Our President: Hubris Humphrey
By Michael Di Domenico
Now that Scott Brown has beaten Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, is the progressive agenda being pushed by the Obama Administration over? If you listen to the political pundits, it is. The underlying basis for the theory is that, like President Bill Clinton after Democrat Congressional losses in 1994, President Obama will have no choice but to do as Clinton did and shift toward the center. Simple enough analysis, but it's dead wrong. There are two enormous differences between Clinton and Obama that will make that rudimentary analysis go awry.
Bill Clinton had an unquenchable need to be liked by everyone. He rode into Washington feeling the adoration of the left, but as things went sour in 1994, he readjusted for both political survival and to reignite that American love-in. He was a success in this regard. Even with the scandals, he left office in 2001 with very high approval ratings.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, a narcissist in his own right, cares more about one-sided adoration. He has run in circles that have reinforced the notion that heroes are those who enact big, or better yet, massive planks of the progressive agenda. The adoration he seeks is from the Saul Alinsky wing of American society. The rest of us don't matter to him, because he has absolutely no respect for our values. We are little more than the unwashed masses he's forced to deal with on his way to FDR, Woodrow Wilson-status among his peers.
Where Clinton was a triangulator, Obama's an ideologue. Where Clinton was an Ivy League, egghead student, Obama's an Ivy League, egghead professor and where Clinton thought his stuff didn't stink; Obama just knows he's The Chosen One.
The bottom line is that Clinton's core principles could be affected by the mood of the country. A changing tenor in the American public will just push Obama to find a new way to do the same thing. The language may change, but the goal will not.
This dovetails with the second big difference. In the nineties, the far left certainly had their share of power and victories, but unlike that era, the Democrat agenda is now a bus being driven solely by the extreme Left. The day after the Scott Brown election, Code Pink gathered outside the White House to protest Obama's lack of progress on the leftist agenda in his first year.
Adding to his quandary is that the leftist media is spinning, misinterpreting or are in flat-out denial in regard to what this election was really about. Within minutes of Martha Coakley's phone call concession to Scott Brown, on MSNBC Chris Matthews explained what he thought happened. He compared it to high school student counsel elections where the same people win for a while but then, somewhere around junior year, some "nerd" comes along and steals one. Donny Deutsch explained that Brown's election allowed people to feel comfortable again by voting for a white man. It's funny. I don't remember any of Ted Kennedy's endless string of victories being attributed to his white maleness.
This dismissive, erudite attitude trickles right on down to the hoi polloi. I just heard a story from a buddy of mine. It seems his brother was attending a high school reunion where he ran into an old friend who had moved to California and become a marine biologist. They exchanged numbers and agreed to get together. She soon called and the conversation was going just fine until he mentioned that he was watching his favorite show; Glenn Beck.
That was it. She was aghast and asked, "You're one of those," which, after a brief conversation, was followed by the suggestion that they probably shouldn't see each other. When it was over and he had time to rehash the conversation in his mind, he realized that her explanation for putting the kibosh on the get-together, which he'd glossed over in the quickly downward spiraling back-and-forth, was the most stunning line of the whole conversation. "I'm an educated person," she told him.
This is the way Leftists think. Conservatives have been told by the mainstream media and Hollywood that their problem is that they see things in terms that are too simple; black and white, good and evil. That's why leadership needs to be left to those sophisticated elites who see the shades of grey. But it's a lie. There is little that is less tolerant than a progressive, historically as well as right now.
Think of the man-made global warming issue for a moment. How many times have we been told over the last decade the debate is over? Of course, we've recently found out that the debate never really happened. In fact, the emails uncovered from East Anglia University last November show an appalling attempt to stifle debate. And while Al Gore has been available to fly around the world giving speeches and accepting prizes, he can't seem to find a single day in his busy schedule to debate Lord Monckton, a British politician and advisor, who has serious and fact-based problems with his stance. Why? Because Gore knows his complete lack of knowledge next to actual facts would make him look so stupid, he might be asked to join the cast of Jersey Shore next summer.
Attempting to win through the old "the debate is over" ploy is a classic. To the last few generations, Hubert Humphrey might be a name more closely associated with an airport or the Metrodome than with the man himself. However, like Al Gore, he's a former vice president who subsequently lost a presidential election.
