The Corner

Pickett’s Charge

As I was watching the president’s speech last night, the thought occurred to me that the Battle of the Debt Ceiling, which has become far more pitched and far more strategically important than I would have thought a few months ago, bears an interesting resemblance to Gettysburg in 1863. Like Lee and Meade in Pennsylvania, the armies of the left and the right have willy-nilly stumbled into a momentous clash that must end in turning-point defeat for one of them.

Both commanders were on the field last night, with Obama offering yet another mendacious exercise in naked class warfare, and Speaker John Boehner responding with a surprisingly effective counter-attack. (Although, Andy, I completely agree with you that cuts amortized over ten years practically cry out “Sucker!” Bring on the wrecker’s ball and let’s get this party started.)

From my New York Post column today:

President Obama likes to present himself as the only adult left in Washington, but last night’s televised address to the nation had more than a whiff of childish desperation about it.

It’s clear: The only thing that matters to him right now is not the fate of the country but his re-election.

Discussing the looming Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling — the subject of fierce debate and negotiation for the past few weeks — the president last night once again (a) blamed Bush, (b) demonized the successful, (c) denounced “tax breaks” for corporate jets and oil companies, (d) threatened the country’s seniors, veterans and contractors with the chimera of “default” and (e) dredged up the ghost of Ronald Reagan to try and cast himself as the great compromiser.

So far, so same-old same-old Obama. As many of us could see from the jump, the Punahou Kid is a one-trick war pony, but that trick ceases to amaze after you’ve seen it a few times, and by now, as he stands there in an empty room addressing the ether and ordering phantom regiments of citizens to besiege their legislators on his behalf, it’s more than a little unnerving.

In the third year of the Obama recession, the country is unemployed, demoralized and just plain tapped out. And with ratings agencies like Moody’s eyeing our credit rating like repo men, a downgrade from AAA would have a devastating ripple effect throughout the entire economy.

Ever since Obama was forced last December into retaining the Bush tax cuts, he’s watched his once-formidable stash of political capital dwindle to almost nothing. Yet he still refuses to move away from his tax-raising, soak-the-rich monomania…

Still charging against the same old wall. But, for a change, the Republican lines seem to be holding. 

Democratic reactionaries are still fiercely wedded to the infinitely expanding entitlement state. The idea that the nation’s wealth might someday run out seemingly has never entered their heads.

Obama won’t be running against Boehner in the next election, but last night’s dueling speeches starkly laid out the choices of the 2012 election: The blame game or fiscal sobriety? More irresponsible spending in the name of “social justice,” or a return to first principles?

Quoting Jefferson, the president said, “Every man cannot have his way in all things.” Obama should heed his own words, let Congress sort this out, and worry about re-election later.

The time for talk is over, but alas, talk is all this president has.

The story goes that, after the failure of Pickett’s Charge on the third and last day of the battle, Lee feared a Union counter-assault and order Pickett to prepare his division. “I have no division,” replied the defeated general. 

Should the Republicans win, they should not make the same mistake Meade did, and fail to press their advantage. “Now,” wrote Lincoln, “if Gen. Meade can complete his work so gloriously prosecuted thus far, by the literal or substantial destruction of Lee’s army, the rebellion will be over.”

The battle between left and right in this country — the Cold Civil War — which has been raging at least since the Roosevelt administration and certainly since the sixties, may not come to as decisive an end as the War Between the States, but the GOP has a glorious opportunity here to make the debt-ceiling debate into a much larger tussle over what kind of nation we are – not what kind of nation some, like Obama, might want us to be.

Let’s hope they don’t blow it.

Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.


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