What did we learn from Obama’s first 100 days?

Right after Obama won the presidency, Charlie Rose interviewed Tom Brokaw and asked, in essence, “So what are we really getting?” Neither had a clear idea. After 100 days we all have a clear idea.

We know that Obama is a pure politician. He has no significant expertise outside of the art of running for office. The art of running for office in the media age is that of making speeches that make broad generalities that resonate with the voters, while avoiding specifics. In years gone by this was called “motherhood and apple pie.” It is the art of eloquently espousing things with which no one can disagree. The modern version features “hope, determination, truth, and justice.” Many observers, including Rose and Brokaw, recognized they were being fed fluff rather than substance, but there was always the possibility of some area of core competence behind the inspiring but ultimately empty rhetoric. Maybe Obama could summon up facts and closely reasoned arguments on some subject.

That has been cleared up. The White House is staffed entirely with like-minded pure politicians. Domestic policy at the detail level is largely delegated to Nancy Pelosi and her ilk, and foreign policy at the detail level is delegated to Hillary Clinton and her fellow Clintonites. Virtually all administration jobs requiring a level of subject-matter expertise have gone to Clinton Administration veterans. The rhetorical flourishes, spin, and sales jobs are retained as the sole province of the White House.

Second, after a hundred days we know Obama is a leftist not a centrist. During the campaign, Obama was smart enough to leave doubt. Sure, his past associations and voting record all showed he was a leftist, but being a smart politician he campaigned as if he might be a closet centrist. He might emerge as such upon taking office. Rose and Brokaw didn’t know. Neither did many voters.

That’s been thoroughly cleared up. We have seen massive government programs proposed, and many implemented. One telling sign is that Republicans are accused of having no solutions to problems. The premise is that all solutions are government solutions. The Administration takes as a premise that there are no solutions outside of  expanding government to solve whatever needs to be solved. Obama and the Democrats are sincere in offering to sit down and negotiate some Republican-proposed massive spending and increase in government control versus their own concepts of massive spending increase in government control. What is unacceptable to the Administration is refusal to join in government spending and control. Failure to do so, they think, is blatant obstructionism. That is what defines a leftist ideology.

Note that having a leftist ideology should not be confused with having some core competence. It doesn’t take any expertise to be an ideologue. It only requires rote recitation of what the ideology preaches.

The third thing that we have learned in the first hundred days is that Obama is taking a revolutionary approach to governing. He is slamming the country to the left. The traditional approach has been to take issues one at a time, debating health care, immigration policy, energy, and so forth. The serial approach gives the opposition time to harness the grass roots and build a case against each individual plan. The “Big Bang” approach hopes to pound through everything at once, based upon broad generalities of “the need for change” and “hope” and all the other generalities which Obama is so good at promoting. Never mind the details.

It remains to be seen if the Big Bang approach will pan out. A property of ever expanding government is that it kills the free competition, and so people come to accept that nothing could be better. People will be told that nothing could be better, and they will be told it every day. However, the Big Bang risks a counter revolution. Are we really ready to abandon so much so quickly?

The first hundred days has told us that Obama is a pure politician, a leftist, and a revolutionary. Next, we will see how that pans out.

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