Thursday, November 14, 2013

Laughing About Obamacare

Given how little they have had to cheer about of late, one can certainly understand why so many Republicans are overjoyed to be sitting on the sidelines watching the Obama presidency crash and burn.

It was bad enough that Republicans had run two hapless candidates in the last two presidential elections. But, with their tactically questionable effort to shut down the government as a protest against Obamacare they had lost a great deal of their remaining credibility.

The 2012 election was a triumph for Barack Obama and the American left.  Democrats maintained a tight-fisted control over the United States Senate. Mainstream media outlets alternated between cheerleading for the administration and running its propaganda.

Liberals felt that they were on the winning team. They were convinced that they had caught the historical wave. Smug, supercilious Democrats were convinced that their time had come. They looked down at their conservative opponents with sneering contempt.

Republicans looked like they were stalled, eating the Democratic party’s dust. They did not have a leader; they did not have an issue. Media types were chock-a-block with stories about the great Republican crackup.

Democrats became victims to a kind of mania. They were convinced that they alone possessed the truth, that they alone were the arbiters of what was right and good. Think Paul Krugman, that monument to intellectual arrogance.

It brings to mind a line from Euripides: “Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”

Is the kind of self-confident and maniacal hubris that has come to infect the minds of American leftists a form of madness? Surely, it is, though not in the clinical sense.

First among equals in this category was Barack Obama. How did the gods make him mad? They made him believe his own press. As Michael Goodwin recently argued in The New York Post, those who cheerlead for Obama—in particular, the New York Times—are doing him and the nation a disservice.

By persuading Obama that he can do no wrong they are inducing him into grievous errors. They lure him into believing that he is so great, so wonderful, so perfect and so competent that nothing can go wrong.

The result: when something does go radically wrong he is slow to notice and even slower to figure out what to do about it.

Jonah Goldberg (via Maggie's Farmsuggests that Obama has come to believe that he is a god:

All that Zeus needs to do to make something happen is to say it. When Barack Obama says things, reality doesn’t bend to his will. Somehow, Barack Obama has been led to believe that his job is simply to go out and say things, as if saying things alone could change facts on the ground. So while I’m sure he thinks he sounded like the voice of eternal truth, in reality he sounded like the infomercial spokesman played by Chevy Chase in the old Saturday Night Live skit…

Obama embodies the hubris of the American left. Goldberg describes it well:

The hubris of our ocean-commanding commander-in-chief surely isn’t news to readers of this website. He’s said that he’s smarter and better than everyone who works for him. His wife informed us that he has “brought us out of the dark and into the light” and that he would fix our broken souls. The man defined sin itself as “being out of alignment with my values.” We may be the ones we’ve been waiting for, but at the same time, everyone has been waiting for him. Or as he put it in 2007, “Every place is Barack Obama country once Barack Obama’s been there.”

In his column on “Obamacare Schadenfreude” Goldberg compared our president to Narcissus, the youth who drowned in his own image. The analogy does not quite hold. Unlike Obama, Narcissus did not fall from a great height. Thus, his story does not qualify him as an Aristotelian tragic hero.

Unfortunately, in the case of Obamacare, the president’s calamity is also the nation’s calamity:

It is no laughing matter that millions of Americans’ lives have been thrown into anxious chaos as they lose their health insurance, their doctors, their money, or all three. Nor is it particularly amusing to think of the incredible waste of time and tax dollars that has gone into Obamacare’s construction. And the still-unfolding violence that this misbegotten legislation will visit on the economy and our liberties is not funny either. 

Then again, if Obamacare was setting the nation on the road to socialism, then perhaps it will wake America up to the reality of government incompetence. That should be worth a grin or two. Not a self-satisfied grin, but a feeling of relief for having dodged a greater disaster.

It’s not good to laugh as someone’s misfortune. It’s not good to laugh at someone’s tragic fall. Yet, if those whose stars are rapidly descending used their great power to lord it over everyone else, to shower their opponents with contempt and to insist that they had a monopoly of wisdom and the right feelings, their victims do have a right to feel some cheer at their misfortune.

More so because the calamity of Obamacare, as Goldberg makes clear, was an unforced error. It was not an act of God; it did not have Republican fingerprints over it. It was a moment where American liberalism got to do what it wanted as it wanted.

Republicans tried to stop the train from careening off the cliff, but there was nothing they could do. Democratic politicians and pundits taxed them with impotence: It’s the law. Get over it.

Chalk those up as famous last words.

Goldberg says:

If you can’t take some joy, some modicum of relief and mirth, in the unprecedentedly spectacular beclowning of the president, his administration, its enablers, and, to no small degree, liberalism itself, then you need to ask yourself why you’re following politics in the first place.
The best part is to watch smug, supercilious liberals eat large helpings of crow over Obamacare. Apparently, their much vaunted intellectual superiority was as much a mirage as Barack Obama’s perfection.

In Goldberg’s words:

For years we’ve been told that Democrats were more “reality-based,” that “facts have a liberal bias,” in the words of Paul Krugman, and that if they could just have their way, they could fix all of our problems. No one represented this arrogant promise more than Barack Obama himself. But, with an irony so rich it would be made of Corinthian leather if it was a car seat, the only way he could get his signature legislation passed was to baldly and brazenly lie about it, over and over and over again. He created a rhetorical cloud castle where no one would lose his insurance, every family would save thousands of dollars, and millions of the uninsured would suddenly get coverage. Anyone who doubted this was called a fool or a liar, or even a racist. 

Some might believe that Republicans should be above-it-all and maintain a saintly insouciance in the face of so large a catastrophe. But, why? Would Democrats exercise the same charity if the program had been a rousing success:

Goldberg writes:

If Obamacare had been a shining success from Day One, do you think the Democrats would be in the mood to share the credit? Then why should Republicans be in more of a mood to share the blame?

Of course, we must mention the usual caveat. Those on the right who are all misty-eyed with schadenfreude today should not get too carried away. No one knows what tomorrow will bring, and Republicans are not exactly chock-a-block with credible leaders.

After all, among those still defending Obamacare are the architects of Romneycare.


Milo Galt said...

"In his column on “Obamacare Schadenfreude” Goldberg compared our president to Narcissus, the youth who drowned in his own image. The analogy does not quite hold. Unlike Obama, Narcissus did not fall from a great height. Thus, his story does not qualify him as an Aristotelian tragic hero."

Firing up the Waring blender and tossing in a handful of metaphors:

He's most like a hybrid, Narcissicarus, who is falling into a bottomless well from ground level. He was sure that he would be vindicated as he soared to the truth, but the truth has melted his wings, and now he drowns as he sinks deeper into the well, the pressure increasing as he descends toward crush depth.

Sad that the country is being dragged down with him, but reality couldn't happen to a more deserving creature.

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