Victor Davis Hanson: So What's Next for the President?





[Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.]

The Problem. Obama succeeded in getting elected where other Northern liberals like McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, and Kerry had failed because of a perfect storm of events: the novelty of our first African-American serious presidential candidate; Obama’s teleprompted rhetorical gifts and charisma; Obama’s misleading moderate and centrist proclamations; the inept McCain campaign; the September 2008 meltdown; Bush’s Iraq; and the first orphaned election without an incumbent since 1952. Take any of those criteria away, and he would probably have lost.

But instead of accepting that flukish reality, in hubristic fashion Obama either figured his singular divine powers won us over or a national yearning for neo-socialism had spread among a majority of Americans — or probably both.

So rather than being a Clinton in 1995 and moving to the center, curbing debt, working with centrist congressional Democrats, or praising the opposition in the no more red/blue state fashion of yesteryear, he went the hard left route and quickly alienated the country.

The Solution. We are now told there is a Carter/Clinton choice for the president: persist in Carterism and 2012 follows the losses of 2010. Or change, and get reelected on some updated form of school uniforms, space exploration, more cops, an end to big government, no more welfare, balanced budgets, or a Republican shut-down of government.

But the latter would require Obama to be Clinton, and quite simply he is not — either by skill, experience, temperament, or volition. He is petulant and angry at us for not appreciating his genius and divinity. We in the 70% who oppose his sermons are the proverbial Pennsylvania clingers who can’t figure out Ground Zero, Arizona, or the Skip Gates mess. We forgot we killed thousands at Hiroshima, killed off native Americans, and were mean to Muslims. We are a nation of greedy fats cats on the wrong side of the new $250,000 Mason-Dixon income divide.

A savior like Obama comes around once in a century. If we cannot see that we are blessed with a Mandela-like laureate, then let us lose our souls. We shall sink into reactionary irrelevance; he shall trump the Bill Clinton lucrative post-presidency.

Sort of at least. He will also for the next thirty years parrot a Carter on 60 Minutes assuring us how awful were his successors, how brilliant his unappreciated record was, and how illiberal and dense we remain — as he jets from Indonesia to Paris on missions of world peace from a corporate and Middle East funded Obama Peace Center.

The Prognosis. There is only one mystery left. Will the Republicans screw it up? Or do they have the courage and skill to tell the American people that the mega-deficits and entitlements are our road to serfdom? Or, in contrast, will they return to 2004-6 and gorge the beast while talking of how it could be much worse without them?

I have no idea.


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