The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Walter Russel Mead On Hypothetically
Un-jumping A Shark

Posted on | June 18, 2011 | 28 Comments

by Smitty

From “Can This Presidency Be Saved?”, emphasis mine:

President Obama still has a shot at convincing voters that the GOP would make things worse, but his administration has not just lost control over the direction of the economy. It has lost control of the discussion about the economy.

With a maximally bloody-minded view, precisely two stooges would render the above statement true. The effective question is whether sufficient voters can be duped into supporting the policy of failure, which has failed. This blog would like anyone who wishes to vote for BHO again to shout ‘Jehova’* once you have exited your polling place:

Why did the stimulus fail? What did the President learn from this failure and what will the President try next? The White House has been so busy bobbing and weaving it has not communicated a simple, clear story about what went wrong and what happens next.

The stimulus failed because capitalism is what succeeds. The administrations non-grasp of this simple truth, and systemic, willful refusal to revisit the false basis for its fundamental assertions, mark it and anyone benighted enough to support it as abject fools.

These and similar blunders have two things in common: they are unforced errors, and they undercut the President’s ability to present himself as a visionary leader who both understands where the country is headed and has a plan for meeting the obstacles in our path. He frequently appears surprised by events, and over time confidence in his leadership is leaking away.

What Mead calls ‘unforced errors’ are the simple fruit of false beliefs and assertions. The quack or snake oil salesman is only successful insofar as the steady supply of dupes continue to suspend disbelief. When was the last time a total fraud ever recovered? Can’t think of any.

Americans are realistic enough to understand that the breakdown of the blue social model is a messy process and that perhaps no president can deliver a pain free transition to the next stage. But what they aren’t hearing from President Obama is a compelling description of what has gone wrong, how it can be fixed, and how the policies he proposes will take us to the next level.

More fundamentally, Americans are realizing that to have ever expected such vaguely divine output from any human being or government is pure crap. Jig’s up, and it proved a mindless 4/4 disco beat anyway. Obama lacks the wisdom to grasp that his weltanschauung is false.

Mead concludes:

The longer the President fails to dominate the discussion about where this country is going the more his authority will erode. In the end, a failure to define the problem and outline a convincing solution will hurt more than what now appears his likely failure to regenerate healthy economic growth by the next election.

He may have only one chance to get this right. A failed attempt to define the problem and control the discussion would further fuzz the President’s image and reinforce the sense among many voters that the man is not up to the hour.

The Obama Presidency can still be saved, but only if the President becomes the kind of inspiring and effective leader these tough and uncertain times demand.

That is much, much harder than it looks.

No, he’s jumped the intellectual shark. Unfortunately, he’s still got to land, and will lay economic waste to the country while doing so. I hope he lives decades to come, and grows to realize the depth of the contempt people hold for his ideas.

*Update: As pointed out in the comments, the name English name for YVHV should likely end in an ‘h’. Even if somebody did register


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