Jewish World Review June 7, 2012/ 17 Sivan, 5772
From hope and change to fear and smear
By Victor Davis Hanson
Recently, the president purportedly has been reassuring Democratic donors that his signature achievement, Obamacare, could be readjusted in the second term -- something Republicans have promised to do for the last three years. What an evolution: We have gone from being told we would love Obamacare, to granting exemptions to favored companies from it, to private assurances to modify it after re-election -- all before it was even fully enacted.
Obama's calls for a new civility four years ago are apparently inoperative. The vow to "punish our enemies" and the intimidation of Romney campaign donors are a long way from the soaring speech at
The "hope and change" slogan for a new unity gave way to a new "us versus them" divide. "Us" now means all sorts of targeted appeals to identity groups like African-Americans for Obama, Latinos for Obama, gays for Obamas, greens for Obama, or students for Obama. "Them," in contrast, means almost everyone else who cannot claim hyphenation or be counted on as a single-cause constituency. In 2008, the Obama strategy was supposedly to unite disparate groups with a common vision; in 2012, it is to rally special interests through common enemies.
Remember the Obama who promised an end to the revolving door of lobbyists and special-interest money? Then came the likes of
Obama is said to go over every name on his Predator drone targeted-assassination list -- a kill tally that is now seven times larger in less than four years than what
Some disgruntled conservatives jumped ship in 2008 for the supposedly tightfisted Obama when he called for halving the deficit in four years and derided
What accounts for the radical change in mood from four years ago?
The blue-state model of large government, increased entitlements and high taxes may be good rhetoric, but it is unsound reality. Redistribution does not serve static, aging populations in a competitive global world -- as we are seeing from
Obama's bragging of drilling more oil despite, rather than because of, his efforts is supposed to be a clever appeal to both greens and business. Private equity firms are good for campaign donations but bad when a Republican rival runs them. "Romney would do worse," rather than "I did well," is the implicit Obama campaign theme of 2012.
To be re-elected, a now-polarizing Obama believes that he must stoke the fears of some of us rather than appeal to all of our hopes by defending a successful record, while smearing with the old politics rather than inspiring with the new. That cynical calculation and constant hedging and flip-flopping may be normal for politicians, but eventually it proves disastrous for the ones who posed as messianic prophets.
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Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.
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