Obamania: Ni fleurs ni couronnes (It’s the lying, stupid!)

Presidential honeymoons
Les gens ont cru qu’il marcherait sur l’eau, comme le Christ, mais ce n’est qu’un homme, il n’est que président. La déception est à la hauteur des attentes. Helen Thomas (doyenne des correspondants de la Maison-Blanche)
Finalement, ce qui compte, ce n’est pas la personnalité mais l’ordre du jour. Dans un pays où la politique se joue entre les lignes des 40 yards, Obama a voulu passer en force jusqu’à la ligne des 30. Et le peuple américain – désorganisé et sans leader mais néanmoins inquiet et mobilisé – l’a arrêté net juste à gauche du centre du terrain. (…) Son élection n’était pas une acceptation du modèle de démocratie sociale à l’européenne. Charles Krauthammer

L’Obamania serait-elle enfin morte et enterrée?

En ce premier anniversaire de l’investiture d’un président qui pulvérise les records de brièveté d’état de grâce (10 mois contre 37 pour son prédécesseur abhorré – seuls Ford et Clinton avaient fait mieux et Reagan aussi bien) …

Sanctionné tant par des sondages en chute libre que la perte inattendue, après plus d’un demi-siècle et les récents revers du New Jersey et de la Virginie, du fief démocrate du siège de sénateur de Ted Kennedy au Massachussets …

Avec, au-delà de la perte pour son parti de la majorité qualifiée au Sénat, la perspective, à dix mois des élections de mi-mandat, de la déroute finale de sa réforme du système de couverture médicale …

Fin de la polarisation et transparence de la vie politique, départ d’Irak et fermeture de Guantanamo, bondieuseries du discours du Caire, …

Retour, avec l’analyste Victor Davis Hanson et contre nos thuriféraires des médias qui ont vite fait de mettre ça sur le dos de la crise, de la supposée « versatilité » des électeurs ou bien sûr de l’habituel épouvantail Bush (voire… du racisme!), sur la série de mensonges et de contre-vérités qui expliquent, au fur et à mesure que passent les unes après les autres les nouvelles dates-butoir pour les promesses non tenues, pour une bonne part ce dur retour à la réalité …

“Let Me Be Perfectly Not Clear” and “Make Lots of Mistakes About It”
Victor Davis Hanson
Pajamas Media
January 19, 2010

It’s the Lying, Stupid?

“Lie” is a rather harsh word; the noun and its verb form leave little to context or extenuating circumstances. So I use it sparingly.

But I know no other word for President Obama’s long string of “misstatements,” especially the blatant ones about closing Guantanamo within a year of his inauguration or serially declaring that he would insist on healthcare debate airing live on C-SPAN.

How odd that the liberal block is quiet that once coined “Bush lied, thousands died” (even when the CIA and Defense intelligence was accepted by both parties and in sync with what the Arab world and Europe were insisting upon [recall the charge of a supposed naïve Bush taking us to war against a nut who would gas our troops marshalling in Kuwait.]). In any case, not telling the truth has a lot to do with sinking polls.

So I don’t quite buy the liberal lament that the people will support Obama when the economy improves.

It was roaring in 2005-6, and still Bush was unpopular — given the violence in Iraq and the administration’s inability to articulate our objectives there. And even when Iraq was winding down in 2008, polls still showed persistent American anger at the media narrative of a botched Katrina, the insurgency in Iraq, and a “jobless recovery.”

No, the American people are losing confidence in Team Obama because quite simply they are tiring of being lied to, and treated like children in need of Ivy-League Platonic guardians.

Yes, they intrinsically liked Obama and put away for a time their suspicions that he had not come clean on his real ideological intentions, his radical leftist past, his intimate association with the creepy Rev. Wright, and his partisanship that had made him the most liberal senator in the Congress.

Let Us Count the Ways

But almost immediately, Obama, again, in Platonic fashion, began to say things that could not possibly be true. Remember the categories.

1) The bait and switch lies. Here, we, the eager voters, were told that there are no more bad blue/red state dichotomies. We are a purple America. Instead, we immediately witnessed the demonization of the supposed “rich” (I say supposed, because the Buffet/Gates/Turner plutocrat is exempt), who are not “patriotic,” do not wish to “spread the wealth,” and must “pay their fair share.” Almost immediately Obama’s Bush became America’s Emanuel Goldstein — an Orwellian figure constructed to unify the people around an evil predecessor incapable of a single positive act — whether keeping us safe for over seven years from another 9/11-like attack, freeing 50 million from the Taliban and Saddam, or generating enormous national wealth from 2002-08.

