May 15, 2013 | 165 comments
April 9, 2013 | 42 comments
March 1, 2013 | 50 comments
February 20, 2013 | 109 comments
February 18, 2013 | 73 comments
Obama’s outreach to independent voters who hate big government but like the idea of a black president.
Oh, for the good old days — when Barack Obama was forced to defend his policies; when he couldn’t stop himself from lashing out at his political opponents. Today he is happy to float above the fray — ignoring any and all criticism and, indeed, openly borrowing from the vocabulary of his critics as he espouses a new-found love of liberty, free enterprise, and Western civilization.
If there is one thing our president cannot abide, it is being lectured to by someone else. What sweet release, then, to jet over to Europe, escaping the need for being on the receiving end of a second lecture from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who addressed the U.S. Congress on Tuesday. Just a few days before that, Netanyahu had publicly taken Obama to task in the Oval Office, telling the president that his plan for a return to Israel’s 1967 borders was a “non-starter.” This was said with his eyes fixed on the president and the cameras rolling.
Netanyahu’s address to the joint session of Congress was a rousing success — with no fewer than 56 standing ovations. By contrast, Obama’s address to the British Houses of Parliament a day later was a pallid affair, with only a smattering of polite applause for what the Telegraph described as “a series of orotund banalities.”
But no matter from the president’s perspective. His important task now is to try to persuade a majority of the independent voters in the U.S. who supported him in 2008 that he is, after all, the “post-partisan politician” that he promised to be when he was running in the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton.
That is something, apparently, that many Americans still want to believe.
Shelby Steele made several telling observations along this line in an op-ed (“Obama’s Unspoken Re-Election Edge”) in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal. He wrote:
There have really always been two Barack Obamas: the mortal man and the cultural icon. If the actual man is distinctly ordinary, even a little flat and humorless, the cultural icon is quite extraordinary. The problem for Republicans is that they must run against both the man and the myth…
What gives Mr. Obama a cultural charisma that most Republicans cannot have? First, he represents a truly inspiring American exceptionalism: He is the first black in the entire history of Western civilization to lead a Western nation — and the most powerful nation in the world at that…
He literally validates the American democratic experience, if not the broader Enlightenment that gave birth to it.
To put all that in a cruder way, Steele’s observations recall George W. Bush’s line about the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” If Steele is right, many voters — along with most of Obama’s Republican political rivals for the presidency — are restrained by political correctness from harsher and more telling criticism of his mediocre or worse track record as a president.
Certainly, in the 18 months remaining before the next general election, it will not be hard for Obama to project a far better image to independent voters than he did in the first two years of his presidency, when he committed himself to an epic and disastrous increase in federal spending and U.S. indebtedness. He is therefore to blame for the weakest recovery from any recession since the end of World War II. To add insult to injury, he ineptly embarked upon an “apology” tour of foreign nations that seemed to be squarely aimed at doing everything possible to placate, or appease, long-standing U.S. enemies, while offending many of our staunchest allies — beginning with Britain and Israel.
Barack Obama no longer has to run against George W. Bush to pick up some or all brownie points that he lost with independent voters during his first two years in office. All he has to do is to run against the Barack Obama of 2009/2010 — sounding, by contrast, a bit more like George W., or even Ronald Reagan.
Obama’s recent address at Westminster was filled with commonplace utterances that were only remarkable because he said them — no doubt partly with the intent of providing some comfort food to independent voters back in the U.S. The speech included the following elements:
• Endless repetition of importance of the so-called “special relationship” between the U.S. and Britain — which seemed to count for nothing back in the midst of the BP oil spill, less than 12 months ago.
• Repeated references to the notion that the “longing for human liberty is universal” — which Obama and others on the left scoffed at during his two years in office… describing it as another one of George W.’s deluded ideas which failed to take account of the diversity of human cultures.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?