The Weeping, Wailing, and Gnashing of Teeth
August 12, 2010—by Victor Davis Hanson
Posse on the Horizon
The usual rush to the exits from a sinking administration is now ongoing. The only difference this cycle is that—whereas in the case of the Bush departed who, we were lectured, were rightfully bitter that their genius was not appreciated (e.g., Paul O’Neil, Richard Clarke, Scott McClellan, etc) by the Bush Neanderthals, and were men of conscience who were “blowing the whistle”—we are now told by the New York Times that the Obama parachutists are burned out and “exhausted,” from “blackberrying” all day long!
You see, we should not imagine that these technocratic careerists want to leave the bank before the posse arrives in November, or are moving on to lucrative seven-figure jobs after the requisite administration bumper-sticker billet, but rather after being on the cross suffering for our sins for 18 months, well, can suffer no more for the unworthy. We hoi polloi didn’t turn around the economy, and we couldn’t win the war, and we made them keep Guantanamo open, and we wore them out over health care, and we forced more of those once damn Predators and formerly unconstitutional renditions down their throats.
Al Gore just shrieked that his green war is over. He says he lost and is withdrawing from the front. His retreat from his epic Stalingrad-like stand-off had nothing to do with the green equivalent of the ice and cold, the Red Army, or his shaky Eastern European allies, but was simply a crisis of will among the faithful: no one was brave enough to follow Commander Gore into battle anymore.
So Gore did not bring up the recent green-gate email revelations, the weirdly cold weather the last two years in a variety of places (my grape crop is 2-3 weeks late here in once scorching California), the lack of green leadership shown by his splurging on multiple estates all the way to Montecito, or his own public devolution from Nobel Laureate to “sex poodle.” (Green gurus can’t fly on private jets; sorry, they just can’t—at least if they want still to remain green gurus.)
The Thrill Is Gone
Obama himself is not the Obama of 2008 when all America’s problems were declared coterminous with twangy George Bush, and executive governance was defined at sitting at a Senate hearing table in front of blaring cameras and pontificating before squirming witnesses. (Obama, Biden, and Hillary sitting in judgment of Petraeus [who in just three years would now offer them a life-raft for the moment] was one of the more bizarre moments of the last twenty years.)
The tingling legs are gone. The Newsweek editor who declared Obama a god is gone. Heck, there is not even a Newsweek anymore, wrecked on the shoals after sailing blindly to the siren song of hope and change. Even the left is saying if you sing “Close Guantanamo” for years, then, close Guantanamo.
I don’t think we will hear any more Obama assurances of on-hand first responders, ready to attend to the fainted at his hope-and-change rallies. There is no more Victory Column, faux Greek capitals, or cooling planet moments any more. The fair left town and all that is left is the clean-up and the remorse for acting so stupidly last Saturday night on the Midway.
Now we will see the real Obama. Does he have the character to persevere with soon to be 40% something approval ratings, an angry base, a fleeing media, and an organized, energized opposition? Or is it to be two more years of golfing, Bush did it, Martha’s Vineyard, blame the limb-lopping surgeons, beer summits, killing time in preparation for a $50 million a year, Mandela-like, globe-trotting post-presidency.
Then There’s John’s Room
There was a time when blow-dried John Edwards gripped the nation with psychodrama interviews with the network anchors about his heroic ordeals and triumphs. And now? Only John’s room remains. Strike that—he does not even get to play in John’s room anymore. John Edwards did the impossible: he turned the National Enquirer into a premier American newspaper, whose reporters had more integrity (albeit a weird sort of prurient profit-driven integrity) than did all those Columbia Journalism School graduates at the Los Angeles Times or Washington Post).
The Problem With Spandex
I used to think in 2004 that John Kerry was trying to lose the election. Why windsurf or bike in spandex when you’re trying to prove Bush an out-of-touch elitist, insensitive to a “jobless recovery” of 5.7 percent unemployment (those were the days)? But what now are we to make of buying a $7 million yacht, and weaseling out on high-tax state Massachusetts’s $500,000 bite (he used to call those who did that “Benedict Arnolds”). That’s a new one: a populist Democrat skipping the yacht tax in times of recession even amid liberal calls for even more taxes and the president’s warning for all of us to “have skin in the game.” (Michelle showed a lot of skin with a one-strap designer blouse in Marbella the last week, perched over the Costa del Sol, recharging her batteries for Martha’s Vineyard, after all of us downright mean people raised the bar on her.)
In reviewing how the once mighty have fallen hard, I am not being partisan here. The Gingrich Republicans, likewise drunk on praise and power, imploded in 1996. After 2002, the new “permanent” Republican majority was gone by 2006 as Duke Cunningham et al. proved a precursor to Rangel, Dodd, and Waters.
The only difference? Just as the traditional-values right suffers the additional charge of hypocrisy when its luminaries get caught on massage tables or in airport bathroom stalls, so too blue-collar Democrats, who spread around other people’s money, should not prefer Marbella to Pismo Beach or spandex to shorts and a T-shirt. I don’t think I have ever seen the country so mad; and the furor will explode at the ballot box in November in ways even the Democrats’ depressing polls underestimate.
And that’s that.