Some deluded voters in November, 2008, went for Obama on promises of a new kinder, gentler politics. They got instead the most partisan, nasty Chicago politicking in memory.

2) The “noble” lies. These are untruths aimed at the common good. In Cairo, we were told Muslims did all sorts of wonderful things in the past like invented printing and sparked the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Why not fabricate and exaggerate when the intentions are global ecumenicalism?

Remember the new tactic of assessing job losses by “jobs saved”? And why not, since we wish to bolster our spirits and believe that our borrowing was not wasted on pork-barrel insanities, rather than “investments” that created “millions of green jobs” that otherwise would not have existed?

And we must believe that health care reform as envisioned by the Obama massive state assumption of private insured care will save “trillions in waste and fraud.” Believe that, and at last the dream of “universal healthcare” is obtainable.

Remember the phrase “using all our resources” during the high energy prices of the 2008 campaign? Obama then was a centrist who would drill, develop nuclear, look for more gas, burn coal — all to tide us over as we waited for the dream of Van Jones. That too was a noble lie, necessary for we fools to cling to, while the anointed fashioned a “green” cap-and-trade future for us, whose efficacy we could not quite yet fathom.

3) Tactical Lies. Then there are the tactical lies to achieve the desired ends in “that was then/this is now” fashion. Turn to Orwell’s Animal Farm for the right landscape. Healthcare debate on C-SPAN/healthcare debate behind congressional doors. Taxes on Cadillac health plans were an inane McCain idea/taxes on Cadillac health plans are a way to eliminate waste and fraud; stupid, clueless Bush was pushing unpopular Social Security reform that 65% of the people didn’t want/wise, hip Obama is pushing noble healthcare reform that 65% of the people don’t want. The list is endless and started in 2007 with public campaign financing as good for dark horse candidates/public campaign financing as bad for front-runner cash cows.

Apparently two or three “let me be perfectly clear”s and 3-4 “make no mistake about it”s — when prefaced to something like “no more lobbyists in government” or “posting legislation well in advance on the internet” — make it all so.

4) The Deadline Lies. Remember those? You’ve seen that sort of “if you don’t, then you….” in the supermarket when the poor harried mom has the three-year-old kid screaming and kicking on the aisle floor, and screams back as she blocks shoppers, “If you yell one more time, I’m going to spank you!” — as he screams and kicks all the louder.

Guantanamo shut by January 21, 2010? Iran in non-proliferation compliance by the U.N. summit or the G-20 meetings or the October face-to-face negotiations or the first of the new year? Remember healthcare done by the summer break? By Thanksgiving? By Christmas or else? By the first of the year?

I used to have a relative of sorts who came around the ranch and wanted $500. I gave it to him once and he’d return sheepishly every three months, and promise, “This spring I am going to pay you back.” “This summer I’ll paint your barn.” “Before the first rain, I’ll fix that tin roof on the shed.” Finally, I forgot I ever gave him the money, and now only vaguely recall how silly I was. So too, we forget the promises, so frequent and impossible they now seem.

The list could be expanded exponentially and already, reader, you are screaming even as you read this, “But Victor, you didn’t list the worst of all, the lie about (fill in the blanks)…”

The Catalysts for Such Prevarications?

1) Habit. Obama could more or less say anything in mellifluous tones, and the media would become enraptured. This ability to charm by sounding honey-tongued while saying nothing started perhaps in the Ivy-League and has never ceased. Some habitual liars persist since they are never caught or even admonished. Obama is never called to account (cf. Robert Gibbs’s angry reaction to the blasphemy when asked about the C-SPAN fantasies). The most transparent administration in history hasn’t had a news conference since mid-summer, even amid the toadies (Note to media: photo-ops and interviews are not press conferences). The media and Obama have an unspoken pact that goes something like the following: “We both are educated elites who know best for the Neanderthals. So from time to time I will have to lie to you to get our shared aspirations realized; and I accept from time to time, you will have to play act as critics to cling to some sort of legitimacy that is likewise necessary for our joint aspirations.” (And then we’ll both have a beer together afterwords.)

2) Morality. All philosopher-kings believe that the ends justify the means. To make us loving, caring equals — with no rich, no poor — we must sometimes adopt the Chicago politics that we insist we abhor. A Tony Rezko is bad, but a Tony Rezko is temporarily necessary to get the sort of hope and change we’ve been waiting for.

3) Squaring Circles. You can reconcile thinking that the U.S. is culpable for its race/class/gender felonious past, and globe-trotting the world on a presidential luxury jet with the red, white , and blue plastered all over it — the logical manifestation of a uniquely meritocratic, capitalist, and free-enterprise economy. One cannot damn insider, influence-peddling, private-jet flying Wall Street bankers, corrupt insurers, and “the rich,” and then hire the same, frequent the same, and aspire to be the same. Class warfare is hard when your own profile is the logical target. And so one is bound to change the story as hypocrisy begins to cramp.

