Monday, November 5, 2012

Obama, the Virtual Challenger

Victor Davis Hanson
Making no attempt to defend his record, he talks of what he “would” do in a second term.

In these last days of the race, Obama counts on the news of Sandy turning attention away from Romney’s October momentum, to photo-ops of himself in a monogrammed bomber jacket trying to look presidential. The more Benghazi creeps into the news, the stranger the silence from the Obama administration. But the real story is that almost all of the hope of 2008 has ended in the fear and loathing of 2012.

Obama has made no real attempt to defend much of what he has done in the last four years. It is as if his first term never existed — no 70 percent approval rating, no Democratic House, no Democratic Senate. Instead we are back to the future as a young Lincolnesque senator, with a clean slate, has come to save us from George W. Bush’s recession, which, we now learn, was caused by plutocrat Mitt Romney all along. Obama is the perpetual challenger, once more running against Bobby Rush, Alan Keyes, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain on all the wonderful things he would do if only he were elected.

On energy, suddenly the president has dropped all mention of “wind, solar, and 5 million new green jobs.” Under the radar, he may be pursuing cap-and-trade and shutting down coal plants by executive orders, but officially Obama is bragging that the oil and gas industry ignored him, drilled like crazy on private lands, and — in spite of him, not because of him — have vastly upped U.S. fossil-fuel production. And suddenly that is a good thing. His new energy message seems to have been reduced to something like, “Vote for me, because I failed to stop private energy companies, and so we are much better off.” It is as if cap-and-trade, the Chevy Volt, and Solyndra never existed.

There is the same disconnect on the economy. The recent dismal jobs report fell on deaf ears. The media do not care that the unemployment rate is worse now — after over $5 trillion borrowed and wasted — than when Obama took office four years ago. Old Democratic slogans like “It’s the economy, stupid,” and “jobless recovery” apply only when the GDP growth rate is over 3 percent, not hovering closer to 1 percent, and when unemployment is well below 6 percent, not nearly 8 percent. There is not much defense of Obamacare, or the stimulus — whose expenditures to this day cannot be defined, much less defended. Van Jones and “green jobs” are ancient history. Food-stamp statistics, new disability filings, and plunging per capita income are irrelevant and supposedly just right-wing talking points.

Instead, Obama is running as the challenger, using the hypothetical “I would” or the future-tense “I will” — as if it is Romney who has a record of failed presidential leadership. In short, Obama’s economic message is that we can reduce our defense budget — given sudden world tranquillity — and, at last, nation-build in America through radically new ideas of spending trillions of dollars in borrowed money.

The Obama notion on race, promulgated always by surrogates, is that a pro-Obama good 2008 vote proved that America in theory might not be racist, but a bad 2012 vote would confirm that it still is. No mention was ever made that Obama received more white votes than had any Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter. So the Reverend Joseph Lowery — who, with the exit of the president’s old pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, gave the benediction at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 with soaring platitudes of racial healing and in turn received the Medal of Freedom from him — just announced, “I don’t know what kind of a n—– wouldn’t vote with a black man running.” He then went on to declare that he once again believed, as he had insisted as a youth, that white people were “going to Hell.” When criticized, the Medal of Freedom winner said this was meant as a joke, but one may question how appropriate such a joke is in this new age of racial healing.

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