Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Why did the Democratic Party, and especially Barack Obama lose so badly in the last elections?

David Brooks has one theory:

President Obama has racked up some impressive foreign-policy accomplishments, but, domestically and politically, things are off the rails.

Perhaps Brooks was attempting humor, but which foreign policy accomplishments was he referring to?

George Friedman of Stratfor offers a more plausible analysis:

However, looking at the timing of his [Obama’s] decline, the only intruding event that might have had that impact was the rise of the Islamic State and a sense, even in his own party, that he did not have an effective response to it. … Obama appears to me to have fallen into the political abyss because after eight years he owned the war and appeared to have no grip on it.

Is there really any doubt that the picture of a floundering president stumbling across the world stage did great damage to him and to his party?

A pusillanimous president, in retreat around the world demoralizes the nation.

Looking at Obama’s failed presidency through the lens of foreign policy, Friedman suggests that Obama will bumble along, thus paving the way for a Republican successor:

Therefore, if we follow historical patterns, Obama will now proceed slowly and ineffectively to increase military operations in Syria and Iraq, while raising non-military pressure on Russia, or potentially initiating some low-level military activities in Ukraine. The actions will be designed to achieve a rapid negotiating process that will not happen. The presidency will shift to the other party, as it did with Truman, Johnson and George W. Bush. Thus, if patterns hold true, the Republicans will retake the presidency.

From the standpoint of domestic politics, Brooks arrives at a similar conclusion.

Brooks is now in despair over Obama’s reaction to defeat. In many ways he is right to be discouraged by Obama’s dysfunctional presidency… one that Brooks himself had, in the time, supported.

Instead of reaching out to Republicans and trying to get things done, Obama seems to want a direct confrontation, a dialectical conflict between opposing forces. Perhaps he learned, while studying liberation theology, that a conflict between thesis and antithesis would naturally produce a synthesis.

Brooks believes him to be wrong. I agree.

In Brooks’s words:

Usually presidents with a new Congressional majority try to figure out if there is anything that the two branches can do together. The governing Republicans have a strong incentive to pass legislation. The obvious thing is to start out with the easiest things, if only to show that Washington can function on some elemental level.

But the White House has not privately engaged with Congress on the legislative areas where there could be agreement. Instead, the president has been superaggressive on the one topic sure to blow everything up: the executive order to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws.

Obviously, the move would produce more heat than light. Brooks continues:

Republicans would rightly take it as a calculated insult and yet more political ineptitude. Everybody would go into warfare mode. We’ll get two more years of dysfunction that will further arouse public disgust and antigovernment fervor (making a Republican presidency more likely).

Brooks tries to explain why a politically inept administration, an administration that does not know how to govern, continues to be inept. For all I know Obama is doing what he knows how to do, neither more nor less.

He writes:

Maybe various people in the White House are angry in defeat and want to show that they can be as obstructionist as anyone. Maybe, in moments of stress, they are only really sensitive to criticism from the left flank. Maybe it’s Gruberism: the belief that everybody else is slightly dumber and less well-motivated than oneself and, therefore, politics is more about manipulation than conversation.

I vote for Gruberism, a felicitous coinage.

After all, this is why Obama has not been able to govern. He has believed, as an article of faith that he and his academics know better than everyone else and that they are right to impose their will on the rest of the populace, beginning with the Republican Party.

Foreign leaders have long known that it was a bluff. Now the American public seems to have caught on.

It’s less about conversation and negotiation, and more about manipulation.


Anonymous said...

Weapons of Mass Deception

Sam L. said...

Well, how often have we read that "Obama is the smartest on in the room"? And do we believe that? No, but we believe that Barry believes it. Gruber's just doing the best Obama impression that he can.

Say, Stu, the text to type has an umlauted o. I won't look up how to do that, though I'm sure there's a way.

Dennis said...

This is the problem of "experts" and the belief that there is an equivalence between the years of education and the amount of intelligence. Education does not determine intelligence. It only provides tools with which to aid either building or destroying.
The idea that those who have a PhD should be running a country is specious at best. Gruberisms are what happen when credentials become more important that actual accomplishments and people begin that they really are better than other people by virtue of education.
Each of us has meet people who may be rural in nature and have the wisdom that all the money and education cannot buy. Conversely we have meet a significant number in academe that make the term "educated idiot" a compliment. It is what one does with life that is important and not what one amasses as titles.
Gruber may be right in the context of the fact that most of the people around him voted for Obama not once, but twice, which could give the idea that voters are stupid. That would be an indication of the company one keeps and an unfamiliarity with large segment of the population. I have to give him credit for knowing his audience.

Dennis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dennis said...

"to believe"
Sorry about that, but the smallish area in which to comment, and spell checker, sometimes does not give one the complete view of what meant to write.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

"Obama lied, people lost their health insurance."

Too bad it doesn't rhyme. I guess rhymes are necessary to manipulate the "stupid Amerocan."