One Year Later

I think my post from Inauguration Day one year ago holds up pretty well, though I caught a lot of grief for it at the time  [a few spelling errors fixed]

OK, I was really going to remain silent today, because no one seems to want to hear a rant about today's imperial coronation.  But as I sit here watching the press coverage and waiting for John the Baptist to show up, and as I observe the general cultish hysteria and the swooning of normally serious adult people, I just can't help myself.  For a libertarian like myself, its like watching people line up at 3am to be the first to be in the store when McDonald's switches its fountain drinks from Coke to Pepsi.   Heck, I was creeped out by the cult following of Ron Paul this year, a politician I agree with a lot, so I certainly am going to get the willies from the love-fest for an admitted statist like Obama.

I am not enough of a historian to speak for much more than the last thirty years, but the popularity of non-incumbent political candidates has typically been proportional to 1) their personal charisma and 2) our lack of knowledge of their exact proposals.  Seriously, can you name any other difference (on the plus side) between Obama and Hillary other than these two?  We forget, but GWB was the unknown newcomer in 1992.  As was Clinton and Carter.  Reagan was an exception, but was running against an incumbent who really had a terrible four years, and Bush I was an exception as well, though he was running against one of the weakest candidates and campaigns the Democrats have fielded in 50 years.  Folks are excited about Obama because, in essence, they don't know what he stands for, and thus can read into him anything they want.  Not since the breathless coverage of Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone's vault has there been so much attention to something where we had no idea of what was inside.  My bet is that the result with Obama will be the same as with the vault.

There is some sort of weird mass self-hypnosis going on, made even odder by the fact that a lot of people seem to know they are hypnotized, at least at some level.  I keep getting shushed as I make fun of friends' cult behavior watching the proceedings today, as if by jiggling someone's elbow too hard I might break the spell.  Never have I seen, in my lifetime, so much emotion invested in a politician we know nothing about.   I guess I am just missing some gene that makes the rest of humanity receptive to this kind of stuff, but just for a minute snap your fingers in front of your face and say "do I really expect a fundamentally different approach from a politician who won his spurs in "¦. Chicago?  Do I really think the ultimate political outsider is going to be the guy who bested everyone at their own game in the Chicago political machine?"

Well, the spell will probably take a while to break in the press, if it ever does "” Time Magazine is currently considering whether it would be possible to put Obama on the cover of all 52 issues this year "” but thoughtful people already on day 1 should have evidence that things are the same as they ever were, just with better PR.   For God sakes, as his first expenditure of political capital, Obama is pushing for a trillion dollar government spending bill that is basically one big pork-fest that might make even Ted Stevens blush, a hodge-podge of every wish-list of leftish lobbyists that has been building up for eight years.  I will be suitably thrilled if the Obama administration renounces some of the creeping executive power grabs of the last 16 years, but he has been oddly silent about this.  It seems that creeping executive power is a lot more worrisome when someone else is in power.

It has been suggested by some that today is less a cultish coronation but a big victory party in the battle against racism.  Well, I am certainly willing to accept it on those terms.  I have been arguing for years that it is time to declare victory on the worst aspects of race and gender discrimination, and move on to problems of interest to all races (like individual freedom or giving kids options to escape crappy public schools).   Unfortunately, I fear that too many folks in power are dependent on the race/gender/class wars continuing, so you and I may think we are declaring victory, but those with power over our lives have not.

  • Gary H

    Reading this brings back unpleasant memories. It is sort of like having one of those haunting flashbacks one has of a bad auto accident. You remember vividly how you could see the world spinning out of control as you were going off the road, and knew you were going to hit that tree..hard...but were helpless to do anything about it.

    Your observations a year ago were correct in every detail.

    The question now is whether we have hit the tree and are calling for a tow truck or still spinning out of control as we head for that tree??? Early feedback, so far, indicates that even Massachusetts has not been a teachable moment for Obama. He can still do a lot more damage in the next three years.

  • MJ

    Seriously, can you name any other difference (on the plus side) between Obama and Hillary other than these two?

    Yes, at least Obama had the good sense to ignore calls for a "gas tax holiday" during the summer of '08. That's about all I'll give him credit for.

    Hillary, on the other hand, was wrong and defiant on the issue, stating:

    "I'm not going to put my lot in with economists. I know that if we (Congress) did it right, if we actually did it right...if we had a president who used all the tools of the presidency, that we would design it in such a way that it would be implemented effectively."

    Or, as Warren has described it before: "If we just had the right people (our people) in place, we could make this thing work."

