The Democrat’s turn
Mr. Obama and the Democrats opened their national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, last Tuesday. The Republicans had their innings last week and, for the most part, batted the Democrats around pretty good. This week it’s the Democrat’s turn.
You know going in that like the Republican convention, it will be a three-day infomercial. The Democrat infomercial, unlike the Republican, will be dedicated to praising the past and holding out a vision of a bright, new America where a government dedicated to redistributing the wealth will give birth to a new middle class that will walk carefree in the broad sunlit uplands.
If the past is prologue, this is ridiculous. No one denies that Obama inherited a real mess in 2009. But, Obama was not one to let a crisis go to waste, so he let congressional Democrats write a pork-laden $800 billion economic stimulus plan that allocated most of the funds to state governments while the private sector, where jobs are created, struggled for capital. Then the administration spent 16 months forcing through a massive overhaul of the health care system that will not lower costs or improve the delivery of health care for the poor. And, Mr. Obama who declared that a deficit of $10 trillion is unpatriotic, has overseen an increase of $5 trillion and has shown no sign he will not double and triple it into a financial black hole that will swallow the future of our children and grandchildren.
You know the Obama campaign sees warning signs on the horizon. They knew someone had to make an economic case for another four years at the convention and it couldn’t be Mr. Obama so, the party turned to former President Bill Clinton to deliver the message of hope. It’s ironic that Mr. Obama who typified his opponent as someone from the last century, now wants us to judge him on Clinton’s policies of the 1990s.
The Clinton-Obama feud is the worst-kept secret in the Democratic Party and Obama could not have liked going hat-in-hand to the former president. Clinton is one of the most popular public figures in the country and he is known as “The Big Dog” in the party. He acquired the name in 1992 after a supporter, when asked if Bill’s philandering bothered her, said, “He does seem like a hard dog to keep on the porch.”
Big dog has not forgotten, or forgiven, it is said, that the Obama campaign played the race card on Hillary in the South Carolina primary in 2008. Time has not healed that wound nor has Obama done anything to mend the bad feeling. According to Edward Klein, Clinton insiders say he went on a rant at one meeting: “I’ve heard more from Bush, asking for my advice, than I’ve heard from Obama. I have no relationship with the president − none whatsoever. Obama doesn’t know how to be president. He doesn’t know how the world works. He’s incompetent. He’s an amateur!”
Word is Bill wrote the speech himself and refused to show it to the Obama campaign despite repeated requests from Axelrod. It is also believed he was angry because the Obama camp kept giving him suggestions about what to say. They didn’t understand. You don‘t tell Big Dog when to bark or what to bark at.
Clinton’s agreement to help pull Obama’s bacon out of the fire couldn’t have easy for him either. In addition to the South Carolina dust-up in 2008, Bill Clinton’s politics are best understood by remembering he led the Democratic Leadership Council before becoming president. This was a centrist organization that ceased operation in 2011 because the Democratic left’s view was, “we don’t need no stinkin’ centrists.” In 1996, Clinton proclaimed that the “day of big government is over.” In 2012, Mr. Obama seems wedded to the idea that we need an ever bigger government to supply more and more goodies to potential voters.
The difference between Mr. Obama’s view of government’s role, and that of Mr. Romney’s, and possibly even Mr. Clinton’s, highlights what this election is all about. Despite all the nonsense about wars on women, return to back-alley abortions, or where Obama was born, the central issue is the ultimate role and size of government.
As Janet Daley of The Telegraph UK wrote, “What is being challenged is nothing less than the most basic premise of the politics of the centre ground: that you can have free market economics and a democratic socialist welfare system at the same time. The magic formula in which the wealth produced by the market economy is redistributed by the state − from those who produce it to those whom the government believes deserve it − has gone bust.”
Daley cites the conditions now prevailing in the EU. Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal border on bankruptcy while Germany and France spare over how much German workers will be forced to pay to bail out their less fortunate cousins. Only in a fantasy world can people believe Germany can produce the wealth required to support the universal entitlement programs that the citizens of the other EU countries have come to expect. Daley believes the EU has two options: “You can, in other words, decide to debauch the currency which underwrites the market economy, or you can dispense with democracy.” (See Greece and Italy.)
The debate in this election has gone beyond welfare reform or Obamacare. The discussion now revolves around whether we seek to emulate our European friends or whether our political class is willing to begin to draw back on universal entitlements such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Obamacare, and scores of other gift programs that have proven to be unaffordable.
I wonder what candidates will say when interest payments on the deficit destroy our ability to pay for the social safety net? I suppose if we listen carefully to the hullabaloo emanating from Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy we will have a good idea what our politics will sound like in 2020.