June 20th, 2013

Obama’s legacy: the audacity of audacity

For the past five years or so I’ve been musing on Obama as man, as politician, as president. But now I want to look again and say a few words about Obama as precedent.

Like everyone, Obama is a unique individual, and it stands to reason that his particular combination of traits and abilities will not come again in exactly the same package. Whether or not his work will live on depends on how the American people react and whom they elect next time and for the foreseeable future, and that of course includes any changes in the makeup of the voting public that might be voted into place by this Congress (i.e. immigration “reform”).

But it strikes me that one of Obama’s most pernicious influences—and there are so many to choose from—has been that he has let future politicians know what is possible in America. And, unlike his supporters, I don’t mean that in a good way.

There used to be certain assumptions on the part of politicians who would be president. As president, you needed to keep a lofty tone and leave the more vicious and divisive attacks to your Vice President; it wouldn’t be “presidential” otherwise. You had to make sure you tended to a faltering economy or you’d be blamed. You had to support our allies and be tough with those countries who were working against us. You had to propose legislation on issues the American people cared about and supported, not just your pet projects, and that had some bipartisan support, especially if the changes were sweeping. You had to answer to the press or they would turn on you. And you had to respect Congress and the Constitution enough to go through Congress in order to do what you thought should be done if it was a power Congress usually had, not go around it through executive order

Some of this could be violated, of course, and has been, particularly the last one, because power is one of the things for which presidents strive. But if you went against too many of these rules the American people (and perhaps Congress, perhaps even your own party in some cases) was very likely to turn against you and not re-elect you. Or if it were a second term you’d lose your “mandate” and political capital and become a lame duck immediately. At least, that was the fear. So the idea that there would be consequences for such things helped hold previous presidents in check to a large extent, although of course there were some who violated this tenet or that and survived.

But generally there was a certain respect for the unwritten law of natural consequences: the belief was that the American people had its limits. You could con all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, and all that. But enough of the people would be onto your game to stop you.

Obama has proven all of that is bunk for the right person at the right time. What’s more, his entire career has proven that he is that person. He has managed somehow to be one of the trickiest and dirtiest of politicians (from the start of his rise in local Chicago politics, as I’ve described many times before), one of the most double-crossing and double-dealing and just plain doubling, presenting himself as one thing and acting like another while simultaneously presenting one of the smoothest and most above-it-all facades ever exhibited by a politician. He has talked his way out of every jam, or stonewalled his way out, with nearly complete impunity and lack of consequences. He had accomplished very little in his path leading to the presidency—except, of course, having won election to his previous positions—and still had no trouble convincing people he should receive the highest office in the land at a fairly young age. And most importantly, in his first term he egregiously violated every one of the rules I listed above and was re-elected. His popularity had fallen but not enough to matter in any way in terms of consequences.

How he has managed to accomplish this is something I (and many many others) have described in literally hundreds of post. So that’s not the point of this one. The point of this one is to say that he has shown future presidents that these previous assumptions are false, and that the rules that held presidents in check can be violated with impunity if you know what you’re doing and do it with enough audacity.

If that stands, it may be one of his worst legacies: the knowledge that you can fool enough of the people enough of the time and get away with it.

40 Responses to “Obama’s legacy: the audacity of audacity”

  1. Artfldgr Says:

    Credit The Collective Not Him
    Its The Ice Under The Water That Should Scare You More

  2. parker Says:

    BHO’s “success” would be impossible without a compliant, often lunatic, MSM. He reeks of corruption and a spiteful disdain for America and its institutions. He was and remains to a large extent the ‘perfect’ messenger of the left’s yearning for utopia. But cracks have appeared in his messiah facade. A few within the MSM, Attkisson for example, seem determined to keep chipping way at the various scandals. It ain’t over until its over as Yogi would say.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    Artfldgr: I agree that Obama would not have been able to succeed at this had the way not been paved by the many people who helped him personally, as well as by educating and propagandizing the electorate to foster a leftward drift, including undermining the traditional values (family, responsibility, religion, etc.) that have been a goodly part of what made our country strong and would have made voters capable of recognizing Obama’s game plan and character.

