When I pick up the morning newspaper these days I am often reminded of that old Chinese proverb "may you live in interesting times". I'm sure that every generation sees their "time" as interesting, and full of change. And so it should be -- with mankind's inexorable march toward the future, change (both good and bad) comes with each tick of the clock. The world moves forward, even if often the "forward" seems more like "backward". Our forward sure seems a lot like backward. Fortunately, it turns out that all this vacuous talk during the campaign about "hope and change" is now catching up to some realities:
-- A majority of the American people don't want a government controlled health care system -- A majority of the American people don't think more government is a good idea -- A majority of the American people have decided that Barack Obama is "more liberal" than they thought he was (big surprise -- not!) -- The economic "crisis" that Obama tried to capitalize on is not as bad as he would like us to think it is -- The failure of Obama to control the agenda -- by ceding power to Congress -- has unleashed the left-wing of the Democrat Party and has led to partisan, left-wing legislation -- That legislation has tanked any chance at bi-partisanship and has turned off the American people
Indeed, the American people are starting to understand that our would-be emperor is wearing no clothes. If you bothered to watch the President's prime time health care news conference this past week you saw a man grappling for answers, talking to "run out the clock" and making very little sense. Makes you long for the simple colloquiums of George W. Bush! Seriously -- the President is so in love with the sound of his own voice and the elegance of his teleprompter that he thinks what he says doesn't matter.
But it does, of course -- and though the left's basic premise is that people aren't smart enough to take care of themselves, the reality is that the American people aren't stupid. They see Congress as a partisan place with parochial interests and where transparency and honesty are in short supply. They thought that Obama would transcend this -- by pledging a "post-partisan" and "newly transparent" government. What they got was just another left-wing politician who has actually moved to strengthen Congress' role -- not weaken it. While this may be admirable for "strict constructionists" who believe that there should be greater balance between Congress and the Executive branch, the reality is that this Congress is run by highly partisan ideologues who aren't interested in consensus. On such huge issues -- like Cap and Trade and health care reform, partisan policy is never good for the country.
By design, of course, there has always been a tension between the executive branch and the Congress, and it is necessary for both branches to be active in balancing each other. But, perhaps one of the reasons why former legislators have rarely become president (and those who have are largely ineffective in the job) is because this balance is easily distorted. When you learn to think like a Senator, with the primary goal of satisfying interest groups, it is hard to put on the CEO hat and understand that your role as president is a unique one. Yes, it is about bargaining, but it is truly (or should be, anyway) about the interests of the nation as a whole and the office of the President. Thus far, Barack Obama's relationship with Congress resembles more like that of a Majority Leader and less like the Chief Executive of the nation.
I'm thankful, of course, that the President has gotten it wrong -- for it shows clearly to the American people that he is a neophyte, without true conviction. I knew that eventually his words would ring hollow, and it would be his actions that would become the focus. We are now at that point, and his actions are clearly not up to the job.
For more along this line of thought: Charles Krauthammer: Why Obamacare is Sinking