1December 24, 2011 | Filed under 2012 Presidential Race,Barack
by Michael Laprarie
So writes Timothy Dalrymple, who explores the interesting phenomenon of how
liberals are handling the stunning reversals in policies enacted by
President Obama, compared to the idealism of Candidate Obama:
[T]here’s no question that the Obama administration has been far less
different from the Bush administration than was promised during the campaign.
What’s so astonishing, though, is not that Obama has extended so many
controversial Bush administration policies but the way in which his
erstwhile supporters have responded. They face (at least) two options:
Barack Obama is a sellout, “just Bush with a tan,” subservient to
the same malevolent political and economic forces that Bush was.
OR the Bush administration was actually pretty reasonable to adopt
these policies in the first place, and the Obama administration has been
reasonable enough to recognize the fact.
Both options require the liberal to admit a mistake: either he was wrong
about Obama, or he was wrong about Bush. But the first option requires the
liberal to sacrifice his love for Obama, while the second option requires
him to sacrifice his hatred of Bush. Either Obama was dishonest in the
campaign or overwhelmed by baleful influences once he came to the Oval
Office — or Obama, once he came to the White House and had the same
information and responsibility that Bush had, came to more or less the same
conclusions as Bush had.
Unsurprisingly, Option #1 comes out the huge winner here. So powerful
is the partisan mindset that I haven’t seen a single prominent liberal
writer take Option #2. They puzzle through the “mystery” of “George W.
Obama” and conclude that the contradictions between Obama’s ideals and
actions compose “a subtle disaster for all those whose hopes once rested
with him.” They would rather abandon their love of Obama than their hatred
of Bush. To put it more sharply: they are so deeply committed to the
nefariousness and malfeasance of the Bush administration that they would
rather believe Barack Obama a failure, a liar or a dupe than believe that
George W. Bush took reasonable actions in light of the circumstances.
Of course among conservatives, Option #2 wins out. Comedian Dennis Miller
recently joked (the video has been pulled from YouTube unfortunately) about
what a president’s first day in office must be like, when he has “the big
briefing” with all the outgoing Cabinet members and military officials from
the previous administration and they tell him, “Okay Mr. President, here’
s how f***ed up things really are.” At which point, naturally, the new
President agrees that the previous administration had a pretty good grip on
reality, and decides to mostly keep things the way they are.
But all of this seems to be begging a bigger, and I think even more
important question – why does the Obama Administration deserve a second
term? Remember, this was the smartest, best educated, most informed bunch
ever to be put in charge of our government. If they had this many problems
correcting all the “Constitution-shredding” by the Bush Administration (
and really, they pretty much failed at all of it) then why should we keep
them in charge for another four years? If the Left is this disappointed
with the performance of Barack Obama, then why aren’t they supporting a
strong challenger who really can get the job done? Jimmy Carter was at
least challenged by Ted Kennedy.
I can’t help but think that we’re back to Option #2, at least where the
War on Terror is concerned. The Left knows this; they know that all the
whining over Guantanamo Bay and military tribunals and indefinite detention
of terrorism suspects was nothing more than election year smoke and mirrors.
There never was a plan to “fix” any of this, and none of them have a
plan to do it now. And as far as the economy is concerned, the draconian
over-regulation of Dodd-Frank and the heavy-handed tactics of the Obama EPA,
Department of Labor, and Department of the Interior are precisely the kind
of government controls they have wanted for decades. If anything, ObamaCare
is heading the country in what they see as the right direction; without
major reforms or a repeal of the law, we are on track for full universal
health care within the next decade or two.
I don’t think I’m wrong when I suggest that the Left would easily trade
civil liberties (including those of a relatively small handful of people
involved in terrorism) for their vision of Big Government utopia. Some may
be unhappy that it didn’t happen in only four years, but most are probably
pleased with the “progress” that President Obama has made so far.