As the nation swept the Democrats to the curb on November 2, the sheer relief of having been rescued from consignment to a collectivist dustbin was a blast of pure oxygen. Obama was not only crushed; he was disowned. While the absolute gains in Congress and State Houses all across the country were stunning enough, it was the speed of the about-face that was astonishing and epic.
Just two years ago, Obama was hailed as a 21st-century Lincoln, the figurative progeny of FDR and JFK combined. The finest dramatic speech-maker since Sir John Gielgud dominated the Shakespearean stage. The most gifted political orator since Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King. The long-awaited enlightened emperor who would soothingly heal rifts abroad, seamlessly ushering in a new era of social justice while effortlessly repairing a broken economy at home.
Instead, we now have a broken president. His domestic agenda is dead — è morto. His legislative gains will soon be disarmed, if not unraveled. His agenda abroad fares no better. The embarrassing extravaganza in India was another lavish display of his ignorance of history — this time about India and Pakistan. And his cowardly evasion in defining jihad was injury enough. How insulting to Indian lawmakers to witness in their own chamber that Obama was no orator — just a mere speech-reader, carrying his teleprompter like an IV drip, the first-ever orator in that body to require the mechanical cue cards.
Our hapless president was outdone only by the excesses displayed by his wife. More diamond-studded belts and broaches and wear-only-once satin dresses and shopping bags bursting at the seams while two out of ten of her broke fellow Americans endure another day out of work waiting for the sheriff to serve foreclosure papers.
Contrast this empty and obscene pomp with FDR’s modest yet practical choice of venues for meeting foreign dignitaries — the state rooms of U.S. Navy cruisers such as the USS Augusta. Or Eleanor’s selfless outreach to poor coal miners in Appalachia and her numerous visits to CCC camps all across the country in the 1930s.
Can this man, our president, and his lady be any more imaginative in finding ways to remove themselves from the realities of everyday Americans? Was this a vain attempt at recapturing the Star of India glitter or simply Obama’s last hurrah, the favorite meal and final cigar of a man condemned to the gallows?
What remains of his presidency? Where can he go from here?
With liberals desperately searching for any Lazarus scenario, Obama has neither the issues nor the votes to mount any revival. Is there any foreign policy issue that he can win? How will appeasing radical Muslims, continuing to prosecute a war he doesn’t believe in, piling on further debt that leaves even European socialists gasping, devaluing the dollar by monetizing our debt, and happily denying America’s greatness in the world be winning issues?
Is there a single domestic initiative remaining — energy, labor, environment, taxes, or social justice — where his brand of collectivist big government solutions will have the ear of the American people and the votes in Congress? And he doesn’t have the votes in the Senate to name any more Supreme Court justices.
We are a nation without a president.
Of course, the office isn’t vacant in a physical or literal sense. Obama still occupies that titular role as head of state, commander-in-chief able to conduct transactions. He still commands the vast regulatory bureaucracy capable of sustaining a life of its own and able to inflict considerable damage.
Yet when we consider the modern version of the president as the inspirational leader of a free people, as the advocate and defender of America’s greatness around the globe, as the champion of the oppressed and dispossessed while exhorting the self-confidence of individual achievement, the presidency under Obama has shriveled up, been rendered virtually irrelevant.
Perhaps the lesson of November 2 is that the notion of this nation embracing a Moses-like deliverer of the promised land has run its course. The founders never envisioned a government where so much power, except for the ability to wage war, would rest with the Executive. It was the House of Representatives — close to the ground, diverse, and even fragmented — where the power, the power of the people, was to reside. And the First and Tenth Amendments reserved distributed authority for the people.
The results of November 2 declared a presidency broken but more importantly asserted the primacy of self-government, locally owned and locally operated. A broken presidency, this time, is not to be mourned, but cheered.