    Ah, the People's Romance...

  • Mesa Econoguy

    The utterances from the White House today reacting to the startling and scathing public rebuke of Obama’s socialist/fascist agenda indicate that this guy (actually, those guys: Axelrod, Emanuel, and Obama, et al.) don’t get it.

    This idiot thinks he really is doing God’s work, and he will do more damage.

    This moron is an embarrassment to the entire country.

  • Mesa Econoguy

    Take 2 (your web editor is censoring heavily, Coyote):

    The utterances from the White House today reacting to the startling and scathing public rebuke of Obama’s socialist/fascist agenda indicate that this guy (actually, those guys: Axelrod, Emanuel, and Obama, et al.) don’t get it.

    What an embarrassment.

  • Mesa Econoguy

    Take 3 (your web editor is censoring heavily, Coyote):

    Obama’s response to yesterday’s startling and scathing public rebuke to his socialist policies is: “Full speed ahead! What defeat?”

    This guy doesn’t (actually, those guys: Axelrod, Emanuel, and Obama, et al.) get it.

    Has anyone noticed that Obama is 0 for 3? Copenhagen Chicago Olympic bid, Corzine’s loss, and the Brown throttling of Coakley. That’s political kryptonite.

  • Dan

    Another big difference between Obama and Hillary: To Obama's credit, he came out solidly against a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning. Hillary tried to take both sides of the issue.

  • http://togetrichisglorious.blogspot.com Colin

    FWIW I put my own thoughts here, contrasting the words in Obama's speech with what has actually taken place:

    http://togetrichisglorious.blogspot.com/2010/01/inauguration-one-year-later.html

  • roger the shrubber

    oh, you ain't seen *nothing* yet. let us go back to january 20, 1977. carter had made it perfectly obvious to anyone with eyes and a brain that he was a drooling, grinning idiot bent on the downfall of the USA. americans everywhere - even in the media - were showing buyer's remorse. the guy had, in one short year, become the punchline to a thousand jokes. and this was BEFORE stagflation, gas lines, $2500 gold (in 2010 "dollars"), killer rabbits, the misery index, and him becoming iran's personal bitch.

    20 jan 1977 just meant he had 3 long long years to go. our long national nightmare has only just begun.

  • roger the shrubber

    197*8*, dammit. 20 jan 1978.

    no more long island teas at lunch anymore, i reckon. say, do those things have any *alcohol* in them?

  • Allen

    considering how much "de-regulation" went on under Carter's watch, I have a hard time beating him up too much. And, IIRC, much of the stagflation wasn't so much from his policies but from continuing previous bad ones. A dumb move but it really shouldn't all rest on him.

    As for BO, so far he hasn't shown much that makes me think he even has a clue as to how badly he's messing things up economically.

  • MJ

    Colin,

    That's a sobering reminder.

  • cnacs

    Nice victory lap. Thanks for sharing. Upon reading "My bet is that the result with Obama will be the same as with the vault" I snorted so hard my drink came out through my nose. Which is to say that reliving this observation was at once pleasant and unpleasant. IE, should I laugh or cry?

  • richard

    > I fear that too many folks in power are dependent on the race/gender/class wars continuing

    Yep.

  • Dan

    Roger,

    We don't need to go back 32 years to the Carter era to re-live our long national nightmare. Just 8 years ago it was Jan. 21, 2002, and we had seven more years to go of the incompetent Bush administration, with exploding debt, huge jumps in government spending, New Orleans being nearly wiped out, thousands of U.S. soldiers dying in wars, $4 a gallon gas, etc.

  • perlhaqr

    A year ago I woke up to the sound of an intoxicated, unlicensed (revoked for DWI), uninsured motorist zooming around the corner in front of my house, out of control, and annihilating my work truck which was parked on the street. That crash was the first sound I heard that day. It pretty well set the tone for how things to come.

  • roger the shrubber

    dan -

    oh look, another "bush is the devil, only dumber" argument. wow. don't hardly see any of *those* much. daddy always said arguing with a fool is a fool's errand, so i'll just merely wonder: carter didn't get "thousands of US soldiers killed in wars" because - carter being the limp-wristed reflexive appeaser he was - we weren't IN any wars in his tenure. we SHOULD have been - iran storming our embassy and holding our diplomats hostage is, by the tradition of thousands of years, an act of war.

    how'd your boy jimmuh do with that? did he handle the situation well? did he even manage to get the hostages back? or did iran wait until a MAN became president to release them? someone they feared enough to grudgingly respect?

