The damage from Obama will be lasting
Safe to say most Washingtonians had never heard of a “derecho” before June 29, when one of these speedy and destructive windstorms ploughed through the capital, leaving behind dead bodies and battered homes and more than a million households without power. Now the storm is over, and one can expect this obscure meteorological term to pass just as swiftly into everyday speech. Exotic, vaguely menacing, and evoking senseless, abrupt calamity, “derecho” is an especially apt description of America in the age of Obama.
Like the homeowners in Fairfax County, Va., picking up felled tree branches and putting in insurance claims, Americans across the country are still recovering from the Obama derecho that struck the nation from 2009 to 2010. The damage from that whirlwind has been ugly. The cost has been enormous. And another one may form at any moment.
A spectacular confluence of events swept Obama into office. Seven years of war, almost a year of recession, and seven weeks of financial crisis pulled down the incumbent president’s approval rating on Election Day 2008 to an atrocious 25 percent. Obama’s opponent was a war hero and a courageous statesman who nevertheless seemed rather anachronistic, not to mention confused at the bewildering and frightening economic situation.
Obama, on the other hand, had a smooth and graceful and likeable character that appealed to America’s best hopes and dreams of racial and partisan conciliation. His running mate was a dolt, but a familiar one. They promised a new tone in Washington, sound economic management, lower health care premiums, cutting the federal deficit in half, and an end to the war in Iraq. This was the winning ticket, 53 percent to 46 percent.
The economy worsened after Obama’s election. Unemployment spiked. The government took over the financial system, nationalized mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, consumed AIG, drew closer to buying GM and Chrysler, and drastically expanded the monetary base to prevent credit from dissolving further.
The economic and legal and political arrangements that had led to two decades of expansion were being re-written hastily and unthinkingly. A deluge of taxes and spending and regulations was let loose, with the stated aim of transforming the base of a system that had produced the most prosperous civilization in history. It turned out that when Obama spoke of putting America on “a new foundation,” he meant it.