So writes Timothy Dalrymple, who explores the interesting phenomenon of how liberals are handling the stunning reversals in policies enacted by President Obama, compared to the idealism of Candidate Obama:
[T]here’s no question that the Obama administration has been far less different from the Bush administration than was promised during the campaign.
What’s so astonishing, though, is not that Obama has extended so many controversial Bush administration policies but the way in which his erstwhile supporters have responded. They face (at least) two options:
- Barack Obama is a sellout, “just Bush with a tan,” subservient to the same malevolent political and economic forces that Bush was.
- OR the Bush administration was actually pretty reasonable to adopt these policies in the first place, and the Obama administration has been reasonable enough to recognize the fact.
Both options require the liberal to admit a mistake: either he was wrong about Obama, or he was wrong about Bush. But the first option requires the liberal to sacrifice his love for Obama, while the second option requires him to sacrifice his hatred of Bush. Either Obama was dishonest in the campaign or overwhelmed by baleful influences once he came to the Oval Office — or Obama, once he came to the White House and had the same information and responsibility that Bush had, came to more or less the same conclusions as Bush had.
Unsurprisingly, Option #1 comes out the huge winner here. So powerful is the partisan mindset that I haven’t seen a single prominent liberal writer take Option #2. They puzzle through the “mystery” of “George W. Obama” and conclude that the contradictions between Obama’s ideals and actions compose “a subtle disaster for all those whose hopes once rested with him.” They would rather abandon their love of Obama than their hatred of Bush. To put it more sharply: they are so deeply committed to the nefariousness and malfeasance of the Bush administration that they would rather believe Barack Obama a failure, a liar or a dupe than believe that George W. Bush took reasonable actions in light of the circumstances.
Of course among conservatives, Option #2 wins out. Comedian Dennis Miller recently joked (the video has been pulled from YouTube unfortunately) about what a president’s first day in office must be like, when he has “the big briefing” with all the outgoing Cabinet members and military officials from the previous administration and they tell him, “Okay Mr. President, here’s how f***ed up things really are.” At which point, naturally, the new President agrees that the previous administration had a pretty good grip on reality, and decides to mostly keep things the way they are.
But all of this seems to be begging a bigger, and I think even more important question – why does the Obama Administration deserve a second term? Remember, this was the smartest, best educated, most informed bunch ever to be put in charge of our government. If they had this many problems correcting all the “Constitution-shredding” by the Bush Administration (and really, they pretty much failed at all of it) then why should we keep them in charge for another four years? If the Left is this disappointed with the performance of Barack Obama, then why aren’t they supporting a strong challenger who really can get the job done? Jimmy Carter was at least challenged by Ted Kennedy.
I can’t help but think that we’re back to Option #2, at least where the War on Terror is concerned. The Left knows this; they know that all the whining over Guantanamo Bay and military tribunals and indefinite detention of terrorism suspects was nothing more than election year smoke and mirrors. There never was a plan to “fix” any of this, and none of them have a plan to do it now. And as far as the economy is concerned, the draconian over-regulation of Dodd-Frank and the heavy-handed tactics of the Obama EPA, Department of Labor, and Department of the Interior are precisely the kind of government controls they have wanted for decades. If anything, ObamaCare is heading the country in what they see as the right direction; without major reforms or a repeal of the law, we are on track for full universal health care within the next decade or two.
I don’t think I’m wrong when I suggest that the Left would easily trade civil liberties (including those of a relatively small handful of people involved in terrorism) for their vision of Big Government utopia. Some may be unhappy that it didn’t happen in only four years, but most are probably pleased with the “progress” that President Obama has made so far.