Commentators (including this one) are shaking their heads over President Obama’s amazin’ campaign for re-election, which is now in full cry. (I say amazin’ because droppin’ his g’s is part of Da Big O’s ordinary-guy persona – his way of showin’ that a millionaire Harvard grad who has never done a hard day’s work in his life is really Joe Lunchbucket’s natural paisan.)
But the dropped g’s are not the really amazin’ part. What is truly remarkable is Mr. Obama’s (how else to say it?) audacity in running for re-election on a record as poor as the one he has compiled. You have to hand it to the guy – it takes a lot of chutzpah to do that.
On the other hand, Mr. Obama isn’t really running on his record at all. He is standing like Horatius at the Bridge against the evil Republicans – running (again) on promises of how good things will be if only the Congress (i.e., the Republicans) will pass his “jobs” bill and let it work its magic on our economy. He understandably makes no reference to the $900 billion “stimulus” of 2009 (which mostly propped up big-spending state and local governments), or to his failed “green jobs” program (of which bankrupt Solyndra is a recent poster-child), or to his disastrous banking and oil-industry regulations, or to Obamacare (now rarely mentioned, and never by Mr. Obama) whose bills are now coming due.
A visitor from Mars could readily conclude that all these things were done by some unknown agent who has now disappeared. ‘Stick with me,’ The One tells his devoted followers. ‘I’ll put things right, if only the Republicans will cooperate and not block me.’
Mr. Obama’s Jobs Bill – a new $450 billion orgy of spending on “shovel-ready jobs” (say, haven’t we heard that before?) – is the latest point of political contention. Mr. Obama has been furiously running around the country holding up a printed copy of the legislation and declaiming, “Pass this bill!” while accusing Republicans of blocking recovery by refusing to put the bill to a vote. A significant segment of the public, including many media people, seems to be buying Mr. Obama’s claim on this.
There is a small problem however: the facts. Republicans are not blocking a vote on the bill. That honor goes to Senate Democrats. Republican leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly asked for a vote on the bill in the Senate, but Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused, knowing that he doesn’t have enough votes from his own party to pass it. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama charges madly onward, like some modern-day Paul Revere sounding the alarm. It is all part of his amazin’ campaign shtick.
Can’t the public see through all this? Maybe. But H. L. Mencken once wrote, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” And Abe Lincoln said, “…you can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.” Mr. Obama seems to be gambling on fooling enough of the people long enough to win re-election, despite a moribund economy that makes even his own partisans run screaming from the room.
Mr. Obama has been widely depicted as the most intelligent man ever to sit in the Oval Office. (Some of his more slavering acolytes say he might be the smartest man who ever lived.) I decline to concede either claim, but let us stipulate, for argument’s sake, that Mr. Obama is a man of reasonable – perhaps even exceptional – intelligence. I ask you – would such a man run for re-election to the nation’s highest office on a campaign that even a ten-year-old could see through? Surely not, unless part of his shtick is showing that he can do everything the hard way and still prevail.
From here, it looks like the only thing that can save Mr. Obama is a radically improved economy with employment dramatically increased, gas prices back down to reasonable levels, and renewed confidence in his leadership. The likelihood of that happening I leave to the estimation of others more qualified than I. But nothing in the policies of his administration suggests a turnaround in the next year.
Other “shoes” could drop, however, that might save Mr. Obama at the 11th hour. I see two possibilities. One is War. This would not be some dustup in a far-away country that the public barely knows about, but a real, explosive attack on our country that constitutes a true military emergency. Something like the attacks of 9/11/2001 would qualify: e.g., a terrorist atomic bomb exploded within our borders, or an electronic attack on our communications network. In such a circumstance, the country would naturally rally round the president and his government. All political differences would be (temporarily) forgotten, just as they were after the 9-11 attacks. Coming any time within the year leading up to the election, a serious war would almost certainly guarantee Mr. Obama’s re-election. I won't go any farther off the deep end on this, except to note that Mr. Obama does hold some influence over events that could cause a war.
A second possibility seems so absurd that I hesitate to mention it. Verily, I would not do so, except that others have mentioned it first. (Full disclosure: I am a charter member of the Grassy Knoll Society of Confirmed Conspiracy Theorists.)
Long ago, back in the early 1970s, the favorite target of Gary Trudeau’s comic strip, Doonesbury, was the man liberals loved to hate: Richard Nixon. One strip showed a reporter yelling to a colleague, “Hey Joe! This just in – Nixon’s going to have himself crowned king on Christmas Day!” (Or something to that effect.) Of course, it was all tongue-in-cheek. Liberals routinely accused Nixon of planning to round up blacks and Jews or suspend elections. Maybe a few crazies actually believed it, but I’m sure most didn’t. In the liberal lexicon, Republicans were always closet Nazis. (That may still be true.)
Thomas Jefferson once said (concerning slavery): “Like a fire-bell in the night, it awoke me and filled me with terror.” Last week, a different fire-bell sounded when Bev Perdue, Democrat governor of North Carolina, suggested publicly that elections should be suspended for two years so Congress could concentrate on jobs, free of political accountability. Aides tried desperately to spin the governor’s outrageous comment by claiming that she was employing “hyperbole” to make a point. But her remarks were caught on tape; the guv was clearly not joking. She had simply let slip a dark thought of the kind Richard Nixon always stood accused of.
Do Democrats think like this, now that the political streams are no longer flowing their way and their control of the government seems threatened? What about the president? Could he possibly have suspension of elections in mind when he keeps mentioning the “crisis” the country faces? Several internet writers think so. So does talk-jock Rush Limbaugh. More than one writer has suggested that Mr. Obama might declare martial law and suspend the 2012 elections by executive order. It’s a scary thought, which seems very unlikely to me. Nevertheless, forewarned is forearmed.
In 2008, Mr. Obama declared that he would “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” He has already done some pretty radical things, including ignoring a judge’s ruling that declared his executive order stopping gulf oil drilling to be illegal. The president clearly has the tenacity and the temperament to take an illegal action, hunker down under the storm of protest, and ride out the storm. This is not an incidental character flaw, such as belching loudly in polite company. It is a very serious leadership flaw - one that would have been good to know about before he was elected.
Could Mr. Obama get away with suspending the elections? I don’t know. But ask yourself: how could he be stopped? We live in amazin’ times.