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The Left's Nervous Breakdown

By JAMES TARANTO

The White House is "bracing for the defeat of President Obama's jobs bill," the Hill reports. That's hardly surprising, since Republicans control the House--except that it is the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority, that is expected to vote down the $447 billion Stimulus Jr. plan.

Unnamed White House officials "emphasized their view that it is Republicans who are holding up the . . . plan, and they downplayed Democratic defections," the report adds. "And officials warned that Republican presidential candidates who follow the lead of Congress . . . will be painted with the same brush as a GOP Congress that voted against the jobs bill at a critical time."

Run for your lives, Republicans! Obama's got a brush!

In contrast with the Hill's anonymous swaggerers, Obama adviser David Plouffe is downcast, ABC News reports: "Plouffe said today on 'Good Morning America' that it would be 'a tragedy' if the bill fails to pass." HotAir.com's Howard Portnoy notes that the tragic view of Obama's presidency is catching on among liberal commentators:

Why are so many columnists beginning to refer to his presidency using the past tense? It's worth noting that these references are not by conservative bloggers engaging in wishful thinking. Rather, they are emanating from the liberal commentariat.

Portnoy's examples include Ezra Klein's interminable Stimulus Sr. apologia in the Washington Post, titled "Could This Time Have Been Different?" as well as Drew Westen's much-ridiculed New York Times op-ed, "What Happened to Obama?" and a blog post by Mother Jones's Kevin Drum describing Klein's piece, which "looks back at the Obama administration's response to the Great Recession and explains why it wasn't enough."

Portnoy observes: "What I believe is happening is that the left is reading the handwriting on the wall and resigning itself to the harsh reality [that] the man they trusted to 'fundamentally transform America' is on the verge of being unelected."

We'd go a step further. Not only does Obama's re-election look to be in serious jeopardy, but his presidency has been an almost unmitigated disaster for progressive liberalism, nearly every tenet of which has been revealed to be untenable either practically, politically or both.

Stimulus Sr. discredited Keynesian demand-side economics--the notion that the way to produce employment and growth is through massive government spending. The real tragedy is that even after blowing hundreds of billions of dollars, Obama and many other Democrats failed to learn the lesson.

ObamaCare proved a political fiasco, showing that there are limits to Americans' willingness to tolerate the expansion of the welfare state. Because most provisions have not yet taken effect, the policy disaster is delayed and may be averted if either Congress repeals it in 2013 or the Supreme Court strikes it down as unconstitutional next year. The latter case would mark a huge legal defeat for liberalism. It would be the first time since the New Deal that the court has recognized a serious limitation on Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce.

Even something as small as Bank of America's recently announced $5-a-month debit-card fee is liberal policy failure. The fee is intended to recoup money lost by price controls on merchant fees included in last year's Dodd-Frank law.

The power of unions has diminished, with Wisconsin, the first state to establish so-called collective bargaining for government employees, having abolished it. "Card check," which would have enabled unions to take over workplaces without approval by secret ballot, couldn't even get past a Democratic Congress. Neither could "cap and trade," the administration's plan to combat global warming--a phenomenon increasingly many Americans suspect is a hoax.

The administration's only major success has been in the area of terrorism. Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki are dead, and long may they rot. But their deaths were not the result of progressive liberal policies. Except in the area of interrogation, the current administration has largely kept its predecessor's antiterror policies, albeit often reluctantly.

We can think of just one area in which liberalism has enjoyed unambiguous success during the Obama years: gay rights. The Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 would not have become law with a Republican in the White House.

The left got what it wanted in 2008: a liberal president with a sweeping agenda and big Democratic majorities capable of enacting it. The result has been a great and failed experiment in progressive politics and governance. In due course, one hopes, the left will absorb some lessons--but for now, they seem to be suffering a nervous breakdown.

That is one way to understand why so much of the liberal establishment is rallying behind Krugman's Army, as the "Occupy Wall Street" protests are known. Everything they believe in has failed, so they are turning nihilistic.

Sometimes the nihilism is good-naturedly goofy. The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson: "Occupy Wall Street and its kindred protests around the country are inept, incoherent and hopelessly quixotic. God, I love 'em. I love every little thing about these gloriously amateurish sit-ins." Vaginal monologist Eve Ensler, at the Puffington Host: "What is happening cannot be defined. It is happening. It is a happening."

But there are menacing themes and tactics too. "We may, at long last, be seeing the rise of a popular movement that, unlike the Tea Party, is angry at the right people," wrote former Enron adviser Paul Krugman last week. Krugman's New York Times colleague David Brooks notes that Adbusters, the magazine credited with the idea of the protests, was "previously best known for the 2004 essay, 'Why Won't Anyone Say They Are Jewish?'--an investigative report that identified some of the most influential Jews in America and their nefarious grip on policy." The demonization of "bankers," "plutocrats" and "the 1%" echoes age-old anti-Semitic tropes.

Politico reports that troops from Krugman's Army "are planning to protest at the homes of J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, businessman David Koch, hedge fund manager John Paulson, real estate developer Howard Milstein and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch." Harassing people at home was a favorite tactic of Saul Alinsky and was also used by the extreme antiabortion group Operation Rescue in the 1990s, as the Los Angeles Times reported then.

The People's House is a target too, reports the Daily Caller:

During an evening meeting at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., protesters discussed plans to storm Capitol Hill Tuesday and create chaos inside and outside House and Senate office buildings.

"We will have people going in over time into all the different doors of all the different buildings," said one of the organizers of the "Stop the Machine" movement to roughly 100 assembled protesters. . . .

"We will have all variety of creative actions including packing the elevators and pushing all the buttons and not getting out and stopping the hallways that connect the building to the other buildings and the banner drops and the song singing and don't let them in the bathrooms and all the rest of it," the aforementioned organizer said.

The Caller notes that " 'Stop the Machine' . . . is distinct from the Occupy D.C. movement currently occupying McPherson Square," although it seems to us that such distinctions are likely to be lost if, as so many establishmentarian liberals seem to be hoping, the left-wing protest movement continues to grow.

"Leading Democratic figures, including party fund-raisers and a top ally of President Obama, are embracing the spread of the anti-Wall Street protests in a clear sign that members of the Democratic establishment see the movement as a way to align disenchanted Americans with their party," reports the New York Times:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party's powerful House fund-raising arm, is circulating a petition seeking 100,000 party supporters to declare that "I stand with the Occupy Wall Street protests."

The Center for American Progress, a liberal organization run by John D. Podesta, who helped lead Mr. Obama's 2008 transition, credits the protests with tapping into pent-up anger over a political system that it says rewards the rich over the working class--a populist theme now being emphasized by the White House and the party. The center has encouraged and sought to help coordinate protests in different cities. . . .

He said Democrats are already looking for ways to mobilize protesters in get-out-the-vote drives for 2012. "What attracts an organization like CAP to this movement is the idea that our country's economic policies have been focused on the very top and not on the bulk of America," Mr. Legum added. "That's a message we certainly agree with."

What's their slogan going to be, "Smash the system--re-elect the president"?

One "senior House Democratic official" tells the Times: "That's the danger with something like this--that you go from peaceful protests to throwing trash cans." Throwing trash cans is an unlikely way to effect change, but it's an even unlikelier way of preserving the status quo.


Added: Oct-12-2011 Occurred On: Oct-12-2011
By: marc1921
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Tags: Obama, progressive, liberalism, Keynesian, failed, unions
Location: United States (load item map)
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