  4. Trimegistus Says:

    The big precedent Obama has set is that the media can choose, elect, and maintain in power ANYONE they want to, no matter how corrupt he is, no matter how lazy, no matter how incompetent.

    Democracy in America is dead. The only way to reclaim it is physical violence against the media.

  5. Baklava Says:

    I may only be 43 but I believe the lying and lying and lying by Bill Clinton and his wife (now we know TWA flight 800 was lied about) showed politicians the way:

    1) 100,000 cops (wasn’t true)
    2) 100,000 teachers (wasn’t true)
    3) The war on african americans that Bill and company kept referring to over and over (re-wrote history)
    4) The supposed 270 billion dollar medicare cut (was a 7% increase per year for 7 years)

    Each and every lie was NOT countered by ABCCBSNBCCNN and we got more uninformed voters each and every year.

    Then again, I rewatched the Kennedy debate and the media was spinning back then also.

    Now we have the Internet and AM radio and before it was only ABC, CBS and NBC and that was it.

  6. expat Says:

    Will anyone ever get the same media support as the first black president? I’m not sure. There could be someone out there with enough class to show up the pop-culture-enchanted incumbent. And since the beltway and Wall Street classes have already shown that they aren’t racist war mongers, there may be a few who look forward to someone with a little more depth.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    Baklava:

    I disagree about Clinton. He was more of an ordinary (although very successful) politician, although he certainly lied about many things and had a fairly Byzantine sex life. But not so far out of line with precedent.

    He didn’t violate most of the rules I listed in my list in this post, either. Obama has, and on a large scale. Clinton is probably kicking himself watching Obama and thinking “Why didn’t I do that?” Of course if he had, the press might not have been quite as friendly (although they were very friendly to him) and the people had not gotten to the point they are today.

  8. Baklava Says:

    Agreed.

    Though I do think a certain amount of paving the way was shown.

    The laundry list of complaints that would be impossible to address in every speech about ‘republicans’.

    Nobody hear a speech without feeling hate towards republicans.

    While Clinton didn’t seem to pull every lever of every apparatus politicizing every branch of government – the new TWA flight 800 story sheds light on some of it that did happen…

  9. Baklava Says:

    The chicago story is just crazy.

  10. Baklava Says:

    crazy as in – the press should be ashamed for not writing about it every day.

  11. Don Carlos Says:

    Hussein is the culmination, not the precedent, IMO. The logical extrapolated end of the political curve that graphed our descent.

  12. dbp Says:

    I think the legacy will be limited in the following way:

    1. If the next President is a Republican: None of Obama’s precedents will apply.

    2. If the next President is Democratic: They will get away with a lot, per usual with Democratic Presidents.

    3. If the Next President is Democratic AND either Black or a Woman THEN: They will get away with just as much as Obama has. — But only if they also share he calm demeanor, otherwise they will get away with slightly less.

  13. Eric Says:

    Prescription: The Obama v Bush frame that rehabilitates Bush’s legacy and discredits Obama.

    BDS and derivative vilification of the GOP is the lynchpin of the Democrats’ current political advantage. They still fall back on it. The Democrats can afford to be brought down as long as the GOP doesn’t rise up. Relative value is what matters.

    If Obama v Bush and rehabilitation of Bush’s legacy is successful, it restores the right/wrong scale, exposes all the dirty tricks we want to scoop back into Pandora’s box, drops the Dems, and raises the GOP.

    There’s a half-life to this prescription, of course. It can have a political effect now, moreso with the scandals that compel Bush-Obama comparisons. But wait even a few years, and the exercise would be academic only with negligible political impact.

