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Keller: BHO Failures Due To Bush, Saboteurs

From the editorial pages of the New York Times:

Fill In the Blanks

By BILL KELLER
September 18, 2011

Just a few winters ago my wife and I took our daughters to witness the inauguration of a man who had campaigned on hope and embodied possibility. We are pretty immune to political euphoria, but, circulating among the footsore pilgrims, we could imagine our country had embraced the idea that we were all in this together. When the newly sworn-in president congratulated us all on choosing unity of purpose over recriminations and worn-out dogmas, we wanted to believe that we had done exactly that…

By the way, this appears to be the first opinion column from the former executive editor of The New York Times. A position he held from July 2003 until September 2011.

Luckily his views on Obama never colored his editorial judgment.

The decline in Obama’s political fortunes, the Great Disappointment, can be attributed to four main factors: the intractable legacy bequeathed by George W. Bush; Republican resistance amounting to sabotage; the unrealistic expectations and inevitable disenchantment of some of the president’s supporters; and, to be sure, the man himself

Notice the order of blame here. Mr. Obama is the last person who is responsible for his political fortunes.

Mostly, of course, it is George Bush’s fault. (After all, he inherited trouble-free Presidency.) And those Republican ‘saboteurs.’ – By the way, isn’t it revealing to see such language from those preachers of civility at the New York Times?

Obama inherited a country in such distress that his Inaugural Address alluded to George Washington at Valley Forge, marking “this winter of our hardship.” Unfunded wars, supply-side deficits, twin housing and banking crises enabled by an orgy of regulatory permissiveness — that was the legacy Obama assumed…

Meanwhile that lucky bastard George Bush just had a recession and 9/11 to deal with.

By the way, since Congress controlled the purse strings since January 2007, didn’t Mr. Obama inherit all of his problems from a Democrat controlled Congress?

In our political culture if you inherit a problem and don’t fix it, you own it. So at some point it became the popular wisdom that Iraq and Afghanistan were “Obama’s wars,” and that the recession had become “Obama’s economy.” Given the systemic burden Bush left for his successor, that judgment seems to me to be less about fair play than about short memories. But this is what passes for accountability in our system. And the Republicans have been relentlessly effective at rebranding every failing of the Bush administration as Obama’s fault. The historical truth, therefore, is no longer a viable political shelter for the Obama presidency. At best we can hope it serves as a caution against those who preach a return to the indiscriminate tax cuts and regulatory free-for-all that helped produce our lingering mess in the first place.

Again, this is what passes for reasoning from the man who edited the New York Times for the last eight years.

Another toxic legacy of the Bush years is an angry conservative populism, in which government is viewed as tyranny and compromise as apostasy.

Does anyone remember how The Times viewed government when it was in the hands of the Republicans? Who were worse tyrants than Messrs Bush and Cheney?

The Tea Party faction has captured not only the Republican primary process, but to a large extent the national conversation and the legislative machinery. In Congress the anger is pandered to by Republicans who should know better, since their nihilism discredits not only the president they have cynically set out to make a failure, but their own institution. Voters are frustrated by this — Congress has the approval rating of bedbugs — but it remains to be seen whether the electorate will punish the real culprits or simply reward the candidates who run against that bogeyman, “Washington.” …

A desire for a smaller federal government that taxes less is seen by The New York Times as nihilistic. This is the same newspaper that will never say an unkind word about the motives of Islamic terrorists, by the way. But those Tea Party supporters. Watch out.

The disenchantment of the liberals may seem less consequential; it’s not as if they are going to vote for Rick Perry. But Obama needs their energy if he is to keep his office and have any allies left in Congress. What he gets instead is a lot of carping. Obama’s deal to continue the Bush tax cuts, his surrender of a public option on health care, his refusal to call the Republicans’ bluff on the debt ceiling rather than swallow budget cuts — these and other compromises amount, in the eyes of the Democratic left, to crimes of appeasement…

Note that Mr. Keller is admitting that the original plan for Obama-Care was to include the ‘public option.’

Lost in the shouting is the fact that Obama pulled the country back from the brink of depression; signed a health care reform law that expands coverage, preserves choice and creates a mechanism for controlling costs; engineered a fairly stringent financial regulatory reform; and authorized the risky mission that got Osama bin Laden.

Does anyone above the age of 12 actually believe any of this? Again, this is the mastermind of the New York Times for the last eight years speaking. He really is this big of a fool.

To be disillusioned you must first have illusions. Some of those who projected their own agendas onto the slogans and symbols of the Obama campaign were victims of wishful thinking — fed by Obama’s oratory of change. Anyone who paid attention while candidate Obama was helping President Bush pass the 2008 bank bailout should have understood that beneath the rhetorical flourishes Obama has always been at heart a cautious, cool, art-of-the-possible pragmatist. When he sees that he lacks the power to get what he wants, he settles for what he can get.

Why would Obama have objected to bailing out his primary political donors? Mind you, Mr. Keller is calling other people naïve. 

Obama can be faulted for periods of passivity (his silence as Republicans have sought to defund financial reforms), for a naïve deference to Congress (his belated engagement in the details of the health care bill), for a deficit of boldness and passion, for not doing more to stiffen the spines of his caucus on Capitol Hill, for not understanding — at least until his latest barnstorming on the jobs bill — that governing these days is a permanent campaign.

Yes, Obama needs to campaign more. (Sheesh.) But Keller is calling for Obama to be more uncivil. Which, oddly enough, is exactly what the radical left Democrat Party bosses and union thugs are saying. What a coincidence.

It is partly a failure of presidential communications that Republicans have succeeded in parodying each of his accomplishments, turning “stimulus” into an expletive, portraying “Obamacare” as socialized medicine and attacking the Dodd-Frank financial reform as an assault on capitalism.

