The President’s “End Game” shows he got no game

Democrats, leftists, activists, trade unionists: we’ve all been enablers.

We had a variety of excuses. The economy constrained his choices. The right would savage him if he deviated from the proscribed “war on terror.” He had to make deals with powerful money interests if we were to have even the smallest health care reform. The time wasn’t right for immigration reform. The president was just being “realistic” on education issues. The Bush Tax Cut extension was just for a short period. We had to let his thinking “evolve” on issues of human rights. Really, deep down he was one of us. He’s just bad at negotiating. The bully pulpit is not his style. He can’t act like an angry black man, that would play into stereotypes. Class warfare is not his style.

Well, after the Deal, we will either have to face reality or give up our illusions once and for all. And they were always illusions. We knew from the beginning where he was headed. It was apparent when he picked his economic team. Essentially the same people who put together TARP. It’s not that the economy constrained him. (It didn’t “constrain” FDR.) It’s his imagination that constrained him. The President is fundamentally a timid man with shallow education in matters of policy and history. And he has little intellectual curiosity. We mistook the insight his books had into himself as analysis. The Right was closer to the mark when they said it was narcissism. His inability to empathize is troubling. His inability to gauge the motivations, strategies and potential moves of others is fatal for a politician. He maneuvered a very slim corridor where only television looks and personality were important. Fortunately for him, since the 1970s the Democratic Party has systematically dismantled the safeguards it had in place to ensure that a seasoned statesman was its candidate. It was as though the experience of Adlai Stevenson and George McGovern that the problem was principle. So they adopted the strategy of the Republicans: political style over substance. The result was Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and, fatally for the Democratic Party, Barack Obama.

The strange characteristic of Obama is that he is persistently conservative. It’s not just that he can’t lead. He can’t even follow public opinion. So he always finds comfort in being to the right of what the public wants. It’s the perfection of the Clinton triangulation. It allows him to go to his donors (big donors are always to the right of the party’s center anyway) and even if he is to the right of them, he can (and does) say: Who you gonna call?

His campaign rhetoric had us so fooled that it took us a long time before we admitted to ourselves what we had done. But now there can’t be any more self-deception. Representative John Conyers crystallized everything we knew but refused to admit to ourselves: “[T]he Republicans, the Speaker Boehner or Majority Leader Cantor did not call for Social Security cuts in the budget deal – the president of the United States called for that … ”

And so, gentle reader, the course is clear. Instead of putting any effort into re-electing the President, we must invest it into building a liberal-leftist infrastructure. And even if we are too exhausted and beaten down at this point to take to the streets or organize or give money, the answer is not in re-electing this President. It’s time we stop fooling ourselves with the mantra the lesser of two evils. Because a Democrat who is willing to hand over the crown jewels is not the lesser of two evils. Remember it was Bill Clinton that ended welfare after re-election. God knows what Barack Obama will do if he is given the chance. He tried to give away Social Security in his first term.

Democrats always looked at the nomination of Barry Goldwater as the disaster they intended never to emulate. We must be moderate, they always cautioned. And then McGovern was nominated, and they realized they  had to manage the nomination. Eventually, (despite the disaster of Jimmy Carter) these wise men formed a group, the DLC, to take over the party. It was designed to ensure that a conservative would always be the nominee or at least the guiding force. As a result we have been “guided” by realists like Bill Clinton, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln and numerous others whose lack of dedication to anything other than short-term expediency dooms them to a quick exit from the public mind and disregard by history. An extremist would doom our Party! they constantly clamor. Meanwhile, the Republicans, far from rejecting Goldwater, rededicated themselves to making lasting change, rather than short-term victory. As a result, their Party is far to the right of where Barry Goldwater ever was. And because the “leaders” who counseled moderation and compromise are in charge of the Democrats, that Party is constantly moving to the right.

Ask yourself: Is Barack Obama to the left of Richard Nixon? Think about their positions on progressive income tax, environmental regulation, economic activism, fighting poverty, powers of the President, civil liberties. Not their rhetoric, their actual decisions.

Yes, I know, Michele Bachmann will be “worse.” She might suggest cutting Social Security! She might want to extend the Bush tax cuts! She might say the President has the right to assassinate an American citizen. She might say that using drones is not “hostilities” for the War Powers Act. She might keep Gitmo open. She may fail to promote immigration reform. She may do nothing on greenhouse emissions.

She’d be much worse.

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