Thursday, December 9, 2010

Olby's Indictment, Clause by Clause

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has done us all a favor. In his rant last Tuesday, after President Obama's own presser rant, he has delivered a bill of indictment against President Obama. He--or his writing team--has detailed the specific ways in which the liberal base feels betrayed. For that, we owe him a huge debt of gratitude. It takes a true believer to locate the emotional pulse of the liberal base and report on its flutterings.

So here is Olbermann's bill of particulars:

  • Rendition and domestic spying. Olby hits the "refusal of even the most perfunctory of investigations of rendition or domestic spying or the other crimes of the Bush Administration". Nothing has been achieved: any future administration can do the same.
  • Afghanistan. Liberals don't understand why we are there.
  • Continuation of Gitmo. Liberals don't get that either.
  • Single payer and public option. Olby faults the president's "preemptive abandonment."
  • Don't Ask Don't Tell. Olby faults "foot-dragging."
  • Getting less than he could have. Olby feels that the president expects liberals to be happy that the president isn't John McCain and that he saved us from another Great Depression. Given those amazing achievements, the president expects liberals to forgive him for settling for less than he could have on health reform and taxes.

In Olbermann's rage we see the elected Democrats starting to pay the price of riding the Angry Left bronco through the mid 2000s. By fanning the left's rage about President Bush and his forward strategy against radical Islam the Democrats set themselves up for an expectations crisis once they got back to power. The beltway Democrats knew that Bush wasn't a rogue president. Almost certainly they were consulted as Bush developed the nuts and bolts of his response to 9/11, including Gitmo and rendition. But they acted as if they were "shocked, shocked" that these decisions had been taken, and showed up in force at Michael Moore's agit-prop Fahrenheit 911 mockumentary.

Now they are paying the price. You'd have to search pretty hard to find any of Bush's strategy that hasn't been reluctantly confirmed by the Obamis. And the clearly different directions they took, most obviously the "reset" strategy of open arms to thug dictators, has been a disaster.

For chaps like me that voted for Obama precisely because we wanted the Democrats to be confronted with reality on the War on Terror, all this is good news. The reluctant embrace of the Bush strategy was always likely. But the rage in the Democratic base is a bonus.

The idea that Obama could have got a better deal from the Republicans on taxes does have merit. Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics thinks that Obama could have got a better deal. He could have dared Republicans to walk into the coffin corner of voting for a cold Xmas for the unemployed while sticking up for millionaires and billionaires.

Either way, the Democratic base is livid. And that can only for good for a center-right nation that wants to curb the excesses of big government.

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