Opinion

Opinion

Obama, liberals have overreached

October 10, 2010

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— Promoting his new book, Jimmy Carter, whose version of Christianity allows ample scope for what some Christians consider the sin of pride, has been doing something at which he has had long practice — praising himself. He is, he says, “probably superior” to all other ex-presidents and would have enacted comprehensive health care if a selfish Ted Kennedy had not sabotaged his plan.

Actually, one reason Carter, who promised to deliver government “as good as the American people,” lost 44 states in his 1980 re-election bid was that voters believed he considered himself too good for them. And they thought he did not know them — that he was disconnected from the way most people thought and felt.

Eight years later, another Democratic presidential candidate had a comparable problem. Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis had vetoed a bill that would have required public school teachers to lead their classes in the Pledge of Allegiance. Perhaps the bill was constitutionally problematic. But a presidential campaign is not a law seminar. Dukakis’ incomprehension of American political culture outside of Massachusetts was apparent when, responding to Republican insinuations about his patriotism, he said dismissively that “every first-year law student” studies flag-salute cases that vindicate his position.

Today, Barack Obama, a chronic campaigner, is out and about trying to arouse the masses against the inequity of not raising taxes on “the rich.” He opposes extending the Bush tax rates — they are due to expire Dec. 31, when a higher rate is restored — for “millionaires and billionaires.”

And for quarter-millionaires. Expiration would mean an increase for households with incomes of at least $250,000. Obama’s $750,000 fudge sweeps many people into the plutocracy. In Obama’s Chicago, a high-school principal can earn $148,000. A police officer with 25 years on the force can earn $114,000 — not counting overtime. If the principal and the officer are married, supposedly they are rich.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama said the rich begin at $150,000. If so, both the principal and the police officer are perilously close to becoming targets of liberal redistributionists.

The damage that has been done to the Democratic brand in just 20 months has encouraged comparisons of Obama to Carter, who seemed miniaturized by the presidency, and to Dukakis, who seemed mystified that Massachusetts’ political culture was not the national norm. There also is, however, an Obama resemblance to Lyndon Johnson.

Obama became president knowing next to nothing about Washington. Johnson began his career as a congressional staffer and spent almost all of his pre-presidential adulthood in Washington. But there is this similarity between them: overreaching.

Obama’s overreaching is testimony to what 44 years can do to a party’s memory. It has forgotten the 1966 elections, which cost Democrats three Senate and 47 House seats, abruptly terminating two years of liberal happiness that had followed 28 fallow years.

In 1938, five years into the New Deal, the public was weary of Washington’s hyperkinesis. Voters recoiled against FDR’s attempt to “pack” the Supreme Court by enlarging it, and his related attempt to purge conservative Democrats from Congress. After 1938, Republicans and conservative Democrats prevented a durable liberal legislative majority. Until the 1964 anti-Goldwater landslide.

Johnson carried 44 states, Democrats gained two Senate and 38 House seats, and hyperkinesis returned in the form of the Great Society agenda. Since 1966, liberal overreaching has been difficult. After November, it will be impossible, for many years.


For Obama, the worst result next month might be for Democrats to retain control of both houses of Congress. If they do, their majorities will be paralyzingly small. And their remaining moderates will be more resistant to the liberal leadership: The moderates will have survived not because of, but in spite of, those leaders.

Today, if you see Obama in a political ad, you are almost certainly watching a Republican ad. And a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that more than twice as many people view House Speaker Nancy Pelosi negatively (50 percent) than positively (22 percent).

If Democrats retain control of Congress, Obama will seek re-election while being perceived as responsible for everything in Washington, where everything is perceived to be dysfunctional. And anti-Washington fever may be worse than it is today, because the 2010 elections will not seem to have changed very much.

If Democrats lose both houses, Obama will seem repudiated. If they lose neither, he will seem impotent. So, if Democrats lose big, he loses big. If they lose smaller, he loses bigger.


— George Will is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group. georgewill@washpost.com

Comments

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

TAXES: Warren Buffett - Rich Taxed Too Little, Poor Too Much http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLD0p1...