Humphrey was Lyndon Johnson's running mate in 1964. During that election, Johnson's campaign ran what's become known as "The Daisy Girl" commercial. It only ran once, but is one of the most famous TV commercials in political history. In it, a little girl is pulling the petals off a flower while counting with each pluck. Suddenly, a disembodied voice begins an ominous countdown that ends with the detonation of a nuclear bomb. It was devastating and Johnson took all but six states from Republican Barry Goldwater.
So in 1968, Humphrey's campaign decided to turn back the clock to what worked just four years prior. His try at this shock advertising showed a nuclear bomb exploding, the mushroom cloud forming and then reversing on itself which was meant to imply that he could reverse nuclear proliferation. But the key is the tag line to the ad: Humphrey, there is no alternative. There it is. That was over 40 years ago and nothing's changed. The debate is over. There's only one choice. It's our way or the highway.
The Scott Brown election has left the progressive movement in total disarray. It was all too easy to promise the stars when they weren't responsible for delivery. Slogans like "Bush lied" and "culture of corruption" sounded great and sold plenty of books.
However, in charge of the House of Representatives since 2007, and fully in charge of both houses of Congress and the Oval Office for a year now, the excuses and the "buck stops over there" attitude is wearing thin. While many Americans have been suffering through the toughest financial time of their lives, the Democrats have been bribing everyone under the sun to pass legislation that the plurality of Americans doesn't want while virtually ignoring the ever-growing unemployment numbers. See, slogans are like sneakers. They're great for running on, but look inappropriate in the Oval Office.
The reality that this party couldn't deliver the morning paper, let alone the stars is exposing that, aside from Jim Zorn, the Democrats had the thinnest playbook in Washington last year. And with Zorn now fired by the Redskins, all eyes turn to the Democrats. Joking aside, what is the plan?
They told us the stimulus would keep unemployment below eight percent. Woops. They told us that replacing the cowboy attitude in the White House with a kindler, gentler approach would lead to better relationships around the world. Meanwhile, the Iranian theocracy is killing its own citizens and continuing to build their nuclear arsenal, Israel is on the verge of blowing them sky-high and Uncle Hugo Chavez has just blamed Washington for the Haitian earthquake. Holy Neville Chamberlain, Batman! That didn't work too well. Oh, and Mister President, we're still waiting for a budget, if it's not too much trouble.
By locking the Republicans out, Obama's alienated the entire right, even the lame ones like Olympia Snowe. And after showing up on the campaign trail for Creigh Deeds of Virginia, Jon Corzine of New Jersey and now Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, all of whom lost, the only thing he's increasing is his hazmat rating. If you're a Democrat trying to get re-elected this year in a state less blue than New Jersey or Massachusetts, which is almost all of them, it's a coin flip as to whether you want Obama or the Grim Reaper showing up on your front steps. Let's face it; the Left is all he has.
So don't expect that move to the center. In fact, if you hear overtures from the White House that make you think they will, don't believe them. Barack Obama is a zealot. His allegiance is to the progressive agenda and it'll never be to anything else. Expect more from the same, tired playbook, or rather leaflet. Expect the usual Bush and Cheney-bashing. It's losing effectiveness, but it's still better than talking about the economy and the completely absent plan for helping it. It's political prestidigitation. Look over there while I palm this double-digit unemployment.
Oh and, by the way, it turns out that in 1968, much to the chagrin of Hubert Humphrey, there was actually an alternative. Republican Richard Nixon stomped him by carrying 32 states. Did the progressives learn from that loss? No. They convinced themselves that Humphrey wasn't left enough and nominated George McGovern, a radical in 1972. The result: 49 states to 1 in favor of Nixon. And which was that one radical state? Massachusetts. Oh, how the times have changed.
The bottom line is that President Obama needs to be watched like a hawk until he's ushered out of the White House, hopefully in January, 2013. He told us that the problem with the New Deal was that FDR didn't go far enough. This is not a man who will earnestly move to the center. This progressive march knows only one direction; straight ahead. And no big losses like the 1968 and 1972 presidential elections or little losses like Ted Kennedy's Senate seat will halt their attempts to advance. Remember the words of Verbal Kint, from The Usual Suspects: The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. Stay vigilant America. Progressives are never more dangerous than when good people stop watching.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!