Jimmy Carter is redeemed. The grinning dunce of yesteryear, who grew into the anile doddering figure of today lecturing the civilized on all manner of statecraft, has been replaced by the saturnine gaunt prophet, Barack Obama. His sorry performance these past four years he lays to the administration of George W. Bush. The next four years will be a replay of the last four years, and an even graver crisis will confront us then with the domestic economy in a funk and foreign potentates all laughing at us.
The Prophet Obama has demonstrated that you can preside over a wobbly economy and be re-elected. Apparently, it is not “the economy, stupid,” as James Carville told us. You can suffer a foreign policy disaster in the midst of a campaign and it will be ignored. Jimmy could have been re-elected in 1980 if it were not for the miracle of Ronald Reagan. Had the Republicans nominated a perfectly nice man, say a successful businessman who earned a fortune as large as John F. Kennedy or Franklin D. Roosevelt inherited, Jimmy would have won re-election, the economy would have continued to founder in stagflation and he would have been sending helicopters out into the desert to be destroyed. Possibly, he would have been sending the fleet to be destroyed.
Our president has offered us nothing during this campaign that is different from the past four years. This is amazing. He promises trillion-dollar debt for as far as the eye can see. The debt will be $20 trillion and still climbing when he leaves office. Then it will be someone else’s problem. Yet President Obama will not be inert. He will raise taxes and other costs on the rich. It will not affect the deficits much. It will slow growth. He will be delivering on his message to the embittered in his coalition that he has made the rich pay more, the rich that already pay 59 percent of the income tax. He will institutionalize the portion of the gross domestic product that the federal government accounts for at some 25 percent. The norm prior to his arrival at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. had been closer to 18 percent. He is bringing the efficiencies of the U.S. Postal Service to mainstream American life.
Michael Barone, writing in the Washington Examiner, says America is now “two countries, not on speaking terms.” He writes, “One America tends to be traditionally religious, personally charitable, appreciative of entrepreneurs and suspicious of government. The other tends to be secular or only mildly religious, less charitable on average, skeptical of business and supportive of government as an instrument to advance liberal causes.” This was an election that pitted these two cultures against one another.
There is another element that I would factor into Mr. Barone’s calculation. The second America is rampant with hypocrisy. Its components have given me something to laugh at for years. For instance, there are the delusional women (usually single) who apparently see themselves as luscious targets of libidinous ecstasy from the male of the species and occasionally from the female of the species. They must have, as a matter of rights (thitherto overlooked in the Bill of Rights), free contraception devices of all kinds. It is a very serious matter. In fact, it is a matter of national security. Then there are the cultural liberals. What enthusiasm they are advancing today is a matter of no particular blueprint or scheme of any kind. They are sometimes for freedom, say, legalization of marijuana or, who knows, heroin. They are at other times for government coercion, say, cap-and-trade or the sale of soda pop in 32-ounce containers. They follow only one unvarying value with regard to their ongoing projects: disturbing the peace. In most criminal codes, that is a misdemeanor.
There are others in this coalition that Mr. Obama brought together in this election. One is the union member, not the can-do kind of American blue-collar worker, but the congenitally angry, covetous type — at times, a thug. Another is the college student. The student is among my favorite seekers of more government. All of them are going to be paying for Mr. Obama’s excesses for years to come and living in an economy with slow growth. Frankly, the older, grayer Americans have lived prosperous lives, but these stupid youths are just setting out in life. They will pay the older citizens’ Social Security and health care for years. It will not be very good health care, but it will still be better care than stupid youths will eventually see.
That is unless in 2016, or preferably 2014, the conservative wave that we saw at the Republican convention can come in and save the economy. We have seen one of their kind on the campaign trail in 2012 — Rep. Paul Ryan. Along with him will come Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Sen.-elect Ted Cruz, Rep. Sean Duffy, Gov. Nikki Haley, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Gov. Susana Martinez, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Tim Scott and Gov. Scott Walker. Doubtless, there are others. The talent of the oncoming Republicans is inspiring. I have read that Joseph R. Biden is in the running against them, as well as Hillary Rodham Clinton. Apparently, there is not much competition from the Democrats. Already the Republicans can count on 30 governorships. They have not lost a governorship in five years.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. He is the author most recently of “The Death of Liberalism” (Thomas Nelson, 2012).