The Obama Delusion, Explained

Andrew Ferguson and The Weekly Standard sift through the wilted pile of a straw man to see why a disillusioned (and delusional) liberal will stick with Obama:

By now, Fallows writes, “there is plenty of evidence about the things Obama and his team cannot do.” These include managing the various crises in the Middle East, overcoming the culture wars, and restoring the economy to the full bloom of health. The author might have added several more items: writing a budget for the federal government, let’s say, or containing health care costs, or reducing, rather than enlarging, the federal debt. .  .  . I’m sure you can come up with a few items of your own. Even balanced with what Fallows insists are Obama’s successes—installing Obama-care, withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, “encouraging the Arab Spring” (?), managing relations with China—the executive tasks that were beyond Obama’s competence should be enough to declare a mostly failed presidency. 

Yet it is this conclusion that the president’s supporters, no matter how disenchanted, cannot permit themselves. It’s an election year, and unspeakable horrors await the world if Obama loses. So Fallows comes up with an ingenious premise for his book: History’s verdict on Obama’s presidency will be largely determined by whether he wins reelection in November. “Our judgment about ‘really good’ and ‘mediocre’ presidents is colored by how long they serve,” he writes. “A failure to win reelection places a ‘one-term loser’ asterisk on even genuine accomplishments.” 

This is the kind of insight you often find in highbrow journalism: sweepingly explanatory and grandly historical and, upon reflection, not really true.


In his interview with Coates, at the book’s end, having offered what I’m sure he believes is an unblinkered view of the president and his failings, Fallows makes clear that all the arguments in the foregoing pages are, finally, not particularly germane to the question at hand: Should Obama be reelected?

“I’m going to vote for him,” Fallows says, “because: One, I prefer Democratic to Republican economic policy. .  .  . Two, I prefer Democratic foreign policy to Republican foreign policy. .  .  . Three, I prefer Democratic to Republican judicial/social policy.”

Notice that the particulars of the Obama presidency have vanished altogether. It’s a bit of a letdown for a reader who’s been patient enough to slog through his e-book. James Fallows will vote for President Obama because Obama is a Democrat and so is he. 

Well, why didn’t he just say so in the first place? Why do Democrats always make things so complicated?

Bitterly clinging to their liberal fairy tale.


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