Friday, August 12, 2011





by Wesley Pruden


Friday, 12 August 11

The gods of the liberals—“progressives,” as they insist on calling themselves this season—are failing all over the place. Restless natives are rioting in London. Peasants are getting rich selling 90-proof Oolong in Washington. The elites are “unsettled,” as elites always are, in a lot of places between.

The “progressives” are particularly frightened by Barack Obama’s prospects for expanding the debacle he wrought in Washington. They haven’t yet come to terms with the fact that it’s not just the man, but his fraudulent message. Another speech won’t accomplish anything more than another national shrug.

“He’s a do-gooder at heart,” a former official in the Clinton administration and now one of the consultants who make a good living dispensing cheap wisdom and other profundities, tells the London Daily Telegraph. “He thinks everyone has the same agenda to do the right thing, but other people don’t have the same agenda. Their agenda is to score points and get their party re-elected. This is the downside of him not being terribly political like Bill Clinton. Bill woke up every day relishing this kind of fight, and Hillary is just a tougher person. The Clinton are much more combative. They’re always ready to go to Defcon 1.” Defcon 1, as every Washington slinger of insider slang knows, is Pentagon talk for “war is imminent.”

The terror that dare not speak its name is not yet Barack Obama (the left is getting there), but Jimmy Carter. Mr. Jimmy is the president’s mortal twin, the doppelganger the White House tries to keep to shelling peanuts in the basement. The Obama approval ratings, as reckoned by the pollsters, are sinking well into the neighborhood where Mr. Jimmy dwelt for one miserable term. Gallup reckons the Obama number is flirting with the 40-percent mark. Rasmussen posts a similar finding.

Gallup finds even scarier signs and omens in its plumbing of sentiments of religious folk. By far the friendliest are the Muslims, who make up only a fragment of the population and who, fairly or not, are the religious folks who frighten everybody. Eighty percent of Muslims think Mr. Obama is doing a good job as president, compared to 65 percent of the Jews, 60 percent of the atheists (who yearn recognition as a sort of religion), 50 percent of the Catholics, 37 percent of the Protestants and 25 percent of the Mormons.

Anyone paying proper attention to what’s causing Mr. Obama’s trouble has concluded that the stuff everyone got drunk on in 2008 was poison moonshine. The portents abound, in the prospects of incumbent mayors, governors and senators. The easy ride is over, and the future of easy riders is dark and bleak. But the land is nevertheless littered with those unable to learn the lessons taught by Experience. Theory, after all, grades on an easier curve.

The chattering class is drinking deeply just now of an elixir peddled by Drew Westen, a professor of psychology at Emory University, and author of an op-ed essay in the New York Times suggesting that all the nation needs is better bedtime stories from the president. “The stories our leaders tell us matter, probably almost as much as the stories our parents tell us as children, because they orient us to what is, what could be, and what should be; to the worldviews they hold and to the values they hold sacred . . . Children crave bedtime stories.”

If only President Obama would let him write the bedtime stories the professor could help the president put the children to sleep happy, contented and oblivious to the harsh vicissitudes of reality. All those unhappy American children want is “a clear, compelling alternative to the dominant narrative of the right.” They want to be reassured that the problem was not caused by “tax-and-spend liberalism,” as common sense is telling them, but by . . . George W. Bush.

This is a familiar pot of mush from a wimp, like Jimmy Carter’s much-mocked malaise, but it’s mush that still finds an appetite on the left. The professor’s op-ed has been much e-mailed, whizzing about the Internet at the speed of fright since it first appeared in the New York Times a week ago. A “progressive” just can’t understand how anyone so kind, so compassionate, so educated, so tender-hearted, so like himself, could be so misinformed about a man who so many wise and good people drooled over for so long. The humiliation of the “progressives” is the realization that such loathsome folk as Tea Party voters are smarter than they are, and were never fooled by the man.

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