Because, "the historical truth" is that the stimulus created a boom economy, Obama has driven the cost of healthcare through the floor, and Dodd Frank has given the financial markets the confidence they needed to reach new highs.

It’s not just that he has failed to own his successes. He has in a sense failed to define himself. He is one of our more elusive presidents, not deeply rooted in any place or movement. David Remnick’s biography called Obama a shape-shifter. At the fringes, that makes him vulnerable to conspiratorial slanders: he is a socialist, a foreign imposter, a jihadist, an adherent of black liberation theology. To a less paranoid audience, his affect comes across as aloofness or ambivalence.

PERSONALLY, I can stand a little ambivalence in our leaders, particularly compared with the blinkered certitude of the previous administration. But in politics there are few greater liabilities than a perceived lack of definition.

That’s right, folks. we’re back to the problem being that Obama just hasn’t defined himself enough. Perhaps he should go on TV a little more often. Maybe he should write a third autobiography.

Maybe he should try campaigning a little, too.

Against Obama we have a cast of Republicans who talk about the federal government with a contempt that must have Madison and Hamilton spinning in their coffins.

What a proof of Mr. Keller’s complete and utter ignorance of "historical truth." Indeed, he has nothing but contempt for the truth. Which, apparently, is a job requirement at The Times, anyway.

The G.O.P. campaign sounds like a contest for the Barry Goldwater Chair in States’ Rights: neuter the Fed; abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education and a few other departments; turn Medicare and Social Security into individual 401(k) programs; dismantle national health care and revoke consumer protections.

It also sounds like a way to get out economy back on its feet.

Rick Perry, who likes to rouse Texans by claiming the right to secede from the union, sometimes sounds as if he has expanded his view to encompass the secession of all 50 states.

This is of course a libel – a smear. (It’s a good thing Mr. Perry doesn’t have an Attack Watch site.)

Even Mitt Romney — at heart a Republican technocrat (and the only candidate I’ve ever seen give a campaign speech with PowerPoint) — talks as if the main role of the president is to grant waivers from any kind of mandate upon the states. Such is the power of our new, centrifugal populism.

How many waivers has Obama given?

Do they really believe this, or are they just playing to the Ron Paul libertarian niche? Do you really want to find out?

So let’s get real. Yes, Obama could do better. But we could do a lot worse.

Bill Keller’s column will appear every other Monday. Ross Douthat’s column will appear on Sundays, starting Sept. 25.

We can’t believe we are saying this, but we would rather have Ron Paul in the White House than any of the editors of the New York Times.

Even crazy Ron Paul does not hate our country, its history and its populace, as much as the elites at The Times do.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, September 19th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Keller: BHO Failures Due To Bush, Saboteurs”

  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    “…is no longer a viable political shelter for the Obama presidency.

    ‘Scuse me? Since when is the office supposed to be a “viable political shelter” for anybody? And what, exactly is that supposed to mean? Should it be a “shelter” because he’s black? Or simply that he’s an inept yet conniving, scheming, hateful national socialist/marxist with desires to create a government command/control economy a la Spain/Greece/UK (which he doubles down on hating)/Italy, etc.?

    A shelter? Shelter means “protection against” and what, exactly should he be protected against? He has the Secret Service, the adoring protection of the mainstream media, thousands of sycophants, pundits and drooling loyal fans who protect him at every failure along with millions of guilt-ridden white apologists who think that we have to give this half-black example of affirmative action a pass on every mistake he makes, every gaffe he displays verbally, every misconception he has about history and on and on and on.

    A shelter? How about the American people get a shelter from such people through active employment of the Constitution? How about that kind of shelter for the rest of us? Shelter from having an unwanted, poorly-written healthcare bill shoved down our throats? Shelter from having tax dollars spent on unions, crony-socialists, and used to “punish his enemies”?

    What kind of shelter do we have? A$$hole.

  2. Papa Louie says:

    Excuse after excuse. The left puts a lot of thought and effort into coming up with excuses for why their theories never work out in practice. But with all the years of experience they’ve had explaining their failures, you’d think they could come up with something better than the tired old line that it’s Bush’s fault. How is it that the smartest man in the world with all his Harvard advisers can’t outsmart the dumbest man in the world? It reminds me of when Hillary was asked why she voted for the war in Iraq. She claimed that it was Bush’s fault because he had deceived her about WMDs in Iraq. The problem is, she and her husband are both on record talking about Iraq’s WMDs in 1998 when Bush was still in Texas. Was she calling on the Republican Governor of Texas to ask him for advise on Iraq? Either that or she’s a liar. All these people do is blame others and make up excuses. You’d think their base would get tired of playing the blame game. But they’re fine with it because they are a bunch of unhappy people whose main goal in life is to make others as miserable as themselves.

  3. untrainable says:

    “…the president they have cynically set out to make a failure…”
    Nobody had to MAKE Obama a failure. The problem is that there is nobody running around behind him fixing his messes, giving him credit, and pumping up his ego beyond human capacity. He has spent his entire life making messes, stirring up the little people, and voting present. Now that he actually has tangible responsibilities that he SHOULD be held accountable for, the game has changed into the “Cover Obie’s A$$ at all costs” show.

    As Rush is so fond of saying, “In his own eyes, Obama hasn’t failed.” Every policy from the regime that hurts America is another notch in Barry’s belt. But the “defend Obama” crowd doesn’t understand that his successes are our failures. When they finally catch up they’ll be telling us how 12% unemployment is good for the country, and how wonderful it is that our president understands how evil capitalism truly is.

  4. Liberals Demise says:

    This is some sick shiite………little whiteboy needs to take his marble and go walk about.

  5. proreason says:

    he and little paulie must service each other


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