Noman loves James Taranto's Best of the Web Today, and today proves no exception to the rule. Commencing with the defeat of President's Obama's American Jobs Act legislation in the Democratically-controlled Senate, he offers his analysis of hand-wringing on the Left.
Portnoy observes: "What I believe is happening is that the left is reading the handwriting on the wall and resigning itself to the harsh reality [that] the man they trusted to 'fundamentally transform America' is on the verge of being unelected."
We'd go a step further. Not only does Obama's re-election look to be in serious jeopardy, but his presidency has been an almost unmitigated disaster for progressive liberalism, nearly every tenet of which has been revealed to be untenable either practically, politically or both.
Stimulus Sr. discredited Keynesian demand-side economics--the notion that the way to produce employment and growth is through massive government spending. The real tragedy is that even after blowing hundreds of billions of dollars, Obama and many other Democrats failed to learn the lesson.
ObamaCare proved a political fiasco, showing that there are limits to Americans' willingness to tolerate the expansion of the welfare state. Because most provisions have not yet taken effect, the policy disaster is delayed and may be averted if either Congress repeals it in 2013 or the Supreme Court strikes it down as unconstitutional next year. The latter case would mark a huge legal defeat for liberalism. It would be the first time since the New Deal that the court has recognized a serious limitation on Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce.
Even something as small as Bank of America's recently announced $5-a-month debit-card fee is liberal policy failure. The fee is intended to recoup money lost by price controls on merchant fees included in last year's Dodd-Frank law.
The administration's only major success has been in the area of terrorism. Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki are dead, and long may they rot. But their deaths were not the result of progressive liberal policies. Except in the area of interrogation, the current administration has largely kept its predecessor's antiterror policies, albeit often reluctantly.
The power of unions has diminished, with Wisconsin, the first state to establish so-called collective bargaining for government employees, having abolished it. "Card check," which would have enabled unions to take over workplaces without approval by secret ballot, couldn't even get past a Democratic Congress. Neither could "cap and trade," the administration's plan to combat global warming--a phenomenon increasingly many Americans suspect is a hoax.
We can think of just one area in which liberalism has enjoyed unambiguous success during the Obama years: gay rights. The Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 would not have become law with a Republican in the White House.
The left got what it wanted in 2008: a liberal president with a sweeping agenda and big Democratic majorities capable of enacting it. The result has been a great and failed experiment in progressive politics and governance. In due course, one hopes, the left will absorb some lessons--but for now, they seem to be suffering a nervous breakdown.
That is one way to understand why so much of the liberal establishment is rallying behind Krugman's Army, as the "Occupy Wall Street" protests are known. Everything they believe in has failed, so they are turning nihilistic.That's a devastating assessment, and one that is largely correct. The last three years have been a reminder to the left, and the electorate, to be mindful about what it wishes for--"hopes for" might be more apposite.
Noman would take issue with Taranto only by adding one other area of unambiguous success: abortion politics. With the passage of ObamaCare and recent HHS directives adopted pursuant to it, the President's personal interest in restoring funds to Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire, and recent skirmishes in which he has unequivocally entered the fray on the side of death, Moloch has never eaten so well in America.
The Left sees the intrinsic connection between the economic and the social issues. It is the Right that prefers not to notice.
Liberals know that if they insist on or win nothing else, social victories will eventually result in government control over private initiative. Any self-debilitating abuse can be wrapped in the appealing language of rights and freedom. Dependence follows the erosion of character.
Whether by intention or outcome, Liberals tend to champion only freedoms that enslave and/or destabilize: e.g., sexual rights, drug use rights, children's rights to be free of parental control, procedure rights for criminals (at the expense of victims and society), free speech rights for communists and jihadists (but not for pro-lifers, or conservative students on campus).
Once the person, a social animal, is shorn from the familial, ecclesial and other communities that give him context, reference and support; once he is taught to demand his abstract individual rights in splendid isolation from others; once he is schooled to nurture grievance and a sense of entitlement; once his moral conscience is replaced with a social one; he will decline into dependence as surely as night follows day.
The State will be waiting to care for him and minister to his needs--at the cost of his resources, his soul, and increasingly of his intelligence. As David Mamet writes, the Left cannot honestly evaluate the results of its actions.
In sum, the Obama Administration has dealt one winning hand after another to the culture of death. It will take longer for fiscal Conservatives to understand that Leftist social policies have just as conclusively demonstrated--no less than the aforementioned economic disasters--the utter failure of the Statist agenda.
When the Right confronts the Left's social agenda with the vigor it does its economic one, the Left will really have a nervous breakdown. For then it will have been deprived of its ace in the hole.
Rick Santorum demonstrated this beautifully at Dartmouth the other night (see at minute 16:48). Asked about child poverty, he underscored the breakdown of the American family. Five percent of children living in two-parent families are living in poverty. Thirty percent in single-parent families are. He connected the economy to its etymological root in the Greek word for family.
Noman was struck by he unease-cum-alarm on Charlie Rose and Julianna Goldman's faces as he passionately and intelligently made his points? Santorum even triggered the angry disruption of an audience heckler (at minutes 17:44 and 18:08).
Noman thought they might be having nervous breakdowns.