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Reflections on a depressing yet reascendant Obama presidency.
In the fantasy novel The Life of Pi, a young Indian boy is shipwrecked and somehow manages to survive 227 days at sea in a lifeboat with a 450-pound Bengal Tiger.
I can’t help thinking of “Richard Parker” — that’s the tiger’s name in Yann Martel’s novel — when I think of the strange relationship between our 44th president and the American people.
Who is this president and how does he relate to the popular novel? Is he the man-eating tiger, or the potential victim in the little boy named “Pi”?
I would say that he is something else again: the spinner of the tale not as it was told in the book, but as it played out in the American psyche over the past four years.
He conjured up a tiger — and kept him terrifyingly alive in many peoples’ minds — in order to effect “transformational change.” He wanted to obliterate what is left of the age-old national ethos of self-reliance and individual responsibility… and replace it with the social democratic mush of endless whining about “fairness” and “social justice.”
Like most of Obama’s creations (cf. Dreams from My Father), his all-devouring tiger was a composite: a combination of predatory capitalism and rampant greed; and of uncaring and non-interventionist and non-redistributive government.
Never mind that this tiger is a total illusion. It is not what produced the subprime housing crisis or the financial meltdown of 2008.
Over the past four years, Barack Obama has made heightened fears and low expectations the norm for more and more people — beginning with the college-educated young, who are his most steadfast and enthusiastic supporters, even though half or more of them are unable to find anything other than unskilled jobs.
That said, yesterday the president snatched an electoral victory from the jaws of an economic and fiscal defeat — winning a second term as president despite the obvious failure of his policies to produce jobs and income growth over his first term in office… and despite the explosive growth in national debt caused by those same policies.
This is a deeply depressing defeat for conservatives. But it is far from unprecedented in annals of history. It is always easy for progressives — or for demagogues, to give them another name — to make promises they can’t keep to people who will mistake the leader who promises the most for the leader who cares the most. It happened in ancient Greece. And it has happened again in modern Greece (and many other states besides).
We don’t expect it to happen in the United States. But it has. It has.
Here, then, are some notes on the Obama’s first term — some tell-tale examples of his administration’s facility in finding useful ways to neutralize unpleasant or embarrassing realities and, in some cases, to turn them into political successes.
The Jobs Disaster
In his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention in late August 2008, Obama promised the sun, the moon, and the stars, saying, among other things:
I’ll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy — an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced.
However, as soon as he was sworn into the presidency, he began — simultaneously — to turn up the spigot on federal spending; and to bad-mouth the economy. This created a heads-we-win; tails-you-lose scenario, allowing the president to accept credit for any possible economic gains while blaming any disappointments on George W. Bush or previous presidents going back to Ronald Reagan.
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.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?