Second Time As Tragedy
Spent the final week of election season in Paris. Apart from peeks at CNN Europe and the BBC, I was mercifully free of American hysteria.
Taxi drivers preferred Obama over Romney, whom they'd never heard of until recently. But overall there was indifference to the contest. American electoral politics appeared distant and strange to them. They didn't display the envy our media insist is shared globally. Instead, I envied their detachment.
Obama won easily, as this space predicted months ago. I told liberal friends to relax, that their flawed savior would sail to victory. They didn't want to hear it. Many whipped themselves into bizarre frenzies, fretting about the coming Romney Reich, the GOP Gestapo, and related apocalyptic visions.
I know that contemporary liberalism defines itself primarily through fear, but this was borderline insane. An Obama supporter emailed to ask that I stop predicting Obama's win. "You're scaring me," she said. I replied that she was scaring herself. She said that kind of thinking might jinx the outcome.
That's what amused me most about the election: I absolutely despise Obama's behavior, yet I had more confidence in his campaign than most of the Democrats I know.
Once the inevitable occurred, liberals became as delirious as they had been afraid. Suddenly, everything was right. They knew it all along. Americans weren't as stupid as they had assumed.
In reality, nothing changed. A few hours after his victory, Obama bombed Yemen, killing who knows how many people (or "terrorists" as the bodies are officially tagged). The next day he began pitching his Grand Bargain, a new deal where Medicare and Social Security are expected to receive the kind of cuts that Dems warned would happen had Romney won.
The rest of Obama's corporatist agenda, from widening surveillance to extrajudicial executions to privatizing public education, is laid out before him. He's free to be the Real Barack, which he's pretty much been up to now.
There will be no significant liberal resistance to this. Unlike Obama's first term, when libs could feign a betrayed innocence, there is no hiding from what is obvious. Obama's grisly record can be justified, explained away, downplayed or ignored, but it cannot be suppressed.
Obama is the first true 21st century president: a corporate technocrat streamlining authoritarian rule. Eventually, a Republican president will be elected to enjoy the expansive power Obama has given the office. Liberals might take notice then, but it'll be more about personality than policy.
Hate the sinner. Tolerate the sin.