TYRRELL: The god that failed
The Democrats are about to be beaten by something they do not in their heart of hearts think exists - a huge national majority. At this late hour, with the storm clouds gathering and the livestock getting restless, they see only sunshine. Yes, there is “foreign money” out there. Yes, the media have bungled broadcasting the purity of the Democratic message. And naturally, angry voices can be heard. Yet surely there is no majority gathering to unseat the party of decency and good deeds. Well, there is, and it is nothing like the Democrats describe it.
That majority is amiable, sensible and believes in limited government. It is convinced that we face a catastrophic budget crisis and that measures must be taken against the spending and on behalf of growth. Furthermore, many of these friendly Americans would be delighted to give our president a ride home if they found him on a street corner, though they would be a lot happier if he did not live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. They doubt he would ask them in for a drink. After all, to him they do not exist.
Many of these people are Tea Partiers. They certainly do exist. Yet they are nothing like the Democrats believe them to be. They are not angry and warlike. They are concerned about what the Democrats have done these past months, but they will retire them the old-fashioned way - through the ballot box.
Our president has a difficult time conceiving of this growing majority that opposes him. Apparently, in May, President Obama invited a group of presidential historians to the White House to discuss history and inform him of any historic movements comparable to the Tea Party movement in all of American history. The historians told him what he wanted to hear. As Peter Baker wrote in the New York Times Magazine, the president wanted to know whether there were “precedents for this sort of backlash against the establishment. What sparked them and how did they shape American politics.” Reportedly, the historians spoke of the Know-Nothings of the 1850s, the Populists of the 1890s and the Coughlinites of the 1930s. Thus our president was reassured. They were racists and fruitcakes. He heard nothing to challenge his smug sense of history.
Yet, once again, he was misinformed by his experts. Michael Barone speaks more accurately of the historic precursors to the Tea Party movement. He says voters concerned about limited government and federal spending were forming a prodigious movement toward the end of the 1930s. The movement in his mind might have successfully challenged President Franklin D. Roosevelt by 1940, but the rising threat of Nazism intervened. Doubtless there have been other precursors to the Tea Party movement - for instance, the original Tea Partiers back in Colonial Boston. The truth is there has been a tug between big centralized government and local government since the founding of the republic.
Reading the piece by Mr. Baker was an odd experience. It talked about a president who in less than two years has lost the trust of the American people, especially independents. It quoted soaring rhetoric from Mr. Obama in June 2008, when he said, “We will be able to look back and tell or children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet [the whole planet!] began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.” After that, there will be nothing to do, so we can all play golf or read a good book.
There also was this: “Obama’s team takes pride that he has fulfilled three of the five major promises he laid out as pillars of his ‘new foundation’ … health care, education reform, and financial regulation.” So what? Education reform is a nullity. Ten years from now, test scores will still be in the drink. As for the other monstrosities, they are a large part of the Obama disaster. The growing majority that is about to retire Mr. Obama’s Democratic majority in the House and possibly in the Senate knows this. The ruling class, including Mr. Baker, seems to be oblivious to it, but the rest of the nation knows it.
Socialism is another of the gods that have failed. If you balk at my use of the word socialism, how about if I say liberalism is another of the gods that have failed? What is astonishing is precisely how extreme the liberalism practiced by Mr. Obama and the Democrats has been. Well, it has failed. The liberals show no hint that they realize this, but the American majority does. Now that majority has to deal with the mess we are in. As for the liberals, they have to explain why they are summarily leaving office.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is the founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is “After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery” (Thomas Nelson, 2010).
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