The Other McCain

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

Yet Another Failure by Rick Perry (And Notes on the Carter-ization of Obama)

Posted on | September 7, 2011 | 13 Comments

“The simplest way to define conservatism is this: The belief that liberalism is wrong.”
Robert Stacy McCain, June 15, 2009

The Texas governor has failed to eradicate the few remaining “pockets” of Democrat Party “enthusiasm” in the Lone Star State, according to liberal Matthew Yglesias of Think Progress:

I’m prepared to say that I was surprised to discover substantial pockets of enthusiasm for President Obama among the population of Texas. Not Austin hipsters, either. Decent grownup family people. White southerners with accents, even. Frustrated, to be sure, with the overall situation but also alarmed by the extremism of a Michelle Bachmann and generally inclined to see today’s problems as part of the Bush legacy. If I were to generalize from the sample of people I happened to discuss national politics with, I’d say that Rick Perry is in a surprising amount of trouble in his home state.

Via Maggie’s Notebook, who provides a map to help Texas Republicans locate and wipe out the few remaining Democratic bastions:

What inspired this outbreak of silliness was a Washington Post column by Richard Cohen:

Over the Labor Day weekend, I went to a number of events in the Hamptons. At all of them, Obama was discussed. At none of them — that’s none — was he defended. That was remarkable. After all, sitting around various lunch and dinner tables were mostly Democrats. Not only that, some of them had been vociferous Obama supporters, giving time and money to his election effort. They were all disillusioned.
Let me call the roll. I am talking about are writers and editors, lawyers and shrinks, Wall Street tycoons and freelance photographers, hedge funders and academics, run-of-the-mill Democrats and Democratic activists. They were all politically sophisticated, and just a year ago some of them were still vociferous Obama supporters. No more.

What does this mean? Yglesias wants us to believe it means nothing, that Cohen is just over-generalizing based on a small sample of anecdotal contacts. But I would argue that what Cohen is seeing, and what Yglesias doesn’t want to see, is evidence of the Carter-ization of Obama.

Yglesias is too young to remember exactly how and why Jimmy Carter’s presidency failed. After eight years of GOP control of the White House, liberals in 1976 very much wanted to see a Democratic presidency succeed. And when Carter’s policies quickly proved unpopular, liberals blamed Carter personally.

This personalization of blame was to some extent legitimate. Behind his trademark toothy smile and his soft-spoken “trust me” rhetoric, Carter was a very thin-skinned and arrogant man. The staff he brought with him to the White House — Jody Powell, Ham Jordan, et al. — seemed to have the idea they could push around senior Democrats in Congress. Grumbles about the political incompetence of the Carter administration were heard long before the failure of Carter’s policies became apparent. Another factor in liberals scapegoating Carter, however, was their refusal to recognize how Carter’s failures represented a failure of liberalism, per se.

Liberals believe that liberalism is right. They believe that liberal policies should be both successful and popular.

So when the Carter administration proved to be a policy disaster, and when that disaster led to political unpopularity for Democrats — the party that defines the meaning and embodies the spirit of liberalism in America — liberals were faced with a choice: Admit the failures of liberalism, or find an explanatory excuse.

The scapegoating of Carter was the convenient excuse that permitted liberals to avoid confronting the evidence that liberalism had failed.

As such, it was a continuation of the excuse-making that had attended the collapse of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society consensus in the 1960s. Liberals offered numerous excuses for LBJ’s failures, claiming for example that Johnson’s policy of “escalation” in Vietnam represented an abandonment, rather than a continuation, of JFK’s policies. Liberals used the Vietnam debacle to assert that LBJ wasn’t really a liberal, and portrayed the implosion of the Democratic coalition under Johnson as entirely a product of anti-war sentiment.

Yet LBJ had been a liberal his entire political career. His policies, both foreign and domestic, were formulated by liberal advisors and endorsed by liberals in Congress. When LBJ failed, however, the failure was attributed to LBJ and not to liberalism.

So, too, with Carter and so now with Obama, as Richard Cohen observes:

The Hamptons are a redoubt of New York liberalism. . . . I expected more than a few people to defend the president. No one did. Everyone — and I do mean everyone — expressed disappointment in him as a leader. In that area, they thought he was a bust. Some articulated detailed critiques — the nature of his stimulus program, for instance. They argued that more money should have gone into long-term infrastructure programs. Most, though, skipped the details and just registered dismay: Where had their “change” agent gone?
In general, Obama was faulted for lacking political skills.

See? It is a lack of “political skills” — a failure attributed to Obama personally — that liberals identify as an excuse, rather than daring to think the unthinkable: Obama is failing because liberalism doesn’t work.

