The Off-Year Elections and the Politics of the Obvious

Posted: Nov 05, 2009 12:01 AM

WASHINGTON -- What strikes me about politics over the past couple of years is how obvious it all has been. In 2008, as the junior senator from Illinois campaigned across the country, demonstrating his gifts as a motivational speaker and community organizer, all one had to do was review his recent life to know that he was about to bring down on the country -- ever so incompetently -- the most left-wing government in American history. And so he has -- with the utmost incompetence. Think of the paucity of swine flu vaccine, in large part the consequence of his government's meddling with production.

As I say, it was all so obvious. No president in modern times has come to power with less political experience or less managerial experience. On the other hand, no president has come to power with a clearer record of political extremism. As senator, Barack Obama had the most left-wing voting record in the Senate, brief as his record was. Back in Illinois, he had a record of associations with extremists that would have sunk any other presidential candidate. Think of his friendship with Bill Ayers -- a co-founder of the Weather Underground, which actually bombed public buildings in the 1960s. Think of Obama's attendance, week after week, at religious services during which the Rev. Jeremiah Wright thundered forth with diatribes lilting with such lines as "God damn America." The radical direction of the Obama presidency was foreordained.

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As for this week's electoral setbacks for Obama, they, too, were obviously in the cards. The economy is wobbling out of a recession that it should have been emerging from months ago. Yet how could it, with business utterly bemused by the Democrats' plans for the future? Small businesses, the source of most job expansion, are not hiring, and they are unlikely to when faced with the staggering debt that the Democrats have built up, the entrepreneurs' awareness of the entitlement crisis facing the country, and their apprehensions over how they are going to fund health insurance for their present employees once the Democrats have saddled them with the trillion-dollar health care monstrosity. Right now, the economic future facing the country is stagnation or perhaps 1970s stagflation.

With that in mind, was it not obvious that the Democrats would be routed this election year? The loss of the governorship in Virginia was not supposed to happen, according to liberals a year ago. The Prophet Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, spoke of Virginia as part of a "permanent Democratic majority." In New Jersey, Gov. Jon Corzine -- with his vast fortune and elite Democratic connections and a huge Democratic margin in the voting rolls -- was seen as an easy win. But then the economy did what one would expect a weak economy to do when faced with unprecedented peacetime spending and onerous new taxation. It sputtered. Next came another obvious development: The electorate put the economy at the top of its list of concerns.

Solidly Democratic New Jersey and "purple" Virginia voted for Republicans. In New Jersey, 89 percent of the citizenry was worried primarily about the economy. In Virginia, the figure was 85 percent. Reportedly, the president did not stay up to watch the returns. I can understand why. He has not a clue as to how to solve his underlying economic problems other than resort to motivational speaking and community organizing. That will not get the economy growing again -- and his dark murmurings about Wall Street will only hurt his fundraising. Something like 60 percent of Wall Street's political donations regularly go to the Democrats.

The enormous debt that the Democrats have burdened this economy with will not disappear over the next several years. Of late, it is nice to hear that the president is worried about that debt, but he has not a clue as to how to reduce it. His only answer is to tax the rich. Yet as The Wall Street Journal pointed out this week, "If Congress had confiscated 100 percent of the taxable income of people earning over $500,000 in the boom year of 2006, it would have only raised $1.3 trillion." And in the years that followed, these rich people would claim less income, and the federal debt would resume its growth. The answer to our financial problem is to cut federal spending and to cut federal taxes. That is how we got the economy going in the 1980s, and it grew for a generation. The answer is growth, but when the president hears that word, he thinks of government growth. That, too, is obvious.