4) Personal Confusion. Read both Obama memoirs (is that the right word for these auto-hagiographies?), and it becomes clear that he is still confused who he is. Barry Soetoro? Barry Dunham? Barack Dunham? Barack Obama? Barry Obama? Prep school upper-middle class in Hawaii or impoverished minority in need of affirmative action? African or African-American or plain old American suburbanite? Harvard Law Review and Chicago Law lecturer or unpublished wannabe legal professor? Harry Reid’s unaccented “Negro” dialect or Harry Reid’s ability to turn it on only as needed? Racial healer who wows the suburbanite and NY-DC insider clique, or angry racialist who throws out “stupidly,” the clingers speech, “typical white person” and brags about not missing a Rev. Wright sermon to the Chicago Sun-Times? When one is confused about who one is, one creates alternate narratives and personas — and, yes, often they will clash.

The economy might just be in what we heard once (wrongly, in fact, in 2004) categorized as a “jobless recovery.” And, yes, the people have roared that they don’t want the remedies of statist healthcare, mega-deficits, higher taxes, more government, green boondoggles, apologetics abroad, blanket amnesty, and more lunatic appointments like Van Jones and Anita Dunn.

But what is taking Obama down below 50% approval is mostly a public awareness that they elected a deeply cynical man, who either cannot or will not speak the truth or keep his promises (note the Nixonian resonance in “perfectly clear about…”). In fact, it is worse than that — in the postmodern world of Barack Obama there is no truth per se, just competing narratives privileged by the relative degree of power behind them and the relative perceived moral intent involved.

So when the advocates of hope and change, of non-traditional America, of the poor and the needy and the more noble, say something, it must be true because, you see, it should be true.

Voir aussi:

One year out: President Obama’s fall
Charles Krauthammer
The Washigton Post
January 15, 2010

What went wrong? A year ago, he was king of the world. Now President Obama’s approval rating, according to CBS, has dropped to 46 percent — and his disapproval rating is the highest ever recorded by Gallup at the beginning of an (elected) president’s second year.

A year ago, he was leader of a liberal ascendancy that would last 40 years (James Carville). A year ago, conservatism was dead (Sam Tanenhaus). Now the race to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in bluest of blue Massachusetts is surprisingly close, with a virtually unknown state senator bursting on the scene by turning the election into a mini-referendum on Obama and his agenda, most particularly health-care reform.

A year ago, Obama was the most charismatic politician on Earth. Today the thrill is gone, the doubts growing — even among erstwhile believers.

Liberals try to attribute Obama’s political decline to matters of style. He’s too cool, detached, uninvolved. He’s not tough, angry or aggressive enough with opponents. He’s contracted out too much of his agenda to Congress.

These stylistic and tactical complaints may be true, but they miss the major point: The reason for today’s vast discontent, presaged by spontaneous national Tea Party opposition, is not that Obama is too cool or compliant but that he’s too left.

It’s not about style; it’s about substance. About which Obama has been admirably candid. This out-of-nowhere, least-known of presidents dropped the veil most dramatically in the single most important political event of 2009, his Feb. 24 first address to Congress. With remarkable political honesty and courage, Obama unveiled the most radical (in American terms) ideological agenda since the New Deal: the fundamental restructuring of three pillars of American society — health care, education and energy.

Then began the descent — when, more amazingly still, Obama devoted himself to turning these statist visions into legislative reality. First energy, with cap-and-trade, an unprecedented federal intrusion into American industry and commerce. It got through the House, with its Democratic majority and Supreme Soviet-style rules. But it will never get out of the Senate.

Then, the keystone: a health-care revolution in which the federal government will regulate in crushing detail one-sixth of the U.S. economy. By essentially abolishing medical underwriting (actuarially based risk assessment) and replacing it with government fiat, Obamacare turns the health insurance companies into utilities, their every significant move dictated by government regulators. The public option was a sideshow. As many on the right have long been arguing, and as the more astute on the left (such as The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki) understand, Obamacare is government health care by proxy, single-payer through a facade of nominally « private » insurers.

At first, health-care reform was sustained politically by Obama’s own popularity. But then gravity took hold, and Obamacare’s profound unpopularity dragged him down with it. After 29 speeches and a fortune in squandered political capital, it still will not sell.

