March 10, 2014

My kingdom for an excuse

When George W. Bush made mistakes, and he made quite a few, conservatives were quick not to rush to his defense but to criticize him.  At least that was the case when they thought he was doing something wrong (remember the not so conservative Harriet Miers?).  Not so, liberals with Obama.  They defend Obama to the point of absurdity.  But it is more than just a defense of the indefensible, it goes as far as lionization of the president in his defense.  Still, to this day they do it, even in their "criticisms" of him.

Witness Ron Fournier's recent article in National Journal.  From the outset, he positions his criticism, as the title suggests as that of a man blinded by righteousness.  And Fournier means Obama's own righteousness.  He's making mistakes because he's too smart and to blinded by doing the right thing.
Days before Vladimir Putin's troops invaded Ukraine, National Security Adviser Susan Rice dismissed suggestions that Russia was about to pounce. "It's in nobody's interest," she said. Days later, President Obama declared the invasion to be illegal. "In 2014," he said, "we are well beyond the days when borders can be drawn over the heads of democratic leaders."

Two things strike me about those quotes. First, they were right. From the viewpoint of the United States and its allies, invading Crimea made no sense, legally or strategically. Second, it didn't matter: Putin plays by his own set of rules, and it's dangerously naive not to realize that.

Ukraine is illustrative of a flaw in Obama's worldview that consistently undermines his agenda, both foreign and domestic. He thinks being right is good enough. From fights with Congress over the federal budget and his nominations, to gun control, immigration reform, health care, and Syria, the president displays tunnel-vision conviction, an almost blinding righteousness. I'm right. They're wrong. Why isn't that enough?
With a scant mention that Obama isn't always completely right, Fournier skips ahead to explain the impact of Obama's self satisfied certainty.  In other words, Obama's simply hurting himself by being completely right, or mostly right, and not condescending to work with others.
With such certitude, Obama finds it hard to see why anybody would oppose him, which makes it almost impossible to earn new allies. He's also slow to realize when some fault lies with him. The result is Obama's legacy of "Right, but …" moments.
Fournier provides a litany of items on which he believes Obama was/is right but wasn't being political enough to bring his rightness on issues like immigration reform or health care reform.

Except Obama wasn't right on a lot of these issues. The public opposed a lot of these items, not just Republicans. The problem is having lionized Obama for so long, liberals now cannot even defend him properly because they start from a flawed premise that Obama's only flaw is that he can't deal with idiots. Clearly the real problem though is that the president, and many liberals just can't deal with reality.

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