I’ve seen this talking point developing for some months now, but it didn’t hit the mainstream until the other day when I read an article by Dan Balz of the The Washington Post, and a nearly identical article by Maureen Dowd. In his article, Balz laments the “multiple controversies” (read: scandals) that have engulfed poor Barack and he notes that these controversies leave one thing clear:
“President Obama has failed to meet one of the most important goals he set out when he was first elected, which was to demonstrate that activist government could also be smart government.”Right there. That’s how they see him. His goal was to win the public over to the belief that government is good and he failed. Indeed, Balz continues by telling us that Obama promised to win people over by bringing “smart, effective government.” But things didn’t turn out that way. Notes Balz:
“What has happened since Obama laid down that challenge for his administration? More Americans favor smaller government over bigger government than when he was first elected, according to exit polls from last November. Public confidence in the federal government is as low as it has ever been, according to a Pew Research Center survey released this spring.”Snicker snicker. Yep. No sale.
What has caused this? Well, there are the “controversies” (read: scandals), including Benghazi, IRS, Justice spying on reporters, and Balz adds the DOD scandal of a rising number of sexual assaults -- he ignores all the rest. There are also “the questions about Health and Human Services and its implementation of the Affordable Care Act.” Of this, he says, “it is little wonder confidence has eroded.” Ultimately though, he blames his lord and master for just not doing what he needed to do:
“But Obama bears a particular responsibility for failing to do what he said he had to do, which was to convince the public that he could make the part of government that he directly controls — the executive branch — smarter, more effective and more deserving of trust.”That is the liberal judgment of Obama: Obama is a failure because he failed to convince the public that government is good. Balz even claims that Obamacare is failing to win support for the simple reason that while people supposedly like all of its parts (a delusion), “Obama is still fighting to overcome distrust of government.”
As I said, this wasn’t the first article to talk like this either. This meme has been building. The first mention I saw of this was in January in an article that concluded that the Republicans had really won and Obama lost because the things Obama was seeking all accepted conservative thinking. Particularly, the article noted that on taxes, on the idea of using market-based solutions, and on issues like gun control, the public remains remarkably conservative. Other similar articles followed, each of which suggested ways in which Obama has failed to sell people on expanded government.
Then there was the article by Maureen Dowd, which came out the same day as Balz’s article and which makes the same point only much more damningly than Balz. Maureen whined:
“You know that the faltering American idol in the White House must be reeling in this scandalous spring. . . Just four months after his second inauguration, the president is buffeted by gushing investigations, smug and deranged Republicans, and cat-who-ate-the-canary conspiracists. The man who promised in 2008 to make government cool again is instead batting away charges that he has made government ‘Nixonian’ again.”Call it a talking point or groupthink, but either way note what is going on here. Liberals see Obama as a failure. And it’s not because they see him as the man who failed to fix race relations, something he could have done much to help. It’s not because they see him as the man who failed to fix partisan gridlock, something he could have done too. It’s not because they see him as the man who failed to solve global warming/cooling/whatevering or bring gay marriage or solve illegal immigration or reform Wall Street or bring universal healthcare. No. It’s none of that. It’s much more basic.
They wanted Obama to be a transformative president, a president who would finally get the rest of America to accept them.
Americans still distrust government. Americans still distrust liberals. He didn’t make liberalism cool.
Score: Ronald Reagan 1, Barack Obama 0.