The health-care drive is the most important reason Obama has sunk to 46 percent. But this reflects something larger. In the end, what matters is not the persona but the agenda. In a country where politics is fought between the 40-yard lines, Obama has insisted on pushing hard for the 30. And the American people — disorganized and unled but nonetheless agitated and mobilized — have put up a stout defense somewhere just left of midfield.

Ideas matter. Legislative proposals matter. Slick campaigns and dazzling speeches can work for a while, but the magic always wears off.

It’s inherently risky for any charismatic politician to legislate. To act is to choose and to choose is to disappoint the expectations of many who had poured their hopes into the empty vessel — of which candidate Obama was the greatest representative in recent American political history.

Obama did not just act, however. He acted ideologically. To his credit, Obama didn’t just come to Washington to be someone. Like Reagan, he came to Washington to do something — to introduce a powerful social democratic stream into America’s deeply and historically individualist polity.

Perhaps Obama thought he’d been sent to the White House to do just that. If so, he vastly over-read his mandate. His own electoral success — twinned with handy victories and large majorities in both houses of Congress — was a referendum on his predecessor’s governance and the post-Lehman financial collapse. It was not an endorsement of European-style social democracy.

Hence the resistance. Hence the fall. The system may not always work, but it does take its revenge.

Voir enfin:

Obama’s Approval Rating Dips to New Low
Kevin Hechtkopf
CBS
January 11, 2010

President Obama’s job approval rating has fallen to 46 percent, according to a new CBS News poll.

That rating is Mr. Obama’s lowest yet in CBS News polling, and the poll marks the first time his approval rating has fallen below the 50 percent mark. Forty-one percent now say they disapprove of Mr. Obama’s performance as president.

In last month’s CBS News poll, 50 percent of Americans approved of how the president was handling his job, while thirty-nine percent disapproved.

Analysis: The Irony Behind Obama’s Poll Numbers

Mr. Obama still receives strong support from Democrats (eight in ten approve of his performance), but his approval rating among Republicans is only 13 percent. More importantly, Mr. Obama’s approval rating among independents has declined 10 points in recent months – and it now stands at just 42 percent.

Domestic issues – and not his response to terrorist threats – appear to be driving the president’s approval rating downward.

Just 41 percent now approve of his handling of the economy, which Americans say is the nation’s most pressing issue. Forty-seven percent disapprove. The president’s marks on handling health care, with reforms still under debate in Congress, are even lower – just 36 percent approve, while 54 percent disapprove. Both of these approval ratings are the lowest of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

Meanwhile, both parties in Congress receive even lower marks than the president on handling health care. Few Americans think the reforms in Congress hit the right note on expanding coverage, lowering costs and regulating the health insurance industry. (Read more on the health care poll results)

The president receives slightly higher ratings for his handling of the war in Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism than on domestic issues. Forty-six percent approve of Mr. Obama’s handling of Afghanistan, and 52 percent approve of how he is handling the threat of terrorism.

While some Republicans have criticized the president and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano’s responses to the attempted Christmas Day terror attack, most Americans don’t share their opinion.

In the poll, 57 percent of Americans approve of the way the Obama administration has responded to the attempted attack, and 29 percent disapprove. Views are highly partisan – 75 percent of Democrats approve, while just 41 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of independents do.

More Findings from the Poll:

• Fear of another terrorist attack has increased since the attempted attack on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam on Christmas Day. Now, 26 percent think another attack on the United States within the next few months is very likely, up from 12 percent just before the latest incident. This is the highest percentage that has felt an attack was very likely since March 2003, just after the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

• While most Americans (56 percent) have at least a fair amount of confidence that the government will protect its citizens from future attacks, just 15 percent are very confident. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, more expressed confidence.

• Few Americans – just 19 percent – think U.S. intelligence agencies are doing all they could to monitor the actions of suspected terrorists. Seventy-six think they could be doing more.

• Most Americans support conducting full body scans on travelers using a digital x-ray machine, a device some airports are now using. Seventy-four percent agree these machines should be used because they provide a detailed check for hidden weapons and explosives and reduce the need for physical searches. Just 20 percent think these machines should not be used because they would produce an image of a passenger’s naked body and are an invasion of privacy.

• Over half of Americans think the U.S. should continue to keep the Guantanamo Bay prison open. Thirty-two percent think it ought to be closed and the prisoners there transferred somewhere else.

• The American public continues to volunteer the economy and jobs as the most important problem facing the country (44 percent), with health care a distant second (14 percent). In the wake of the attempted terror attack on Christmas Day, the percentage that cites terrorism as the most pressing issue has risen to seven percent from zero percent early last month.

