During the 2008 election, the media sold Obama on two key points, repairing the economy, and bringing new focus and ideas into the war in Afghanistan. As the summer of 2010 fades, it's painfully clear that Obama has failed completely in both areas.
The Democrats want to keep pushing the message that the problem with the economy is that the rich don't pay enough taxes. But that's not the problem with the economy, that's the problem with their spending bills. America isn't suffering from economic problems because the people who actually make money aren't forwarding it fast enough to Washington D.C. That's the problem that Washington D.C. politicians are suffering from. And they're not suffering very hard from it, because their approach is to just spend the money anyway, and turn it into debt for the next generation.
And the argument by Dem pols that the people who actually stimulate the economy need to send them more money, so they can spend it faster, isn't resonating too well with the general public. Americans may not be big fans of big banks, but they're not fans of big pols either-- and they know by now that it's the pols and the banks who joined hands in the bailout at their expense. Everything else is just theater. After multiple bailouts, the Democrats want to turn around and bash the same banks and companies they bailed out. And that plays about as well as two criminals turning on each other in police custody. "He was the one behind it!" "No it was all his idea."
Running on the bizarre crypto-economics of Enron advisor and liberal financial court jester Paul Krugman, the Obama Administration and the Democratic congress acted as if the mere act of government spending alone would revive the economy. The more the better. And it's hard to understand whether they actually believed this insanity, or were just pretending so they could spend unlimited amounts of money and possibly bankrupt America permanently in the bargain, ending economic freedom for good. After decades of mocking "Trickle Down Economics" and any notion that in hard times, it's the government that should cut back, they got the chance to put their economic policies into action and the state of the nation's economy is a disaster.
While the public was growing increasingly frustrated, the Democrats began ramming through more social services spending that they had no way of paying for. By acting like it was the depression all over again, they helped turn it into a depression. By selectively bailing out some companies, they rewarded failure and cronyism. And by building up the bureaucracy, they pushed states and small businesses deeper into debt, and entangled them in more layers of government bureaucracy and mandatory spending. Which is exactly the thing you don't do, if you don't want to destroy the economy.
By putting the boot down, state governments were forced to lash out at public sector unions. New Jersey Governor Christie became a national celebrity just by taking on teacher's unions. Democrats in conservative quickly scrambled to follow suit. Suddenly public worker pensions and compensation plans became a talking point. Those swollen salaries and compensation packages were red meat to be tossed to the public. And it turned out that the public even in Blue States was much more outraged about public employees pulling in six figure salaries, or getting paid for doing nothing, than they were about CEO salaries. It's not the way things were supposed to work in the liberal handbook, where it was enough to point Michael Moore's camera at a corporate CEO's golden parachute, and watch them be torn apart by the lions. But it's the way things work in real life, where people are outraged about their mandatory taxes, than about corporate compensation programs-- unless those compensation programs are paid for with their mandatory tax dollars.
Now the unions have turned on the Democrats, and are warning that they won't bother turning out for mid-term elections. Yet do they really believe that after ObamaCare's giveaway to SEIU helped nuke Obama's popularity, that Barry and this even more unpopular congress are going to be taking any more bullets for unions? But unions have been a core part of the Democratic strategy. Federal funding flowing to states and their public sector unions, has meant that taxpayer have essentially been spending untold billions on an election machine for the Democratic party. ObamaCare was supposed to be the next phase, dismantling private health care and turning it all into one big union shop. This would be a model for taking over any vulnerable industry, and turning it into a public utility. Socialism feeding an endless money tap flowing to Democratic politicians through compulsory donations from workers with no say in the matter, thanks to Card Check.
From ObamaCare and Card Check, to the stimulus plan-- the common denominator of Obama's domestic legislation has been to bulk up government, increase centralized control from Washington D.C. and spend, spend and spend on his own projects. His doubletalk has alienated independents and even the left. Meanwhile the right is re-energized and up in arms, a far cry from 2009, when mainstream media pundits were gleefully predicting the death of the Republican party. "It's the Spending, Stupid", has become the new rallying cry. The only possible defense against it, would be an actual economic recovery. But the best the media can do is peddle a fake economic recover that fools no one.
There's only so many ways Obama can spin failure, and he's lost badly on the economy. The attempts to refocus the public's attention on some other domestic issue, have only backfired. Americans back Arizona over Obama on illegal immigration. They're tired of the Obamas' endless celebrity tours, and they have a limited interest in Michelle Obama's arugula and caviar weight loss recipes. And that just leaves foreign affairs.
The problem with foreign affairs is that it requires capable crisis management. Obama and his backers have tried out a Great Celebrity Theory of History, in which endless foreign trips and televised speeches would lead to actual accomplishments on the ground. As it turned out, leadership doesn't work that way. You can't become a leader by reading things from a teleprompter in foreign countries. All that gets you is some media coverage. And eventually an image of impotence, Which is exactly what Obama has come out with, along with a Nobel Prize that even he couldn't credibly argue that he deserves.
During the election, we were sold the idea that Obama would bring a renewed focus to Afghanistan. As it turned out, Obama ignored Afghanistan, left the Bush Administration's policies in place, because he didn't have any actual ideas. This led to friction with McChrystal, and his eventual firing. Obama's deadline only emboldened the Taliban. His undermining of Karzai backfired spectacularly, forcing the administration to make nice. At the moment there is no policy on Afghanistan. None whatsoever.
The surge has faltered, weighed down by harsh Rules of Engagement that are supposed to win the hearts and minds of the locals, and by a lack of any deep support from the administration. There is no Afghan support worth speaking of, because unlike Iraq, Afghanistan never even had the trappings of a modern state. There are calls within the administration to cut a deal with the Taliban, other calls to pressure Pakistan or cut a deal with Iran. And the sum total of all these ideas is static and noise. And above all else, a sense of ineptness that the enemy is capitalizing on. Obama still wants a pullout, but without the negatives. And yet the recent Time Magazine cover of a woman mutilated recently by the Taliban, part of the uptick in Taliban atrocities, shows there will be a political cost for doing so.
Obama's Afghanistan policy has been a model of indecisiveness, refusing the instant pullout that the left wanted, and also avoiding the full scale commitment that made a difference in Iraq under Bush. And all that adds up to it is pain, suffering and more US military casualties. The inability to fully commit to an engagement is worse than not committing at all. Obama's approval for a half-hearted surge has not accomplished anything definitive, and the air of weakness that accompanied it has only emboldened the Taliban. US troops are operating under restrictions that are getting them killed, without actually dramatically transforming the attitudes of the locals.
Obama has failed miserably on both of his key areas. The economy is a disaster. So is Afghanistan. The 2010 elections won't fix that, but if the American people come out in force, it will help inhibit the fallout from his disastrous mismanagement of the United States government. Obama was given complete autonomy and decisive majorities in congress. He used them frivolously and greedily. His mismanagement of the country's domestic and foreign policies is both irredeemable and irresponsible. I said back in November 2008, that the key to winning is to hold Obama accountable for his failures. And now the day is drawing closer, when he will be held accountable for everything he has done and everything he has failed to do. There's only so many ways Obama can spin failure, before he gets tossed out with the rest of the dirty laundry.