Forbes CEO Network Chat Q&A: David Cay Johnston http://www.forbes.com/2004/02/12/0212chat_transcript.html

George Will is just making silly statements because his party is as criminal and reckless as they come. Plenty of documented evidence:

Study these facts and you will understand my position.

The Global Economy and Reagnomics are absolute failures for the USA!!!

This is what I mean:

  1. The Reagan/ Bush Savings and Loan Heist "There are several ways in which the Bush family plays into the Savings and Loan scandal, which involves not only many members of the Bush family but also many other politicians that are still in office and were part of the Bush Jr. administration.

Jeb Bush, George Bush Sr., and his son Neil Bush have all been implicated in the Savings and Loan Scandal, which cost American tax payers over $1.4 TRILLION dollars (note that this was about one quarter of our national debt").

The Reagan/Bush savings and loan heist was considered the largest theft in history at the time. George Herbert Walker Bush then took $1.4 trillion of taxpayers money to cover the theft. http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  1. The Bush/Cheney Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers Yes, substantial fraud was involved. For example, mortgage companies and banks used deceit to get people to take on mortgages when there was no possibility that the borrowers would be able to meet the payments. Not only was this fraud, but this fraud depended on government authorities ignoring their regulatory responsibilities." http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  2. Only 3 major Financial Institutions were at risk in spite of what we’re told ? "There were just a handful of institutions that were terribly weakened. AIG the insurer, Bank of America and Citigroup, Those three were clearly in very weakened form. Many of the other big banks simply were not. http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

  3. Privatizing Social Security Would Place the Nations Economy at Risk "Social Security privatization will raise the size of the government's deficit to nearly $700 billion per year for the next 20 years, almost tripling the size of the national debt.

Put simply, moving to a system of private accounts would not only put retirement income at risk--it would likely put the entire economy at risk." http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0505orr.html

  1. Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts - The ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class = tax increases for the middleclass. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

Flap Doodle 4 years, 9 months ago

What? The same set of links you've posted dozens, if not hundreds, of times despite the fact that nobody ever reads them anymore? Inconceivable!

Scott Drummond 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't think most Americans have "enjoyed" the last 30 years of capitalism's excesses. We are also less free and have less liberty than we did a mere 30 years ago. GM is only the recipient of large taxpayer loans because the, mostly, republican management of the company drove it in to the ground. You government is owned by the multi-nationals, huge media conglomerates and military/industrial complex. Your nation has not been of, by, or most importantly for the people since the Kennedys, MLK and anyone else foolish enough to buck the forces President Eisenhower warned the country about. Spare us the right wing propaganda, please.

Scott Drummond 4 years, 9 months ago

What "fact" is that Tom. That the corporate media tells us it is so? The thought manipulation being done is only to soften the public so that when the rigged voting machines produce right wing results there is less chance of a revolution. One day, however, the majority will discover their true enemy and there will be a reckoning to wipe this country clean.

Mr_B9 4 years, 9 months ago

The reckoning to wipe this country clean will be a terrorist with a suit case bomb and I pray to god this never happens. Current lame duck leadership has done nothing to protect our borders. Communists always said we would tear ourselves apart from the inside and then they would take over. It appears to me that is exactly what is happening and our socialist leadership is pointed due north and sailing us right off the edge of the earth. So blame who you want but the reality is that we better pull up our boots and start working together and leave the baby crying for the babies.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

History Documents Republican Party Destroys Banks and Our Economy Consistently Republican Party is responsible for huge job losses,loss of medical insurance,loss or retirement plans and loss of homes.

First it was Reagan/Bush then came Bush/Cheney = experts at wreckanomics

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

The S&L scandal is by no means the only incident of questionable, and actually illegal, financial activity that the Bush family has been involved in. The line of questionable, illegal, and unethical businesses practices goes back at least to Prescott Bush Sr., George Bush Sr.’s father. Prescott Bush was a Senator from 1952 – 1963. Previous to his time as a Senator Prescott was a banker and businessman.

Prior to the American entry into WWII Prescott Bush was director of Union Banking Corporation. Union Banking Corporation helped to finance Hitler’s regime. The Concentration Camps of Nazi Germany were labor camps that the Nazis used to make products for their regime as well as for sale to raise money. Prescott profited directly from the Auschwitz labor camp.

