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Thanks to Democrats Americans Got the Blues

August 8, 2010

You may know that the French Cowboy has never been a big fan of Peggy Noonan. Sure, she is by far not the worst political commentator out there. But sometimes I wish she wouldn’t be considered a conservative because she seems to adapt her opinions to the mood of a narrow intellectual circle composed of liberals and of fence-sitters. Having said that, let me quote her approvingly from her latest column:

The country I was born into was a country that had existed steadily, for almost two centuries, as a nation in which everyone thought—wherever they were from, whatever their circumstances—that their children would have better lives than they did.


Parents now fear something has stopped. They think they lived through the great abundance, a time of historic growth in wealth and material enjoyment. They got it, and they enjoyed it, and their kids did, too: a lot of toys in that age, a lot of Xboxes and iPhones. (Who is the most self-punishing person in America right now? The person who didn’t do well during the abundance.) But they look around, follow the political stories and debates, and deep down they think their children will live in a more limited country, that jobs won’t be made at a great enough pace, that taxes—too many people in the cart, not enough pulling it—will dishearten them, that the effects of 30 years of a low, sad culture will leave the whole country messed up. And then there is the world: nuts with nukes, etc.

In other words, pessimism is crawling through the nation. Through a nation that is — or at least always was — wired for optimism. Noonan goes on:

But do our political leaders have any sense of what people are feeling deep down? They don’t act as if they do. I think their detachment from how normal people think is more dangerous and disturbing than it has been in the past.


To take just one example from the past 10 days, the federal government continues its standoff with the state of Arizona over how to handle illegal immigration. The point of view of our thought leaders is, in general, that borders that are essentially open are good, or not so bad. The point of view of those on the ground who are anxious about our nation’s future, however, is different, more like: “We live in a welfare state and we’ve just expanded health care. Unemployment’s up. Could we sort of calm down, stop illegal immigration, and absorb what we’ve got?” No is, in essence, the answer.

Mme Noonan isn’t the first to diagnose the state of the nation in this fashion. A few weeks ago, Zbigniew Brzezinski said he thinks Americans are suffering from “pervasive malaise “– and having been Carter’s National Security Adviser he should know what he’s talking about. Like Mme Noonan, Monsieur Brzezinski thinks that it’s the leaders, namely Obama, to whom we have to look for an as of now lacking national pick-me-up. (Brzezinski suggests that Obama needs a cause that rallies Americans to the flag, which is an ironic assessment of the administration whose motto is to never let a crisis go to waste. Besides, it clearly can’t be the lack of crises that’s the problem here.)

Let the French Cowboy suggest at this point that Obama may not only deliver the cure to America’s depression, but that he can do so (at least in theory) mostly because he is the very author of it. And in that sense, I don’t agree with what Noonan seems to imply, which is that Obama is making things worse by his tin-eared way of governing. He doesn’t only make things worse, he made them bad in the first place.

Consider that with the election of Obama the nation was in a state of rapture over the new leader of the free world with the silver tongue, the buff upper body and the African ancestry. There was exuberance and a feeling of a fresh new start. Even the sceptics were giving Obama their goodwill after the inauguration. And yet, less than half way into Obama’s first term, we hear from the Left and one of the biggest RINOs that Americans have uncharacteristically morphed into a nation of pessimists. Something must have gone awfully wrong.

So how did Obama manage such a rapid and steep decline? Let’s count the ways. The continuation of the bank bailouts might have been forgivable as decisions had to be made fast and very early in the presidency of an inexperienced man. But the expansion of bailouts to the automobile industry was predictably unpopular. Ditto the home owner bailouts. Health care wasn’t even on many people’s radar before Obama turned the health care system into Frankenstein’s monster. The stimulus bill was an $800 billion failure. Obama established 14-digit numbers in public debt as the new normal. Signalling weakness to the rest of the world and stirring domestic divisiveness (political, cultural and racial) didn’t help to strengthen US spirits either.

If there is a general pessimism spreading in the US then this is because Obama’s policies have longterm consequences that will be hard to reverse even by a new president by 2012. A majority of Americans favours repeal of ObamaCare but few believe that it will happen. And among those who don’t favour repeal, many aren’t so much in favour of ObamaCare as they are afraid of personal economic hardships down the road and only hope to benefit from what has been advertised as free health care. And why do they fear economic hardships? Because businesses are virtually paralised by uncertainty generated by an administration that likes to pick winners and losers while ignoring rules written and unwritten.

Certainly, the Obama administration is aloof and insensitive to the nation’s mood. And, yes, they could use a banner under which Americans want to assemble in unity. But the mood is as it is because the Obama White House has been juggernauting public opinion from the get-go. And the banner under which the largest parts of the nation are spontaneously coming together is that of the Tea Party which, not by complete coincidence, stands diametrically opposed to Obama’s political philosophy.

On the bright side, having identified the root cause of Americans’ low spirits, we find that they’re not an inexplicable change of character that might last for who knows how many decades. Instead, we can be fairly confident that, even though some of his policies can never be reversed and others only unlikely so, once Obama has been relieved by a more suitable person — someone who lives and breathes American optimism him- or herself instead of looking at it like at a topic of a sociology seminar — things, along with Americans, should begin to look up again. And then they’ll see something better than fake Greek columns.

And while the White House occupants will remain there until 2012, a step in the right direction will be made very soon as Capitol Hill will see its changing of the guard in the coming months.

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