Memeorandum links a long essay by Peter Wehner in Commentary, discussing the liberal explanations for “the unexpectedly shovel-ready high-speed intercontinental 57-state train wreck that is the Obama administration” (is that what they call a meme aggregation?). According to Wehner, they are as follows:
- Obama overestimated himself, and the strength of his position.
- Obama wasn’t liberal enough. The stimulus should have been bigger, etc.
- Obama was too nice to those Republicans, who are, after all, scum that deserve nothing.
The first is entirely plausible. Pride goeth before a fall and whatnot.
The second, or the argumentum at Krugmanum, is the product of ideology. When you’re committed to a vision of the future, admitting that vision has flaws is painful. Easier to pretend that the problem is your lack of commitment to it. If you just have enough faith, you will walk again, my son.
The charge that the stimulus bill was not large enough is strangely beside the point. It was a failure because of its very design. Less than 15 percent of the stimulus was spent in fiscal year 2009—and only about 5 percent of the money appropriated was intended to fund items such as roads and bridges. Even Obama later chuckled that his much-hyped “shovel-ready projects” were “not as shovel-ready as we expected.” The bill actually served as the legislative embodiment of a 40-year liberal wish list. Had it been twice the size, it would simply have included more wish-list items.
If Obama had focused on the actual financial problem that triggered the recession, he would have proven himself as a no-nonsense, honest leader. Instead he indulged the Democratic Congress.
As to Obama being to “nice”:
Obama has routinely used rhetoric that is, by presidential standards, hyper-partisan and splenetic. He has accused Republicans of being members of the Flat Earth Society, of being “social Darwinists,” and of putting “party ahead of country.” He has portrayed them as cruelly indifferent to the suffering of autistic and Down syndrome children and the elderly. And as the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel has pointed out, the administration has gone so far as to engage in implicit intimidation and threats against private citizens in order to frighten them away from giving money to Mitt Romney. To believe that Obama is at heart an irenic, unifying political figure requires an almost clinical level of self-delusion.
This is simple double-think. If you ever find yourself pointing out to a liberal how nasty, partisan, and ideological liberals often are, he or she will tell you that a) those liberals don’t represent most liberals, and b) they’re only telling the truth anyway, so why are you angry? Because conservatives are so nasty, liberals end up being nasty back, which is a shame, as liberals aren’t nasty at all. QED.
What they cannot confront, is this:
For the first two years of his presidency, Obama had his way with the stimulus package, the Affordable Care Act, the GM-Chrysler bailouts, “cash for clunkers,” financial regulations, release of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds, credit-card price controls, the endless extension of jobless benefits, and more. As the Wall Street Journal put it, “Mr. Obama has been the least obstructed president since LBJ in 1965 or FDR in 1933.”
The results have been parlous for the country and created cognitive dissonance for progressives.