Free Markets, Free People
Conor Friedersdorf takes a look at an essay in Esquire that is simply astounding in its delusional aspects. It is by Stephen Marche who seems to hav come untethered from reality. The essay’s base question is:
"Before the policy choices have to be weighed and the hard decisions have to be made, can we just take a month or two to contemplate him the way we might contemplate a painting by Vermeer or a guitar lick by the early-seventies Rolling Stones or a Peyton Manning pass or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement?" he writes. "Because twenty years from now, we’re going to look back on this time as a glorious idyll in American politics, with a confident, intelligent, fascinating president riding the surge of his prodigious talents from triumph to triumph."
“Glorious idyll in American politics”? Where on earth has this man been for the past 3 years? If this is glorious wouldn’t you hate to see terrible?
And correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve seen very little to indicate this president was the least bit fascinating or confident. And while he may be intelligent, he’s certainly not led during his presidency. In fact, if anything he’s been led. And led badly.
Friedersdorf correctly points out that Obama isn’t the first president to be so unabashedly, obsequiously and shamelessly worshiped, nor is that only a trait of the left. But you have to wonder at what level Marche must set his own internal bar to find himself able to write that paragraph without upchucking on his keyboard.
Luckily we find out fairly quickly where he sets the bar:
"The turning point came that glorious week in the spring when, in the space of a few days, he released his long-form birth certificate, humiliated Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and assassinated Osama bin Laden," Marche writes. "The effortlessness of that political triptych — three linked masterpieces demonstrating his total command over intellectual argument, low comedy, and the spectacle of political violence — was so overwhelmingly impressive that it made political geniuses of the recent past like Reagan and Clinton seem ham-fisted."
Good lord … those are “triumphs”? A “turning point”. Highlights of his presidency? He released a paper, ordered a monster assassinated (and had no real choice to do otherwise) and humiliated a political opponent who is roundly recognized by all as a dufus.
Wow. Bow down, all ye mere mortals.
This is how little we now expect of our leaders. A man showed his birth certificate to scattered kooks, and the release of that bureaucratic form is deemed "a masterpiece." As is humiliating Donald Trump — a man who is perhaps the easiest to mock of all the reality TV stars!
Exactly. So how does someone find those events so compelling and enthralling that he writes an essay extolling them? Well I’m as clueless as you are on that front. But to be honest, when it comes to this president and his sycophants, nothing much surprises me any more (see Nobel Peace Prize). Well, almost nothing:
"In 2011, it is possible to be a levelheaded, warmhearted, cold-blooded killer who can crack a joke and write a book for his daughters. It is possible to be many things at once. And even more miraculous, it is possible for that man to be the president of the United States. Barack Obama is developing into what Hegel called a ‘world-historical soul,’ an embodiment of the spirit of the times. He is what we hope we can be."
You have to check numerous times while reading dreck like this to be sure that you haven’t really linked to the Onion. You keep peeking at different parts of the page hoping you finally spot that which will let you know this is a joke piece. But you never find it.
Is “a levelheaded, warmhearted, cold-blooded killer who can crack a joke and write a book for his daughters” really the “embodiment of the spirit of the times” and what “we hope we can be”? Really? Or does it sound like a character from a Brad Thor novel?
Friedersdorf does a credible job of destroying Marche’s premise with facts. A terrible thing in the fantasy world Marche has constructed. Friedersdorf makes it clear that Obama is just another of many ordinary politicians that have come to power and we shouldn’t glorify him (or them). He ends his fisking with:
This is no time to enjoy Obama, as the Esquire writer asserts, or to treat him deferentially, as if he has earned our trust.
In all administrations, Congress is a necessary check, as is the Fourth Estate, as are the people. Our current Congress is failing spectacularly. It is filled with Republicans who’ve no idea how to govern and Democrats whose civil liberties bona fides evaporated as soon as their party came into power.
Thus a greater burden is imposed on the media and the people. To cast Obama as the living embodiment of the zeitgeist is as absurd as imagining him to be a shadow outsider who hates America. He is a normal politician, one whose behavior in office often times conflicts with the ideals that put him there. What we ought to do, insofar as it’s possible, is be skeptical, vigilant and demand better.
Although Friedersdorf might disagree with me, I contend that the media too is “failing spectacularly” – at least the establishment media. And the Esquire piece is simply the visible tip of a very large media iceberg that first came to the public’s attention during the 2008 presidential election when many in the media gave up all pretense of objectivity or being unbiased. It was particularly shameful, and for the most part, hasn’t changed. It is one of the reasons someone like Marche feels comfortable penning this absurdly silly essay. What was left of the media’s credibility went the way of the Dodo after that performance and they haven’t yet regained it.
That’s left it up to the people as the final check. The people, who are now routinely attacked and dissed by both politicians and the elite media. The one “check” on this runaway freight train of government power is the most powerless and confused. If one want’s a reason for the 3 past wave elections we’ve had, the confusion and dissatisfaction of the electorate is the answer. And that hasn’t changed a bit, despite Marche’s paean to his political god.
From a commenter on Arnold Kling’s Atlantic site, one of the more succinct summaries of what Waxman-Markey really is:
‘Cap and Tax’ simply provides more opportunities for political favoritism — creating arbitrary credits to be awarded to pet projects while getting others to pay for the favors. Meanwhile the energy expense baseline of the entire economy goes up. Waxman-Markey are gushing about how historic this bill is. That it is — it puts Smoot-Hawley in second place as potentially the most misguided economic legislation of the last 100 years.
Take the time to read Kling’s post as well.
If you’re wondering who will be paying “for the favors”, Conor Clarke at the Atlantic has been kind enough to put that in chart form using the CBO’s data on tax distribution:
But remember you 95% out there – your taxes won’t go up by a single dime – not one dime. Your fuel, electric, transportation, food and just about anything else you can imagine? Dimes won’t even begin to describe the increases you’ll see.