  • me

    @roger

    Dear Roger, I hope that if you re-read your latest and Dan's previous comment, you will be able to see that Dan is not at all making the argument that Bush was Evil, or any more inept than Carter.*) The statements you accuse him of are figments of your imagination, which makes your quote about arguing with fools quite a bit ironic.

    My perspective on this is that both predominant political camps are so obsessed with getting one of their guys into power that they disregard the most important quality a leader should have - the ability to think. It's been a while since we've had a president who didn't make me cringe on a regular basis.

    ___
    *) Dan is pointing out that the bleating along the lines of "look how terribly that guy from the other party did" doesn't do much for constructive discourse by providing a symmetric example with a president from the other block. The point that the the Bush administration was a bloody and economically disastrous period (and to be explicit: just like other presidencies) is easily demonstrated by looking at total death toll and gdp and debt development.

  • Dan

    Thank you for defending me, Mr. Me.

    But I have to disagree with you about presidents and their supposed inability to think. Carter, though he was a terrible president, always struck me as someone who thought too much, which proved his downfall. The same may be true with Obama. He is obviously a thoughtful person, who sometimes takes too long to come to a decision because he spends so much time ruminating. Sometimes having a president like Bush II, who acts first and thinks later (if at all), is actually helpful, as it was after Sept. 11. But for the most part, the Republican presidents of my time (and the ones of the future, perhaps - I'm thinking Sarah Palin), seem far less thoughtful than most of the people I encounter on an everyday basis. Which says a lot about the party and the people who support it (nothing good, that is).

  • Dan

    Roger - do you really buy that bull about the Iranians fearing Reagan? Don't you realize they released the hostages on Jan. 20, 1981, solely to poke their finger in Carter's eye? And wasn't it under your guy, Bush II, that the Iranians made huge advances toward building a nuclear weapon? I guess he must not have scared them all that much.

  • roger the shrubber

    dan, it's clear you're just another DNC-talking points loon who'll spout off anything at all to defend a democrat. ANY democrat, even the execrable moron carter.

    since you're so evidently worried about nuclear proliferation amongst rogue nations, 2 questions, which i know you won't deign to answer.
    1) how was bush to stop iranian nuke expansion? hell, the moronic left was squealing like stuck pigs over the iraqi action, going so far as to proclaim the "surge" - otherwise known as the standard military doctrine known as "reinforcements" - "a failure" BEFORE any of them landed in-country. in that political atmosphere, what would you have had bush done to stop iran? since military action seems to give leftists the vapors and they have to take to their beds, that leaves only diplomatic choices. like those being utilized by our current president, the one who bows and scrapes to everyone he meets. how's that tactic working out so far?
    2) how exactly did north korea obtain their nuclear reactors? answer: a former president of the united states GAVE them to the norks, no strings attached. pretty frickin' moronic move, wasn't it? can you name the profoundly stupid, drooling, grinning, peanut-brained idiot who did that? dare you?

    don't get me wrong: bush 2, just like his daddy, was no prize. in fact, he was a disaster. still, he had to make a large enough response to 9-11 in order to A) make the world understand it's a mistake to anger the big dog and B) deter them from trying again. i'd say he did a fair-to-middling job at that. carter, OTOH, never did anything right, ever. when he finally blessedly shuffles his mortal coil off this earth and ends up in presidential valhalla, he'll be the pissboy: holding the bucket for the *real* presidents, fishing his meager tips out at the end of the day, sleeping on a cot in the cloakroom. and deservedly so. either that, or - considering his status as "worst president in american history" - they'll horsewhip him through the streets.

    those are happy thoughts. they make me *smile*. his one consolation will no doubt be the huge memorial statue kim jong il builds for him in pyongyang, hailing the "father of our nuclear arsenal".

  • Dan

    Roger,

    There was nothing Bush II could have done to keep Iran from developing nukes. I just said that to annoy you, because I so often hear Republicans whine about how Democratic presidents let terrible things happen in the world on their watch (as you implied, by saying the Iranians would have knuckled under had Reagan rather than Carter been in the White House).

    I'm not apologizing for Carter. He was a weak president. But a lot of bad stuff happened during his administration that wasn't his fault. Same for Bush. A weak president, but he can't be blamed for Iran getting nukes. But let's just make it clear that neither Dems nor Repubs can be blamed for all that's wrong in the world. Too often, Repub supporters give their presidents (Reagan) all the credit for the good and Dems (Carter) all the blame for the bad. I just wanted to see how you felt having the shoe on the other foot.