Not Your Ronald Reagan's Transformation

Posted: Jan 06, 2014 12:01 AM
Not Your Ronald Reagan's Transformation

Barack Obama famously aspired to be a historically consequential president like Ronald Reagan, a leader to alter America’s course and change its politics. Five years in, it’s clear he’s transforming some things but won’t claim the ultimate prize he sought.

Obama has debased and coarsened his presidency--and national politics--to match the Chicago street fighting of the community organizer he was. It’s too soon to know whether the changes he wrought are permanent, but they won’t be easily reversed. The destiny that will elude Obama, however, is to become an icon revered by his party, fondly remembered by Americans, and grudgingly honored and imitated by his opponents.

Orwell advised it takes constant effort to see what’s right in front of our nose. In the midst of things, it’s easy to miss the remarkable changes Obama has wrought.

Obama dazzled America into tolerating, then accepting a president unbound by the duty to obey or uphold the law.

The president exploits every crisis he faces as an opportunity to ignore the law and make up what he wants to do. After BP’s disastrous Gulf spill, you might think the most powerful, rich, and enduring Republic in history had an adequate framework of environmental law, remediation, enforcement, and civil justice to address the problem. Obama didn’t think that. He demanded BP post a $20 billion bond for civil compensation, appointed a czar to distribute the ransom, and improvised from there.

When General Motors and Chrysler crawled cup-handed to Washington for life-support, you might suppose the biggest, richest economy on the globe had commercial and bankruptcy laws adequate to sort things out. Not Obama. In addition to taking ownership of two auto companies, he trashed volumes of law, gutted secured claims, and grasped billions in equity from company owners as gifts for union auto workers.

It’s not accidental the Senate didn’t pass a budget for Obama’s entire first term. The President conspired with Harry Reid to pass “continuing resolutions’ and capture the “emergency” bail out expenditure—20% of the total--and lock in a permanent, massive expansion of the budget.

At least the financial crisis, oil spill, and auto crash gave plausible cover of emergency circumstances. But, Obama’s implementation of his own namesake initiative elevates lawlessness to an art form.

The striking thing about how Obama approaches Obamacare is not just how comfortable he is ignoring plain statutory requirements he forced on the nation, but, how adamantly he opposes Congress amending the law to authorize the ways he wants to change it. Over the last several months, Obama has announced delays or suspensions of just about every critical cog in the wheel: The employer mandate; Small business web registration; Deadlines for people to subscribe; And now, big, ambiguous chunks of the individual mandate. The law is putty in his hands.

Apparently the law needs tweaks. But, every time congressional Republicans offer to amend Obamacare to bless Obama’s revisions, he blusters and threatens a veto. It is truly surreal…unless you grasp the idea he believes congressional involvement is illegitimate. The Transformer should be able to do what he pleases, and the Constitution’s First Branch should butt out.

Obama has exalted government’s role in controlling, distributing, and redistributing wealth, far above any concern for creating wealth or encouraging growth and opportunity.

This president was always about state redistribution as society’s highest value. The signs were clear to everyone but the national journalist protecting their dream boy and his creased pants. From his Communist upbringing, to his days as a community organizer, to telling Joe the Plumber we’ll be better off spreading the wealth around, to telling ABC’s Charlie Gibson that tax policy is less about maximizing revenue than about imposing fairness on society, to his re-election channeling of Elizabeth Warren: “You didn’t build that. Someone else made that happen.”

This man has never taken a capital risk; he has no understanding of those who have, and he holds in contempt the ones who made good and got richer than others. He believes prosperity flows from the actions of the public sector.

He governs accordingly. Every move has been to seize and steer wealth, without a thought to how it is created.

Obama has numbed Americans into accepting a federal government that lawlessly bullies and intimidates its critics.

The depredations of the IRS no longer shock us. A week or two of headline revelations followed by plodding congressional hearings, and dodging by culpable officials who invoke protections from criminal liability, and the issue turned stale.

Americans now live tolerating the idea that federal tax collectors take names and unleash vengeance on opponents of the expanding state. Big media barely notices. Social media reporting of the sordid oppressions has at best an ambiguous, ironic effect. Critics think: “This tyrant is being exposed.” But, more importantly, other victims observe and conclude they don’t want to be the next target.

This administration’s bullies know what they’re doing. Who cares about a few bad headlines in alternative media? The same headlines will chill others who could complain, but don’t need the hassle.

And it’s not just the IRS. Labor, EPA, DOJ, all have been reported knocking on the door of critics of this president. Nixon would be jealous of what Obama has accomplished with the levers of state intimidation.

Obama has shown the national media will not hold a liberal president accountable; the Big Pens and Big Hairs are shameless boosters of Democrats.

The appalling thing about this expanding tyranny is the media’s hostility to frankly covering what is happening. Whether it’s illegally funneling guns to Mexican gang lords, billions of dollars to cronies with green schemes, blatant lies about incompetently neglecting security for an embassy in a global hot spot, or an utterly miserable economic record, the scribes see and report no evil.

There are a few exceptions that prove the rule. The Big Pens and Big Hairs were moved to notice spying on all Americans, including the media, particularly the AP, and they were compelled to notice that tens of millions of our neighbors are being kicked off cancelled healthplans that the president solemnly promised they could keep—almost 40 times.

So, if the president targets reporters themselves, or kick millions of people off their insurance, there might be some stories. But the scribes still are giving cover to the administration’s lie that only a handful of self-employed workers in the individual market are affected. Millions more in the larger corporate workplace will be displaced next year. But the media is keeping that under wraps. It will be sardonically amusing to see what feigned surprise the scribes muster next year when the bomb hits.

The media hides and minimizes whatever it can, and grudgingly reports what it can’t.

Obama’s nasty personal politics and the disastrous launch of health care will forever keep him from assuming iconic status; Democrats will never pine to find “the next Obama.”

The disastrous roll out of Obamacare has made it temporarily acceptable to notice Obama’s flaws, his arrogance, and his bullying. Americans are realizing his “likability” was a big media lie all along.

Obama’s plummeting approval ratings will block fevered talk of a spot on Mt. Rushmore. Democrats will never treat him as a Reagan, fondly hoping for “the next Obama.” But there’s an irony, too. This president has profoundly changed our politics. He has shifted power from the private sector to the public sector. He has shown what an audacious president can get away with. He has proved that America’s media will resist reporting on liberal failure. These changes will be hard to reverse. Presidents of both parties will study what Obama was able to impose.

Still, what he’s done conflicts with America’s culture and traditions, it’s DNA, so Obama’s paid a price in popularity and national esteem. In history, Obama will be less loved and admired than Reagan, but he might still be more lastingly consequential.