November 17, 2010


Pretty in Pink? Obama’s Dark Night of the Soul (Walter Russell Mead, 11/16/10, American Interest)

There’s an epidemic now of repentance from Obama voters. That isn’t me. My eyes were open in the voting booth and I had a pretty good idea of what we were getting when I voted for him. I have always thought he was too liberal for the American people and too inexperienced to know it. I hoped things wouldn’t come to this point, but thought it was likely and still thought he was the best of the two available picks. You vote for the candidates you have.

I voted for Obama in 2008 not because I thought he was ready to be president or because I thought the Democrats had learned anything from the Bush years. I voted for Obama because the United States needs a government, and that is something that John McCain and the Republicans were simply unable to provide at the time. Incompetence, corruption and political decay had brought the Grand Old Party to a point of incoherence and systemic failure; the party was suffering a mental breakdown and it needed a nice, quiet rest. If we were to stick to President Bush’s timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, refocus our efforts on Afghanistan and take the edge off world anger at American foreign policy while stepping up drone attacks in Pakistan and keeping Guantanamo open until we found a realistic alternative, Democrats were going to have to do it. If we were going to return some semblance of stability to global financial markets and give the economy some support and a breathing space, that too would have to come from fresh leadership.

That President Obama would be out of his depth, that the resurgent Democrats would overplay their hand, that stale liberal pieties would not translate into effective policy at home or abroad and that contractors would not be surveying Mount Rushmore during Obama’s first term always seemed more likely than not. In some ways the administration disappointed even my meager hopes: turning the stimulus plan over to a poorly-led, pork-craving Congress to design was an unforced error that not even a rookie should have made. In other important respects, however, my slender hopes were fulfilled and a little more. On the whole and with some slips here and there, President Obama has handled the wars and the struggle against terror responsibly; he has not been ensorcelled by the Europeans into overestimating their world role and he has gotten the big picture in Asia largely right.

Given all this, the Republican victory in the midterms is a well-earned comeuppance and a healthy corrective; it is only too bad that voters have to reward one undeserving party in order to administer richly merited punishment to the other, but that is an inherent limitation of our two party system.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 17, 2010 6:13 AM
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