  14. physicsguy Says:

    dbp: it’s already happening. They are already making the transition from first black prez to first woman:

    http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/306719-dems-start-transition-from-obama-to-clinton

    I can’t imagine 16 years of both Obama and Hillary… well I can, and that is what makes me sick.

  15. Recovering Bureaucrat Says:

    Until we conservatives confront the fact that a substantial number of Americans–perhaps now a majority–have embraced the liberal flight from personal responsibility and drunken love of other people’s money that have enabled Obama, we are focusing on the wrong problem. Obama could not be as awful as he is if we the citizenry didn’t support what he stands for. The big task is challenging ourselves to grow up and stop the self-undermining we have been tolerating since the Great Society. Otherwise it really won’t matter much who the next president is.

  16. Michael Adams Says:

    While I do not advocate violence against either the government or the press, there need to be very serious consequences for O’Guy’s actions. I wonder whether the Congresseunachs, AKA current Republicans, can understand the gravity of the situation clearly enough to inflict those consequences.

    Electing serious Republicans, enough of them to take the Senate, who will hold hearings, and issue subpoenas, creating events that will dominate the news every night, and use momentum as ruthlessly as the Obomanoids, relentlessly pursuing the wrong doers, making it clear, even to people who get their knowledge of current events from fictional movies. that Occupy Resolute Desk is an arch villain. His name needs to become a by-word, like Hitler or Stalin. No, he’s not quite as bad, yet. His successor, with the precedents he has set, could go that far. I’m sure that the company in the re-education camps will be wonderful. OTOH, the knowledge that they have taken my grand children to be “assimilated” would dampen the mood of any party.

    Ted Cruz!

  17. Don Says:

    As others pointed out, Obama is able to do this because of the media and the public support of his voters.

  18. expat Says:

    As to Hillary, she is gonna seem pretty yesterday in a few years. Maybe Chelsea could give her a grandchild to bake cookies for.

  19. blert Says:

    Folks, the MSM is going BROKE at a tremendous clip.

    There’s no need to get nasty.

    Their destiny is to fade away slowly — and then — all at once.

    Newsweak is being pandered again. It can’t remotely make it. As a bastion of Leftoid nostrums, its departure will terminate many a warbling bird.

    Elsewhere, NO ONE IS HIRING.

    =========

    As for the Wan, what keeps him in clover is hyper-inflation of the currency.

    That game is now at the beginning of the end. That’s what today’s market action is all about.

    Red China has been caught out in a Mother of All Credit Bubbles.

    For those not aware: Beijing has screwed the pooch — financially.

    She took a $ 200,000,000,000 spanking on her Yen position from Abenomics. More blood to follow. Figure that loss to have a clean double.

    Red China’s other hefty assets are in US Dollars. Someone just woke up and realized that Buraq is going to pull the rip cord on the value of the US Dollar — imitating Abenomics.

    Ex-those assets, Red China is in a stew… as in bankrupt.

    Hyper-inflation of her currency assets means that, like the Red Queen, Red China has to run twice as fast — just to stand still.

    Internal inflation is exploding. So wages are taking off… finally.

    Expect the currency war — the detonation wave now expanding from Tokyo — to sweep all before it.

    In this new phase, it will be impossible for Yellen to fat finger Buraq’s budget.

    The massive contraction that’s been delayed by exporting our pain (taxing the rest of the World/ Red China) must now begin.

    Right now the hedge funds are trying to find a blast shelter — and the International Space Station is booked solid.

  20. G6loq Says:

    “The danger to America is not Barack Obama and his retinue but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the presidency. It will be easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to an electorate willing to have such a man for their president.
    The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails us. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.
    The republic can survive a Barack Obama. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.”…

  21. Baklava Says:

    G6 wrote:

    The republic can survive a Barack Obama. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.”…

    Nailed it.

