The Other McCain

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

The Avoidance of Responsibility: Liberals Exculpate Themselves for Obama’s Failure

Posted on | September 21, 2011 | 15 Comments

Nothing is more important to liberals than avoiding responsiblity for the failures of liberalism, and the debacle that is the Obama administration thus requires extraordinary efforts at blameshifting and scapegoating. Fortunately for liberals, there is Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men, a new book that tells them what they want to hear.

You can read Dave Weigel’s “Where It All Went Wrong” and David Graham’s “9 Juicy Bits from Ron Suskind’s Book” and see how Confidence Men permits liberals to admit that Obama is a stuttering clusterf–k of a miserable failure without having to admit that liberalism has failed.

The key scene in the book, according to both Weigel and Graham, is when Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) denounces the president’s economic team, shouting at Obama: “You’ve picked the wrong people. I don’t understand how you could do this. You’ve picked the wrong people!”

What did Dorgan mean by this? Graham cites a passage where one attendee at meetings of the president’s National Economic Council tells Suskind: “Each morning at the economic briefing it was like we were debating Krugman.”

That is to say, the left wing and the far-left wing of Obama’s economic team were divided,. the more radical among them agreeing with Paul Krugman that the 2009 “stimulus” was too small. There was apparently no one in the Obama White House who expressed any skepticism toward the Keynesian theory behind the $800 billion stimulus. It was, instead, a debate between Larry Summers and his moderate Keynesian allies, on the one hand, and the Krugman-influenced advocates of a more aggresive Keynesianism.

Summers won this struggle, at least in the short term, and thus emerges as one of the villains of Suskind’s book, so that liberals reading Confidence Men may therefore believe that Obama’s failure vindicates Krugman and other far-left critics of the administration’s economic policy.

What we are likely to get from the liberals, then, is an explanatory narrative much like the one that prevailed circa 2003-05, when repeated Democratic electoral and legislative defeats were explained as resulting from timidity on the part of Democrats.

“We need to fight, fight, fight!” was the cry of the DKos crowd during the mid-Bush years, and this Fightin’ Liberal mentality is apt to dominate conversations on the Left during the 2012 campaign season. We have already seen the administration/re-election campaing rolling out this combative posture, first in Obama’s Sept. 8 jobs speech — “Pass this bill right away!” — and then in Monday’s budget speech — “pay their fair share!”

As silly as this Fightin’ Liberal act seems to conservatives, who see it for the hokey political show-biz stunt it is, Obama’s partisan bully-boy act is just the sort of populist gesturing that we might expect from Democrats who think they’ve failed because they weren’t liberal enough. And that’s the only explanation of Obama’s failure that liberals can accept.

Many conservative commentators have enjoyed the unflattering portrait that Suskind’s book provides of the Obama administration as a place where there are “no adults in charge,” and where the president himself is clearly unready for the managerial tasks of the office. But while this view vindicates conservatives who warned in 2008 that Obama’s background did not prepare him for the presidency — he had no previous executive experience — it nonetheless isolates Obama the man as the source of the failure, rather than the liberal philosophy that controlled Obama’s administration.

Just as liberals never blamed liberalism for the failures of Lyndon Johnson or Jimmy Carter, so also will liberals insist that Obama’s political failures be attributed to something other than his liberal policies.

The Dream is dead — long live The Dream!


15 Responses to “The Avoidance of Responsibility: Liberals Exculpate Themselves for Obama’s Failure”

  1. Heretic «
    September 21st, 2011 @ 7:42 am

    […] noted that the Left would complain that Obama wasn’t liberal enough. And they were right. The Other McCain has more on that very issue in a post about a new book by Ron Suskind on the Obama Administration called Confidence Men: Many […]

  2. Bob Belvedere
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

    Well put.

    One quibble: I think the word ‘Leftist’ should be substituted for ‘liberal’ because it better explains that these people are part of the Marxist / Communist / Socialist / Fascist / Fabian Universe.  As we all know, ‘liberal’ is a word the Left hijacked when the term ‘Progressive’ became a dirty one.

    Let’s call a spade a spade [somebody, please denounce me for my raaaaacism to Attack-Watch.Orwell!].

  3. McGehee
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

    Leftist doesn’t do these clowns justice either. Call them proglodytes.

  4. Steven
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

    Portraying this disaster as a matter of choosing the wrong people – instead of the wrong principles – is the philosophy behind David Brooks’ stupid Op Ed yesterday, in which he admits to being a sap for supporting – not leftism, but Obama. 
    This must be the latest strategy: sacrifice the man to distract attention away from the failed principles.

  5. JeffS
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

    Just so, Steven.  And, naturally, the cognitive dissonance is deafening:  if you support the man, you inherently support his principles.

    As for the latest strategy……that’s not so current.  Obama has been practicing it since he assumed office.

  6. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

    Copperheads: treasonous and pro-slavery.

  7. Leslie Eastman
    September 21st, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

    In a related subject:  HillBuzz has a graphic essay that is spot-on; it is essential reading! The subject is Obama and his Presidential umbrella.   Your “WTF?” Moment of the Day: Obama And His Slaves.

  8. Bob Belvedere
    September 21st, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

    A wise mans heart is at his right hand: but a fooles heart at his left.

  9. Adjoran
    September 21st, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

    Of course they want to blame Obama personally, although the simple fact is that their policies have been tried in various countries around the world for a century and have never worked.

    So even if Obama weren’t an incompetent buffoon in the pocket of the unions, as long as he adopted the same policies, he would fail miserably.

    Leftists will never admit this, of course.  Maybe the American people will eventually catch on that the promises of Wilson, FDR, LBJ, and BHO are empty, and always have been.

  10. ThePaganTemple
    September 21st, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

    HaHa that’s exactly why I use that phrase.

  11. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

    The faith in the progressive vision is why it is possible that Obama will not be the nominee in 2012. It is easier to throw a person overboard than the vision, and the disaster of this administration is so vast that something or someone needs to be blamed.

  12. ThePaganTemple
    September 21st, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

    If we were smart, we’d hold off criticizing Obama until the general election and in the meantime let the American people watch in amazement while he and his “team” dig d deeper and deeper hole. Who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll fire Geithner and replace him at Treasury with Krugman. Then we could all have fun making sport of such a boneheaded move.

  13. Christy Waters
    September 21st, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

    Libs: Keeping people living in squalor for over 40 years.

  14. JeffS
    September 21st, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

    If you count their first cousins (and you should), the communists, it’s over 90 years.

  15. DaveO
    September 21st, 2011 @ 11:38 pm

    Jihadis think in the same manner. The failures of their country, tribe, of Islam itself is a matter of the Jihadi personally failing for not being faithful enough. Then s/he straps on a bomb to rectify the situation.

    Dems don’t strap on bombs, yet. They do fight, wheedle and lie to raise taxes. It has the same effect as a bomb in a market – average citizens no longer engage in the economy.