In 1942, after Hitler declared war on America the United States government seized the Union Banking Corporation under the Trading with the Enemy Act as a front operation that was supporting the Nazis. Much of the profits from the operation were already pocketed by Prescott however, and $1.5 million was put in a trust fund for George Bush Sr.

For more on Prescott Bush's ties to the Nazis see:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1312540,00.html

Flap Doodle 4 years, 9 months ago

Copy/paste, copy/paste, copy/paste. You passed ad nauseum ages ago, skippy.

Mike Ford 4 years, 9 months ago

it's hilarious that when the LJW's resident dumblicans are confronted with the sins of their "Annoited ones", how dismissive THEY are. Why don't you just put your fingers in your ears like the name calling nine year olds you really are. Facts don't matter to you... they don't matter to the Fox Network either.... a couple of weeks ago on here I brought up the fact that even former Reagan advisor David Stockman called tax cuts ineffective. Someone empirically gave up the Kool-Aid but the nine year olds on here won't.... oh well.....

Flap Doodle 4 years, 9 months ago

In the race to fill the Senate seat in Illinois that was occupied by Dear Leader and then some place-holder whose name escapes me, the Democrats have nominated Alexi Giannoulias. He fits right in the the rest of the corruptocrats that run Illinois. Case in point: "No matter the election results in the race for President Obama's old US senate seat in Illinois between Rep. Mark Kirk (R) and Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D), surely Giannoulias' Meet the Press comments about his family bank's loan practices -- repeated at least twice -- that he didn't "know the extent" of the criminal activity of convicted felons and reputed Chicago mob figures to which his bank loaned millions of dollars, will go down in the annals of all-time famous Chicago political quotes..." http://www.theneweditor.com/index.php?/archives/11928-Alexi-Gianoulias-Classic-Meet-the-Press-Moment.html

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 9 months ago

Yes, they have overreached.

They started two wars, one of which was a complete war of choice.

They indiscriminately cut taxes and increased spending on the wars.

They bailed out the financial industry with billions of dollars, all borrowed and without raising taxes.

Wait, who are we talking about here, again?

BigPrune 4 years, 9 months ago

If Republicans are running campaign ads with Obama in them, every good democrat will know it as a racist attack. All criticism of Obama is racially motivated. As it was in the past presidential election as it is today, any criticism of Obama is racist. Please refrain from criticizing our far reaching president. He is no better than Jimmy Carter. He, like Jimmy Carter, has turned our economy around and things are wonderful. In 30 years, Obama will be looked upon for advice - just as Jimmy Carter today. If our country remains the United States of America in 30 years.

beatrice 4 years, 9 months ago

No, only racist attacks are racist. Sorry you can't tell the difference.

JHOK32 4 years, 9 months ago

The facts are these: 1. Bush, not Obama, was the first President to give the big corporations & bankers bailout money without even any oversight.........we don't even know where $700 Biliion dollars went! So get off your high horse blaming Obama for the bailout when Georgie Jr. was the first to do it. 2. George Jr. started the war by invading Iraq to get their oil. Is there even one person in the entire country that still swallows the BS propaganda that he invaded this country for WMD's? 3. By invading Iraq, Bush forced the American taxpayers to pay $1 Trillion dollars so that his big oil buddies could make $Billions of dollars in profits..........have we already forgotten the unprecedented big oil profits that were being enjoyed under Bush? Do you really think that this was just happenstance? Unfortunately, 4000 of our kids paid for these profits with their lives & their limbs. Bush professes to be a Christian & he will have to answer to these murders some day.

Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 9 months ago

You dolt, Clinton authorized the first bombing runs into Iraq, and at the time it had a whole lot more to do with Saudi Arabia than it did oil. Tehnically, bush inherited the Iraq war. Furthermore, the bank bailout started under Bush jr. But passed under a democratic majority in the house and senate with many of the disenting votes coming from the minority. In otherwords, democrats passed the bailout. Get your story straight before attempting to advance your agenda.

beatrice 4 years, 9 months ago

Republican governors are running against Obama, while taking credit for all the good things they did for their states (thanks to the stimulus money). Bunch of bold-faced liars. Very sad.