    In the heart of Sacramento, CA -> I can tell you there are too many fools… fools who voted for the bullet train when we are broke. Fools who believe CA’s budget situation is solved because one month of data (after retroactive tax increases) showed a surplus (never mind the entire year is a deficit)

    FOOLS ALL AROUND ME !!!!

    There is only one way out of this. Hunker down and do what you can for your family.

  22. Soviet of Washington Says:

    Baklava – Don’t believe EVERY conspiracy theory you read (though I admit some are getting more believable every day). George Bibel (U of N Dakota ME professor and certified accident investigator) has a whole chapter in his book Beyond the Black Box on analysis of the TWA800 crash complete with discussion of why the skin damage/debris field was not indicative of a bomb/missile and the physics of why a center fuel tank explosion is sufficient to have caused the crash.

  23. Soviet of Washington Says:

    (For Blert… and shamelessly stolen from Zerohedge):

    All fiat currencies are toilet paper, but the dollar is two-ply.

  24. gpc31 Says:

    Neo,

    You’re always astute but you’ve made an especially profound point about the dangerous precedent set by Obama.

    We live in a monkey see, monkey do world. Once a limit is breached or effaced, and a precedent set, others will take things to a new extreme.

    People with a shared understanding–a common ethos–instinctively know where the lines are. There are reasons why certain things just aren’t done, even if most people can’t articulate them. It’s like the unwritten rules of baseball: some things are wrong even if they’re not specified in the rule book. (For example, you don’t steal when ahead by 7 runs.) How are these unwritten rules enforced? By the players: cross the line, and the next batter will get thrown at by the pitcher.

    As you noted, the institutional players are no longer self-enforcing. And a large chunk of the spectators are too stupified to care.

    Game theorists say, if you want to change the outcomes, change the rules. But we already have too many rules. I guess it does come down to culture (and not multiculturalism).

  25. Lizzy Says:

    Sadly, I think we’ll be seeing the brazen Obama/Chicago-style governance trickle down. The Clintons’ “scorched earth” approach looks like child’s play compared to the way Obama uses every government tool he has available to him to punish his enemies. Obama is the first president to openly name and deride his enemies, which is roughly half this country, including red states and their governors, and private citizens like Rush and the Koch brothers. There seems to be nothing too big (i.e. stimulus funds, the military) or too small (i.e.GM dealerships) that isn’t politicized.

    He’s not only changed the presidency, he’s changed the tone of governance. For example, here in CO we had Democrats attempting to silence pro-gun sheriffs by threatening to withhold raises an other funding. Sure, there’s always been pettiness and arm-twisting, but there’s a level of divisiveness that is unprecedented, and I don’t expect it to go away in 2016 now that so many bureaucrats and politicians have grown comfortable throwing their weight around. You see it in activists and Lefty advocates, too, this new freedom to really denigrate the other side and go for broke in their demands instead of compromising or at least pretending to respect the other side (just watch a little MSNBC to see people say things they used to be ashamed to say in public).

  26. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “The point of this one is to say that he has shown future presidents that these previous assumptions are false, and that the rules that held presidents in check can be violated with impunity” neo

    Yes and the resultant consequence of that is, sooner or later, tyranny.

    dbp,
    1.) yes
    2.) yes
    3.) double yes with a cherry on top.

    2016 democrat ticket; Hillary Clinton/ Marco Rubio the first Woman President and Hispanic Vice Presidential ticket!

    Recovering Bureaucrat,
    The substantial number of Americans who have embraced “the liberal flight from personal responsibility and drunken love of other people’s money that have enabled Obama” will continue to be supported in that view and behavior by academia, the media, the democrats and the Fed… until it all collapses and then, they will blame conservatives, capitalists and whatever scapegoats they can manufacture. That is when the seizure of personal assets (Cyprus) and the nationalization of entire industries (Maxine Waters) will begin.

