Obama probably isn’t looking back at the last 8 years with much joy. But he can look forward with a big smile and a happy heart. He has delivered the change he promised. And all he had to really “do” was simply exist. And persevere. His enemies did the rest.
Obama’s presidency will rank with Reagan’s – the start of an Era. The Republican Party is imploding. The political landscape is re-aligning. The center has NOT held. It is shifting left… Reagan marked a 30 year shift rightward. Obama will mark a 30 year shift leftward…
I go to thinking about this while reading a WSJ column blaming Obama for “the tone of today’s politics.” This is apparently a meme going around in the land-of-the-blind. It is, of course, a laughable effort to shift blame. Your classic 6 year old’s deflecting responsibility after acting out. “But he made me hit him!” But a grain of truth in there too.
Obama addled the Republican Party into implosion and ruin. A fairly moderate, cerebral, compromise minded black man in the White House was simply too much to bear. The Republican Party vomited out a torrent of purblind, vitriolic obstructionism in response. They are drowning in it now.
The Republican explicit, stated strategy was to de-legitimize Obama. The Kenyan, Muslim, Socialist would win no victories. Governing be damned. That has boomeranged badly. The Republicans didn’t just de-legitimize Obama. They de-legitimized the very idea of rational, responsible government (at least with their base). They de-legitimized their own governing class…
That is the implosion we are watching today. With horror, glee, or a bit of both – depending on where you stand. And the Republican Establishment is (sort’ve rightly) blaming Obama for deranging them into it. The wails of the damned – regretting their sins, but not (yet) repenting them.
Taking down a whole party. Through jiu-jitsu. That is is a pretty spectacular achievement for Obama. Albeit painful and frustrating. Especially as the next President (Hillary) will rack up most of the policy benefits (and the Supreme Court nominations). But it will still be Obama’s epoch…
PS: Still working on that riveting Monetary Velocity post. Its so hot I can’t bear to touch it!
PSS: Regarding “The Republican Establishment is (sort’ve rightly) blaming Obama for deranging them into self-immolation.” Lets take these one by one – A fairly moderate, cerebral, compromise minded black man in the White House was simply too much to bear….
- Moderate. Policy-wise, Obama is basically a early 90’s Republican. Outside of skin-tone, he would have blended just fine into George Bush the 1st’s cabinet. Heck, his healthcare plan is a straight Republican rip-off. But the Overton Window has shifted so far right that those same policies are now labeled “socialist.” The Republicans found themselves with no room to run further right.
- Cerebral. Obama typifies a certain type of arugula-eating, urban-dwelling, knowledge worker. Demographically, this is where America is going (or already is). But you don’t want to go there if your personal American archetype is still stuck in the Marlboro Man era. Cue the Budweiser commercial (and note that Bud sales are slipping while Craft beer is taking off).
- Compromise-minded: Its hard to get past the vitriol, but a lot of Obama’s policy efforts really were actually a reach across the aisle. Obamacare was (literally) a Republican-originated plan. More interesting (and symbolic) was his (failed) corporate overseas tax reform proposal. The (political) problem was that it WAS something a reasonable Republican could have supported. But it would have given Obama legitimacy. And the Republicans could not, would not legitimize this Presidency. Obama could have arguably sent in Romney’s policy papers and still been denied.
- Black Man: As much as the Republican Establishment can’t/won’t face it, this small matter of skin tone is/was something many in their base simply couldn’t/can’t bear. And it’s hard not to see that as partial cause of their own implacable effort to de-legitimize him. Remember that North Carolina Congressman’s shout of “You Lie” when Obama addressed Congress in 2009? That wasn’t about a policy disagreement… That ugliness is also a big reason more thoughtful people are now edging away from the Republican Party… Enough said on this point by me – others have unpacked it better than I could.