Obama and the Democrats kept us from falling into a second Depression.

jumpin_catfish 4 years, 9 months ago

liberalism is mostly incurable while true conservatives are rare.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 9 months ago

Dear Leader and his many mindless minions have pushed us to the brink of a second Great Depression. Getting them out of the driver's seat in Congress is the first step in undoing the damage they've caused.

Mike Ford 4 years, 9 months ago

tom I don't want your money because you probably don't have that much. secondly, your retort about wanting somehting for free is the typical dumblican reponse to statements that either catch you all red-handed or are above your level of thought. oh well.....

pizzapete 4 years, 9 months ago

"In Obama’s Chicago, a high-school principal can earn $148,000. A police officer with 25 years on the force can earn $114,000 — not counting overtime. If the principal and the officer are married, supposedly they are rich."

Yea, they are definitely above middle class. Good for them. The average household income in the US is a little above $50,000, so these two are doing very well for themselves. I'm not saying they should be taxed even more, but they certainly aren't poor. Unfortunately, these people are in a minority as the majority of Americans are working class.

parrothead8 4 years, 9 months ago

What stats do you want? He only quoted one number. If you don't believe him, try Google. Or you could start with the U.S. Census Bureau, where you'll find that the median household income in the U.S. for 2009 was $50,221.

pizzapete 4 years, 9 months ago

I thought that was common knowledge. Sorry, maybe you need to get out more.

Ceee 4 years, 9 months ago

I disagree with Mr. Will when he says if Democrats retain both Houses people will blame Obama and Democrats for all that is dysfunctional in Washington. This person thinks there's plenty of blame to share. While Democrats are far from perfect, I have never seen a more obstructionist right wing ideologically biased group of individuals as is the current GOP. They tear down well; they do nothing to build. I long for the days of moderates like Bob Dole and diplomats like James Baker and Brent Snowcroft. These were people who worked across the aisle and across the world for the benefit of all. There aren't any Bob Doles out there now, just Mitch McConnells and Sarah Palins. God help us.

fancy80 4 years, 9 months ago

I get what you are saying. I really do, but I think both parties (Repubs and Dems) must take equal responsibilty for the partisianship that is going on right now. Please list a couple of democrats that are (seriously) trying to reach across the aisle. Let me save you some time...there aren't any.

Ceee 4 years, 9 months ago

President Obama attempted to involve Congressional Republicans in forming a deficit reduction committee. He was rebuffed and then the President appointed an advisory committee on the same topic that is currently functioning. To the consternation of his base, President Obama earlier had also attempted to negotiate with the GOP on health care issues. Remember all those phone calls to Olympia Snow? She was one of the few who was willing to talk.

riverdrifter 4 years, 9 months ago

Good post. That's about the size of it all.

monkeyhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

I think even the most lib of libs might not like this: (It's kind of like what the city leaders do in Lawrence all the time to steal achiever's money, only a little different.)

"Democrats in the Senate on Thursday held a recess hearing covering a taxpayer bailout of union pensions and a plan to seize private 401(k) plans to more "fairly" distribute taxpayer-funded pensions to everyone.

In a nutshell, under the GRA system government would seize private 401(k) accounts, setting up an additional 5% mandatory payroll tax to dole out a "fair" pension to everyone using that confiscated money coupled with the mandated contributions. This would, of course, be a sister government ponzi scheme working in tandem with Social Security, the primary purpose being to give big government politicians additional taxpayer funds to raid to pay for their out-of-control spending."

http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=39336

Betty Bartholomew 4 years, 9 months ago

Oh boo-frickin'-hoo! People with household incomes over $250,000 might have their taxes go up. Wah!

I spent four years in the San Jose area of California with a household income of about $150,000 per year, and we lived exceedingly comfortably. So I can't imagine a family making another $100,000 on top of that being so hard off just because they live in Chicago and their taxes go up. If they are experiencing hardship, they need to re-evaluate their lifestyle and spending habits instead of whining.

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