By lex, on September 18th, 2009
The bloom is off the rose,** says the Fresno farmer-turned-historian:
(Nearly) half the country is not merely distrustful of him, but increasingly viscerally angry at him as well. Actually, “him” is a construct: At times there seems to be no “him.” Instead, the people don’t know whether the kindly Dr. Barack is their president, or his unpredictable double, Mr. Obama.
They never expected the president to show mastery of economic affairs or reveal much expertise in matters abroad, and accordingly were not disappointed when he did not. His critics concede that he inherited two wars and a dismal economy, though they argue that he may be making these bad situations far worse.
Instead, the real anger from independents arises over disappointment, false merchandising, and hypocrisy. It is real and deep — as is true of any animosity that arises from a sense of betrayal of former trust.
Well, it was always going to be a rough road. Candidate Obama was something of a magic mirror – everyone saw in him what they wanted to see. Not nearly partisan and left wing enough for the hyperventilated left. Entirely too left for most on the right. And increasingly something of shock to those in the muddled middle who thought that all change – any change – was progress. But people were made uneasy by the extraordinary sums spent in economic stimulus, unnerved by becoming unwilling owners in major automobile manufacturers whose stock they would otherwise eschew, uneasy at his imperiousness at home and obsequiousness abroad and increasingly alarmed at the costs attaching to a health care scheme whose contours can only be guessed at:
In serial fashion, Obama has accused his opponents of lying and distortion — and yet himself still cannot clearly demonstrate in detail whether our existing health plans will change, whether illegal aliens will be included in his reform, how we are to pay for this new entitlement, and why there is need for revolutionary change in the next 60 days.
Obama has given us several figures on the number of uninsured; they change weekly. There was to be a public option; now there is not; and then there is sort of not one. He knows no more than we do what exactly lies hidden in a 1,000-page plan.
Tort reform? Perhaps; but not likely; or is it suddenly kind of? A bigger deficit? Not by a dime — as if more people can get better coverage (remember no rationing!) at less cost. Billions in waste and fraud will soon be saved to pay the costs — if so, why not right now and banked instead?
In almost every statement on health care, Obama uses the conditional or optative mood (may, could, would, should, etc.). And for good reason: When he resorts to the indicative mood of fact he is rarely being fully truthful. The problem is existential: The American people like their health-care system and want it at most only tweaked. All the invocations of God, threats, distortion, and assigning of guilt over the dead to come cannot make them accept in a democracy what they do not trust or want.
The liberal wing of the Democratic Party has always been passionately full of wonderful ideas, the trick has always been trying to find a way to pay for them while not creating a dependency society.
Of course, we can always soak the rich. Probably will. But that’s analogous to discovering, in G.K. Chesterton’s delightful turn of phrase, that there are too few hats to go around, and deciding to solve the problem by chopping off some heads.
Bill Clinton ran up against the same realities, stumbled and tacked back to the center. If he had only kept his private life more, well – private – he might be more fondly remembered all around. Mr. Obama seems to lack Clinton’s insatiable appetites. Perhaps there’s time for him yet if he gives up on trying to drag so many of us where so many refuse to go.
The American people can not for long be deceived, but they are willing to be led.
They will, I think, steadfastly decline to be driven.
** 09-11-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.