They can’t allow themselves to think that, because if they did, they wouldn’t be liberals anymore.


13 Responses to “Yet Another Failure by Rick Perry (And Notes on the Carter-ization of Obama)”

  1. McGehee
    September 7th, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

    How ironic to see the left throw Obama under his own bus.

  2. CalMark
    September 7th, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

    I have personal experience with Blue Texas.

    I had just gotten off active duty in 2002, when Bexar County (San Antonio) tried to stop me from voting.  My registration had been mysteriously cancelled after 7 years of regular voting, including some local elections. 

    The Bexar County Clerk (or someone claiming to be)  told me on the phone, “All active duty military Republican registrations were cancelled on January 22, 2001.”  She was laughing as she said this.  (An historically traumatic event for Democrats occurred on Saturday, January 20, 2001–you may remember it.) 

    It took the threat of a lawsuit to get a ballot.  Er, well, a sort-of  ballot.  It was covered with small folds, rips, pen and pencil marks.  In other words, spoiled.  Alas, it came too late (imagine that!) to ask for a fresh one.

  3. JeffS
    September 7th, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

    “…help Texas Republicans locate and wipe out the few remaining Democratic bastions.”

    On behalf of Jimmy Hoffa and his army of union thugs, assorted Democratic members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Vice President Joe Biden, and President Barack H. Obama (not to mention all of those leftie activists drawing wages as Federal employees), you are hereby denounced as a violent tea bagging RAAAAACIST!! rich person supporting conservative H8R. 

  4. Adjoran
    September 7th, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

    So Yglesias criticizes and refudiates Cohen’s Hamptons tales as anecdotal with his own anecdotes about Texas.  One has to wonder which prisons he visited, as any free person would swiftly cross the street to avoid contact with a filthy miscreant like Yglesias.

    Again, people are taking extreme risks with their mental health in reading Cohen and especially Yglesias, both of whom have been proven in clinical studies of their fan bases to have a destructive effect on the central nervous system. 

    It’s the rough equivalent of drinking grain alcohol while taking LSD, without the good times you can’t remember.

  5. Christy Waters
    September 7th, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

    Fascinating how many border counties are blue, considering Perry’s soft stance on the immigration issue…political ploy, perhaps?

    Just as the full scope of Carter’s failure wasn’t realized until it was put up against the success of Reagan, so too, it may be with Obama. I just pray…Oh Lord, I pray…that we can replace this SCOAMF with a good, free-market conservative in 2012, or we’re screwed. My vote’s going to Herman Cain.

    Even so, can you imagine the relief that Carter must feel knowing that he no longer bears the mantle of the worst POTUS in the history of the republic?

  6. Shawn Gillogly
    September 7th, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

    The Blue Border counties should tell us the truth. No matter how soft on immigration we get, those who have interest in open borders will always support the left.

  7. DYSPEPSIA GENERATION » Blog Archive » Notes on the Carter-ization of Obama
    September 7th, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

    […] The Other McCain is having entirely too much fun. Yglesias is too young to remember exactly how and why Jimmy Carter’s presidency failed. After eight years of GOP control of the White House, liberals in 1976 very much wanted to see a Democratic presidency succeed. And when Carter’s policies quickly proved unpopular, liberals blamed Carter personally. Liberals believe that liberalism is right. They believe that liberal policies should be both successful and popular. […]

  8. Maggiesnotebook
    September 7th, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

    Thanks so much Stacy for the link. I have an artist friend (amazing sculptor) who lives in Montana. He has has several very Liberal artist friends all over the the Southwest, including Texas and Oklahoma. He says all them – very, very Liberal – are over Obama. 

  9. Rich Vail
    September 7th, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

    A very interesting take.  I believe that you’re right.  I grew up in the ’70’s and I DO remember the grumbling that occured amongst the Dem “elites” in DC.  The subtle twist news stories took…etc.  This very thing is beginning to occur now with Mr. Obama…prominent Liberals (Cohen, Kotkin, etc.) are beginning to slip the cultural “assassins blade” into Mr. Obama’s back…

    Rich Vail
    Pikesville, Maryland
    The Vail Spot dot Blogspot dot Com

  10. Rich Vail
    September 7th, 2011 @ 10:38 pm

    Perhaps you should have found an attorney…

  11. Anonymous
    September 7th, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

    I can assure you reading Cohen and Yglesias is far worse for mental health than drinking while taking LSD.

  12. Anonymous
    September 7th, 2011 @ 10:42 pm


  13. Bob Belvedere
    September 8th, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

    Adobe’s right…I think [I’ll have to wait ’till the next flashback].