• The public’s overall assessment of the condition of the national economy remains grim – 82 percent of Americans say the economy is in bad shape. Looking ahead, 31 percent of Americans think the economy is getting better, while 19 percent think it is getting worse. Forty-nine percent now say the economy is staying the same.

Voir aussi:
One year out: President Obama’s fall
Charles Krauthammer
The Washigton Post
January 15, 2010

What went wrong? A year ago, he was king of the world. Now President Obama’s approval rating, according to CBS, has dropped to 46 percent — and his disapproval rating is the highest ever recorded by Gallup at the beginning of an (elected) president’s second year.

A year ago, he was leader of a liberal ascendancy that would last 40 years (James Carville). A year ago, conservatism was dead (Sam Tanenhaus). Now the race to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in bluest of blue Massachusetts is surprisingly close, with a virtually unknown state senator bursting on the scene by turning the election into a mini-referendum on Obama and his agenda, most particularly health-care reform.

A year ago, Obama was the most charismatic politician on Earth. Today the thrill is gone, the doubts growing — even among erstwhile believers.

Liberals try to attribute Obama’s political decline to matters of style. He’s too cool, detached, uninvolved. He’s not tough, angry or aggressive enough with opponents. He’s contracted out too much of his agenda to Congress.

These stylistic and tactical complaints may be true, but they miss the major point: The reason for today’s vast discontent, presaged by spontaneous national Tea Party opposition, is not that Obama is too cool or compliant but that he’s too left.

It’s not about style; it’s about substance. About which Obama has been admirably candid. This out-of-nowhere, least-known of presidents dropped the veil most dramatically in the single most important political event of 2009, his Feb. 24 first address to Congress. With remarkable political honesty and courage, Obama unveiled the most radical (in American terms) ideological agenda since the New Deal: the fundamental restructuring of three pillars of American society — health care, education and energy.

Then began the descent — when, more amazingly still, Obama devoted himself to turning these statist visions into legislative reality. First energy, with cap-and-trade, an unprecedented federal intrusion into American industry and commerce. It got through the House, with its Democratic majority and Supreme Soviet-style rules. But it will never get out of the Senate.

Then, the keystone: a health-care revolution in which the federal government will regulate in crushing detail one-sixth of the U.S. economy. By essentially abolishing medical underwriting (actuarially based risk assessment) and replacing it with government fiat, Obamacare turns the health insurance companies into utilities, their every significant move dictated by government regulators. The public option was a sideshow. As many on the right have long been arguing, and as the more astute on the left (such as The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki) understand, Obamacare is government health care by proxy, single-payer through a facade of nominally « private » insurers.

At first, health-care reform was sustained politically by Obama’s own popularity. But then gravity took hold, and Obamacare’s profound unpopularity dragged him down with it. After 29 speeches and a fortune in squandered political capital, it still will not sell.

The health-care drive is the most important reason Obama has sunk to 46 percent. But this reflects something larger. In the end, what matters is not the persona but the agenda. In a country where politics is fought between the 40-yard lines, Obama has insisted on pushing hard for the 30. And the American people — disorganized and unled but nonetheless agitated and mobilized — have put up a stout defense somewhere just left of midfield.

Ideas matter. Legislative proposals matter. Slick campaigns and dazzling speeches can work for a while, but the magic always wears off.

It’s inherently risky for any charismatic politician to legislate. To act is to choose and to choose is to disappoint the expectations of many who had poured their hopes into the empty vessel — of which candidate Obama was the greatest representative in recent American political history.

Obama did not just act, however. He acted ideologically. To his credit, Obama didn’t just come to Washington to be someone. Like Reagan, he came to Washington to do something — to introduce a powerful social democratic stream into America’s deeply and historically individualist polity.

Perhaps Obama thought he’d been sent to the White House to do just that. If so, he vastly over-read his mandate. His own electoral success — twinned with handy victories and large majorities in both houses of Congress — was a referendum on his predecessor’s governance and the post-Lehman financial collapse. It was not an endorsement of European-style social democracy.

Hence the resistance. Hence the fall. The system may not always work, but it does take its revenge.

3 Responses to Obamania: Ni fleurs ni couronnes (It’s the lying, stupid!)

  1. […] l’heure, où, bilan catastrophique oblige, les thuriféraires du pire président qu’aient connu les Etats-Unis depuis […]

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  2. […] avoir toujours été … . A l’heure où, en chute libre dans les sondages après à peine une année, le Caméléon en chef se voit contraint de nous ressortir l’image du centriste à la Clinton […]

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  3. […] sur deux textes d’un des maitres à penser de l’Obamania, tout récemment décédé, du progressisme actuel où, derrière la même stigmatisation de […]

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