Editor’s Note: This is the third story of a three-part series about the election.
President Barack Obama and his Democrats won the Big Hat-Trick of American politics in 2008. They won the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate all at the same time.
And what did they do with all that power?
Behind all his famous fake-posturing posturing, blustering and proud use of bad language in public, Rahm Emanuel, and his friend David Axelrod, were whimpering poodles.
Their sorry record of hyper-caution and incompetence reveals many things not just about Barack Obama and his administration but also about the entire Democratic Party in Congress and in its think tanks, or what passes for its thinking.
First, the Democrats are totally bereft of new ideas of their own. When it comes to tackling the practical problems of American society, they are still in the Bill Clinton era.
The Dems are still living in the world of Clinton’s Third Way. Obama let himself be guided in a wide range of domestic and foreign issues by Leon Panetta and John Podesta, Clinton’s chiefs of staff.
But translated into English, their “Third Way” just means that for the past quarter century, the dominant Democrats got all their ideas from the Republicans and just watered them down – a little. Is this all the New America Foundation and the Center for American Progress can come up with? Obviously.
Mediocre lawyers and medieval priests and rabbis loved hair-splitting, or pilpul, the arid intellectual exercise of reconciling irreconcilables through fictional interpretations and constructs. Bigger issues like really changing the country for the better get buried beneath endless avalanche of meaningless “position papers.”
Second, the Democrats have no nerve. They have no political courage whatsoever. When George W. Bush squeezed into the White House in 2001, half a million more Americans had voted against him than for him. The only vote that really mattered in the end- was a five to four verdict of the Republican-dominated Supreme Court. It arbitrarily cut short a vote recount in Florida that would have delivered the state and its Electoral College votes to Democrat Al Gore and made him president instead.
Did George W. Bush and his administration restrain themselves and act as if they represented the majority of American voters who voted against them rather than just the slightly smaller minority who voted for them? Not a bit of it. Bush – though he never rides any horse – knew how to pretend to sit tall in the saddle and pushed through the most reactionary and regressive domestic agenda of any administration in a century (Republicans Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Warren Harding all had a far greater interventionist sensibilities and Herbert Hoover expanded government, but not for the better).
So George W. Bush, guided by Karl Rove, had the nerve to be outrageous and act as if he had a mandate for reaction, when he hadn’t.
But Barack Obama, guided by the same Rahm Emanuel who is currently showing he doesn’t know how to run, let alone reform Chicago, refused to act as if he had any popular mandate for reform, even though he had the strongest such mandate in 44 years.
So the Democrats have no guts, no vision and no ideas.
And that’s only for starters.
Their problems go far deeper than that.
Please read Part 1 and Part 2:
Martin Sieff is a former senior foreign correspondent for The Washington Times and former Managing Editor, International Affairs for United Press International. Mr. Sieff is the author of “That Should Still Be Us: How Thomas Friedman’s Flat World Myths Are Keeping Us Flat on Our Backs” (Wiley 2012) and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East” (Regnery, 2008). He has received three Pulitzer Prize nominations for international reporting.