    Michael Adams,
    We are just about out of “serious Republicans” as both the immigration bill and the IRS ‘hearings’ have demonstrated.

    blert,
    The MSM is going broke. However I expect federal bailouts whenever needed. If the democrats win the House in 2014 it will be sooner rather than later. An American version of the BBC and PBS…

    Yes, hyper-inflation of the currency is keeping us afloat, what are your thoughts on Bernanke’s little ‘balloon’ on ending the fed’s pumping money out of thin air? I smell a rat.

    G6loq,
    There is no restoring of “the necessary common sense and good judgment to an electorate willing to have such a man for their president”. Reality will have to fully introduce itself and then, the mob will look for a scapegoat. Know any conservatives? Remember, when it comes to fools, Euripides 2500 yr old observation; “Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish!”

    Soviet of Washington,
    “All fiat currencies are toilet paper, but the dollar is two-ply.”

    True. But leave it in the commode long enough and it breaks down too.

  27. Frank Says:

    In regards to precedents set by Clinton. The impeachment event demonstrates that regardless of the stupidity of the incumbent, the party faithful will continue to support and invent lies in order to justify the actions of the party leadership.

    That has to be a powerful lesion for any Democrat to take. Look how only after the election were the scandals allowed to come out and criticism started to be unveiled.

  28. rickl Says:

    Good post, neo.

    “Fundamental transformation of America”, indeed. Anybody who thinks that Obama is an inept failure is completely missing the point. He has succeeded in what he intended to do.

    We no longer have a legitimate federal government. We have a hostile occupying force.

  29. Mac Says:

    The Clinton comparison is interesting. I’ve often thought that he really paved the way. Neo, I agree with you that overall he’s not in the same class, either in chutzpah or indulgence by the media. But there is one thing about his presidency that makes me feel that some kind of limit was passed: the fact that he clearly perjured himself, and not only was not forced by his own party to resign, but was the beneficiary of a unified and shameless defense from it. And, for the most part, the media.

    Granted, the whole scandal was bizarre, and the impeachment was probably a mistake. Even reasonable people I know said “he shouldn’t be impeached for a sexual misdeed.” But that only showed the success of his defenders in obscuring the fact of the perjury.

    The highest executive officer in the land simply should not have been allowed to continue in office when it was common knowledge that he flouted the law, and not just by parking in the wrong spot. There should have been an overwhelming consensus in Congress about that. To let perjury slip by was a step toward undermining the whole rule of law.

  30. skullbuster Says:

    Long time ago:

    “Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”

    James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787

  31. Cornhead Says:

    Obama can do what he does because of race.
    Back to Blood.

  32. rickl Says:

    Mac Says:
    June 20th, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Even reasonable people I know said “he shouldn’t be impeached for a sexual misdeed.”

    Quite so. He should have been impeached for trading secret missile technology to the Chinese Communists in exchange for illegal campaign contributions, i.e., high treason.

    But the Republicans in Congress didn’t want to go there. So they did the sex scandal instead.

  33. Ymarsakar Says:

    When you have power, nothing is impossible. No matter how many billions of humans must be sacrificed. Resources are precious. That is why we use them up for the greater good.

    Humans are the only renewable resource the Religion of Green allows.

    The precedent Obama sets isn’t that important to his fellow Leftist allies and fellow travelers. After all, they already know the power of the Nation of Islam, assassinating inconvenient people (Diem in Vietnam, MLK, Malcom X, JFK). The importance of Obama’s precedence is that it shows the freedom fighters that if the Ruling CLass is evil, then the gloves can come off and truly drastic, extreme, and effective methods can now be used in the war.

  34. blert Says:

    Geoffrey Britain…

    My gut tells me that the Bernanke is rebelling against the Wan — in a passive aggressive way. (Which, BTW, is Buraq’s personal style — I’ve witnessed it up close and in person.)

    He’s also testing the waters for metrics: just what will the market do if rates back up? How much? How fast? Chaotically?

    This waters testing is necessary because the Fed has left the economic galaxy — and is hesitating before declaring warp speed. (One can only hope that ESPers don’t gain psycho-kinetic powers.)

