Obama’s presentation to his loyal followers at the Democrat's “retreat” in Virginia last night was revelatory and ominous in many respects.
Once he realized that the butter through which he had planned to thrust his knife was not quite as warm as he wanted, Obama himself “retreated” to familiar and friendly territory: his campaign rhetoric. Never were the moments of relative quietude so poignantly paced; never were the cascading crescendos so fervent. But within the almost maudlin mixture of campaign refrains, several barometric statements are worthy of note.
His repeated tributes to Nancy Pelosi were disappointing indications that he has no intention of wresting from her ham-handed grip leadership over the “stimulus” bill. Many pundits have theorized that had Obama not relinquished drafting responsibility for the original bill to Pelosi and Obey (has a surname ever been more prophetic?), Republican resistance would not have been so strongly energized. His speech last night indicated, sadly, that he and Pelosi are more on the same page than we had hoped.
Obama actually equated, I think for the first time, spending and stimulus in an attempt to make moot the current debate as to the nature and virtue of the pending legislation. This remarkable statement clarifies the essential difference between the competing Congressional factions. Do you stimulate the economy by providing a more encouraging environment to the engines of prosperity, or do you just print more money and distribute it to the needy or, more accurately, existing and new bureaucracies that presume to represent the needy (and will do so if rewarded by appropriate financial “haircuts” in the distributive process)?
After token obeisance to the concept of debate, Obama announced that there was no time to tolerate or entertain “old ideas.” He is apparently under the impression that all voters blessed him, not just a majority. This is delusional. Voters don’t mind losing, but they tend to resent being exterminated.
The two little jabs at “cable chat” give little comfort to those, liberal and conservative, who never imagined that such a bright guy could ever conceivably buy into a revival of the Fairness Doctrine. If cable is “chat,” what is what comes from the networks or The New York Times—Delphic oracles? Media balance is undeniably skewed toward liberal expression. To tamper with it via the Fairness Doctrine cannot possibly be justified as restoring equilibrium; it is censorship simple and impure.
Even taking into account that he was speaking to a “papered” house, Obama displayed impressive self-confidence and suavity. After a week of tainted appointments, apparently without end, that’s an accomplishment of which even the lecherous, but seemingly virtuous, Elmer Gantry could have been proud.