How Now, President O?
I won’t be the first to point out that Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts was unthinkable (see his Ford truck above). On Intrade, he was trading at a 9% probability of victory a mere two weeks before the election. And even when the polls swung decisively in his direction, it was widely thought that the Democrat machine in Massachusetts would take care of business. They weren’t able to, of course, with my own theory being they were totally out of practice.
It’s likely no secret that I think a check on Democrat power is a good thing, but what amazes me is how quick the corruption cycle was. Normally, when a new party comes to town, there’s a certain period – multiple years? – when ideals trump cynicism. Inevitably, though, cynicism wins as the Beltway culture corrupts those who hang around too long. This is what had happened to Republicans by the middle part of the aughts, and they paid dearly for it. But Obama had barely figured out where the White House hoops court was when the earmarks, the back room deals, and a blatant disregard for the vox populi were taken to heretofore unseen heights, aided of course by trusty henchmen (hench people?), Reid and Pelosi.
The backlash started last spring and has been growing in ferocity ever since. The Great Political Question of 2010 is, will Obama pull a Bill Clinton – i.e. stage a Dick Morris-style tack to the center – or soldier on fearlessly with his statist agenda? The former could presage a remarkable political comeback, and the latter would almost assuredly result in Republicans recapturing the House and perhaps even the Senate.
My own theory is that neither Obama, nor anyone he has surrounded himself with, has any experience with anything else. None of them has ever spent time around conservative thought. It doesn’t compute for them. Virtually no one in the upper reaches of the White House has ever worked in the private sector, let alone started any kind of business. None understands capital formation, and its necessary preconditions. They don’t have the frame of reference or even the vocabulary to engage with those outside their own, campus-delimited, philosophical precincts.
There were those, a year and a half ago, who thought it was a reasonable exercise to explore Obama’s background and associations in order to get a better understanding of the man. Certain things came to light – Reverend Wright, most notably – but generally, we were told it was impolite (i.e. racist) to make such inquiries. (Mind you, we were told this while a legion of reporters scoured every corner of Wasilla, Alaska.)
Bill Clinton, he of the South and serious policy wonkage, knew conservatives and understood them. He was the kind of guy who could have won a high school debate arguing either side of an issue. When his day of reckoning came – the 1994 Republican takeover of the House – he was up to the task of seeking a middle ground. Some excellent policy, such as welfare reform, was the result.
But what we know of Obama’s life suggests that he has lived it in a bubble of leftist thought; Columbia, Harvard, the Trinity Church, Chicago ward politics…this is not a man equipped with Bill Clinton’s political dexterity. Unless he fires everyone around him and gets some very different advice, I see this shaping up to be a very contentious year with Republicans back in power by year’s end.