    =====

    Most round eyes are not aware that Red China is in the midst of a first class credit crisis — over night monies have locked up. A couple of massive credit defaults have just occurred — just a tad under the Lehman threshold.

    Adjusted for the size of their economy — it’s a freaking disaster — as in every player is freaking out.

    The mad dash for cash is causing even gold, silver and copper to be thrown onto the market. These and other significant commodities have been stockpiled within Red China — and financed with HOT MONEY.

    One should expect commodity exporters — that feed Red China — to feel the lash very, very, shortly.

    A BIG part of this credit crisis is the afore mentioned hit on Red China’s Yen position — which started out at a $1,000,000,000,000 trading value in Japanese Government Bonds. (and variations on them)

    The Yen / USD has moved 20% against the Yen in five months.

    Now the JGB market is having seizures. There is a disturbance in the market. The Yen is not a reserve currency — a deliberate policy of Tokyo — so trade flows and capital flows are all.

    Which means that the Yen and JGB are going to be punked even more in the months ahead.

    The only policy solution for Japan is to lift their retirement age — immediately.

    Naturally, no politician sees it so.

    Their other policy shift must be back to atomic power. On a proximate basis, they are going bankrupt purchasing distillates from OPEC. Should this stop, OPEC pricing would be under drastic pressure — to drop.

    These troubles will mean that there is no largess to fund the Salafists of the MENA.

    The House needs to stop all possible spending by the Wan.

    A massive retrenchment is dead ahead — and quickly, too.

    I estimate that the market will reject the fiat spew before the 2015 is out. As it stands, our previous biggest buyers: Red China, Japan, Nationalist China and OPEC are all on a buyers strike — the last because of current terms of trade. (OPEC is spending the cash as fast as it comes in, generally. They can’t make any money on their savings during this era of financial repression.)

  35. Ymarsakar Says:

    “Folks, the MSM is going BROKE at a tremendous clip.”

    GM also went broke. The Left used Supreme Power to fix things in favor of their union Leftist brothers.

    People might wish not to underestimate the Leftist alliance’s power and breadth of resilience in the future. They are more than they seem… they aren’t just a bunch of college frag boy college wannabe professors partying with the sexy babe actresses.

    While profit and money is the sinews of war, the Left has other ways of funding their way than the normal (and private business) model many people have to use. Normal people are beholden to normal rules. The Left does not adhere to “normal rules”. People who think they can win the conflict, are under a vast mis comprehension if they think the Left is playing by their rules.

  36. ghost707 Says:

    Obama telling Ireland to get rid of their divisive Catholic schools was so over-the-top, I don’t even know what to say.

    We really are living in the twilight zone.

  37. leigh Says:

    Obama claiming to recall segregation when he was a child is just as ridiculous.

    I am astonished at the mendacity of the manchild.

  38. Ira Says:

    “Obama has proven all of that is bunk for the right person at the right time.

    ***

    “If that stands, it may be one of his worst legacies: the knowledge that you can fool enough of the people enough of the time and get away with it.”

    In the 1950s my Mom explained to me more than once that our Constitution was intended to protect us from demagogues and from ourselves (i.e., in being willing to follow or embrace demagogues). She explained it in terms that a kid could understand, of course. Well, almost 60 years later, we (including our middle class and wealthy) so seem to crave a nanny state that I fear our Constitution will not protect us from ourselves.

  39. parker Says:

    The real market will eventually ride rough shod over the Bush-Paulson-Geithner-BHO-Bernanke TBTF QE to infinity. THE DOW and Nasdaq are going to implode. Buying junk bond mortgage based securities and T-bonds can not put Humpty back together again.

  40. Wry Mouth Says:

    To be fair, imagine how internally bitter and cynical *you* would feel, after a lifetime of people awarding you things (e.g., a Nobel Peace Prize) based on nothing but the color of your skin and how you dressed.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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