbrooke, Jones, and soon Gates) are gone.

The result is a sort of directionless triangulation: Obama tries to move to the middle, it seems to be working, then in penance or shame he trashes the very people he had intended to court, and that’s the end of “working across the aisle” until his advisers see the sinking polls and try it again. And when he tries to follow the bipartisan calculus abroad, it bothers him terribly, so we sorta get Afghanistan and sorta get promised withdrawals; sorta stay in Iraq yet trash the policies that got us there; sorta bomb Libya and sorta not; sorta close Guantanamo and stop tribunals and renditions, and sorta not. His foreign policy is now analogous to his distracted attitude toward Obamacare: His heart is on the basketball court, and so he gives hundreds of exemptions from the party line.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Fight for Kavanaugh 

The cynics — or, perhaps more precisely, the realists — believed that the Democrats were playing for time in the hopes of finding another accusation against Brett Kavanaugh. The cynics were right. The New Yorker stooped to publish a shoddy story alleging that Kavanaugh exposed himself to a woman while he ... Read More
White House

Trump Stands By ‘Fantastic’ Kavanaugh

President Trump was supportive of his nominee to the Supreme Court during a radio interview set to be broadcast on Monday morning, in which he characterized Brett Kavanaugh as a “fantastic, fantastic man” and called into question allegations of sexual assault. In the interview — recorded on Sunday, ... Read More