I’ve heard it said about a thousand times in Campaign 2012, from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan all the way down to the talking heads that proffer their advice to the Republican ticket on the news channels. It’s a variation of this:
Barack Obama is a failed President. He did not live up to expectations. His plans for moving the economy did not work.
I’m not entirely sure what the motivation behind these baseless claims is. Sure, Obama promised lots of things that sounded great: cut the deficit in half by the end of his first time, a free unicorn at the end of every rainbow, that sort of stuff. But those were just campaign promises, and anyone who managed to wipe the star dust from their eyes long enough to see what Obama was really offering can not say, with a straight face, that Obama’s policies did not work as intended.
Unemployment over 8%, more people on food stamps and other forms of government assistance than ever before, the massive increase in both debt and deficit, a healthcare reform act that lays the groundwork for socialized medicine, a decimated military, the abandonment of Iraq and, soon, Afghanistan, the “kill now, ask questions never” policy towards America’s Islamist enemies, the leaking of national security secrets that may well get Americans killed, the mealy-mouthed apology tour that launched his presidency, the denial of American exceptionalism, the cooling of relationships with traditional allies from Israel to England, government payoffs to unions, the over-regulation of Wall Street, the crippling of traditional domestic energy programs in favor of unproven, politically correct corporate cronies, the embrace of an Arab Spring that is looking more like an encroaching Arab Winter every day…come on, nobody can be that incompetent.No, Obama’s plan has not failed. To quote a friend of mine: “This is the plan.”
Consider the 28 years leading up to the swearing in of Barack Obama. There were a couple of recessions, and catastrophic events, but the majority of those 28 years were good times for the nation under both Republican and Democrat presidents and Congresses. The economy boomed under Ronald Reagan, experienced a brief and shallow lull during the term of George H.W. Bush, soared in Bill Clinton’s second term, and was generally positive through George W. Bush’s two terms, though his presidency was sandwiched between recessions, the first after the dot-com bubble burst and 9/11, the second after the housing market imploded. We won the Cold War, engaged in brief military actions in Iraq and Bosnia, and then entered a period of extended hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11. Stretched out over three decades, America was mostly living through good economic times, low unemployment, a steadily increasing stock market, and relative peace.
This was the America that Barack Obama promised to “fundamentally transform” just five days before the election.
When it is all boiled down, 2008 Candidate Obama used an overwhelming amount of feel-good platitudes and just enough generic “promises” to convince a nation that was weary of war and reeling from the very recent crash in the housing market, a crash that nearly took down some of the largest banks in the world, that he was exactly what the country needed. But underneath the hopey-changey rhetoric, the Beatlemania-style adoration of his fans, and the promises of centrism and elevated political discourse lay his real agenda: to fundamentally transform the United States of America.
In this, he has been remarkably successful so far. Programs like Obamacare change the very nature of the relationship between government and citizen, while sweeping financial regulations of banks and environmental regulations of everything undeniably alter the way businesses can function. At one time a business was beholden to its customers, and good businesses would do everything they could to keep the customer satisfied. Businesses that did not keep the customer happy were short-lived. Under decades of Progressive leadership from both Democrats and me-too Republicans, businesses must now put their customers second. The first responsibility of business now is to conform to an ever-shifting set of rules and regulations written by people with little to no understanding of how the private sector functions. The first priority of any business now is to keep the government satisfied. If a business fails to conform, in even the slightest of ways, to the thousands of pages of regulations that Congress passes, the penalties can be so swift and punitive that doors are shuttered. New businesses find it harder and harder to get up and running.
Obama’s vision for America is the standard Progressive vision. When he was elected, his goal was to entrench the government deeper into the business world, to provide goods and services to more people because a voter addicted to government subsidies and handouts will almost never go back, to grow the size of government and dramatically expand its area of responsibility. For Obama, the private sector operates on the largesse of government, thriving only because business owners and CEOs went to public school and had good teachers, or because the government built roads and bridges to allow your customers easy access to your factory.
Obama set out to fundamentally transform America. Far from being a failed President, he has been remarkably successful in getting his agenda written into law. Given a second term, this agenda will be set into concrete, and generations of Americans to come will be living in a world created by a radical community organizer from Chicago…generations that will never know the America that used to be.
Too seldom seen clarity from a great writer.