Friday, May 28, 2010

Article Of The Week

Roger Shuler’s “Is Sarah Palin Smarter Than Barack Obama?” is only tangentially about the former Alaska governor. Palin has knowingly mimicked Glenn Beck’s “attack dog mindset” in arguing that progressivism is “a damaged brand,” willfully ignoring the its proud legacy, including “Social Security, Medicare, environmental protection, food safety, civil rights, etc.”

The failure of any Democratic President to boast of liberalism’s achievements and conservatism’s failure has dearly cost the Democratic Party and liberalism. Shuler (micro autobiography here) explains:

Our three most recent Democratic presidents--Carter, Clinton, and Obama--have each failed to explain to the American people why conservatism truly is a damaged brand. And why is it damaged? Because of rampant incompetence and corruption.

Nixon had Watergate. Reagan and the first Bush had Iran-Contra and the savings and loan scandals. The second Bush had Iraq, Afghanistan, torture, political prosecutions, the mortgage crisis, an imploding economy . . . well, you get the idea.

Democrats consistently fail to show the American people how modern conservatism results in disastrous governance. Carter failed, Clinton failed, and Obama is on his way to failing.

The single best thing Obama could do for his country is to revisit the past eight years and expose the incompetence and corruption that was at the heart of the Bush II administration. Obama needs to explain why he inherited a godawful mess and how it has hamstrung him--and our country.

He also should lead the effort to hold Bush criminals accountable. (Actually, Obama does not need to be "leading" that effort. He's got other things to do, cleaning up after Bush--and trying to prevent environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But he should encourage Eric Holder, John Conyers, and others to lead the charge.)

President Obama and his Attorney General have chosen to given the scoundrels dominating the Bush 43 Administration a pass. No prosecution, not even an investigation, only an eagerness to, as Shuler puts it, “let Republicans off the hook” because, the President has argued, he wants to “look forward, not backward.” This is self-serving from more than one perspective, but the failure of the uniquely eloquent Barack Obama to condemn the conservatism which dominated the administration prior to his may do even more long-term damage both to his party and to the nation.

Although this failure to describe to the American people the contributions of liberals and liberalism to the strength of the nation nearly assures “the damaged conservative brand will remain in place,” Shuler does not directly address Obama’s motivation. But he does observe

Over the past 80 or so years, Democratic presidents repeatedly have had to clean up messes left by conservatives--Franklin Roosevelt following Coolidge and Hoover, Jimmy Carter following Nixon, Bill Clinton following Reagan and George H. W. Bush, and now Obama following George W. Bush.

Essentially, a Democrat cannot get elected in modern American unless a Republican has screwed things up so badly that people become desperate to put an adult in charge. Two of the most qualified Democrats in modern times--Al Gore and John Kerry--failed to capture the White House. Why? We submit it's because Republican had not yet screwed things up enough to allow a Democrat to be elected.

Shuler not only submits it. It is true- but rarely acknowledged. In the excitement of liberals, Democrats, and the mainstream media upon the election of the first black President, there was apparently little understanding of the proximate causes of the victory. It was easy to get caught up in the election of the first non-white to the presidency, especially given the crowds which were drawn to his every public appearance and the extraordinary attraction of both minorities and young people to his candidacy. So easy, in fact, that we forgot that Barack Obama was elected because a Republican had finally “screwed things up enough to allow a Democrat to be elected.” Or rather, had “screwed things up” so monumentally that hardly anyone could avoid noticing. Unfortunately, even Barack Obama may not understand that his victory was more a function of the destructive impact of conservative governing than of his own appeal.

This is not mere behavioral analysis. On Thursday morning (for the umpteenth time), Glenn Beck said to his radio sidekick “Don’t get me started on George Bush,” which meant, of course, that he wanted to get started on George Bush. It has become an article of faith among many conservatives in the media, and to a larger extent among GOP politicians, that President Bush somehow was not a conservative. And if neither President Obama nor his minions do the heavy lifting of explaining what modern conservatism did to the country during the eight years that preceded his election, Americans will come to the (unjustified) conclusion that it was not conservatism that failed the nation, but rather “government” which failed. And as the party of government, the Democratic Party, and subsequently the nation, will suffer.

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