-By Warner Todd Huston
Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, lefty political commentator, and so-called “economist,” is despondent over the failure of President Obama to “tell Americans the truth” about the budget debate now coursing through Washington D.C. Reich is very typical of how the far left in American politics is furious at Obama’s constant failure to go as far left as they want him to go. As absurd as it is, Reich’s ire is something worth keeping in mind.
Naturally Reich started his HuffPost screed slamming Republicans as the “most irresponsible and rigidly ideological” he’s ever seen them. This is, of course, because we are finally seeing Republicans that don’t automatically roll over and cave in to every left-wing demand as a first move. But, such as it is.
But after his paean to the hate-the-right meme, Reich gets to his Obama laments. Reich pins some of the mess we are in right on Obama and, “his inability or unwillingness to use the bully pulpit to tell Americans the truth, and mobilize them for what must be done.”
Reich indulges the prosaic claim that Obama is the smartest man in human history — not that this can in any way be substantiated — but this absurd claim is one of the accepted factoids by the left that makes them really confused as to why Obama has been from their perspective so feckless as president.
Barack Obama is one of the most eloquent and intelligent people ever to grace the White House, which makes his failure to tell the story of our era all the more disappointing and puzzling. Many who were drawn to him in 2008 (including me) were dazzled by the power of his words and insights — his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, his autobiography and subsequent policy book, his talks about race and other divisive issues during the campaign.
The reality is that Obama is not a great thinker. He is not a great leader. He is no deep philosopher, no expert politico, no hardnosed wielder of power. What he is, and this is not insignificant, is a great bluffer, a great con man. This truth has been readily seen over Obama’s entire life. He’s always been able to employ the most convincing tone, using all the best buzz words, and is able to convey a sense that he is the one in the know.
His oratory is not soaring by any means, but he feigns sincerity better than anyone in public life today. His speeches are filled to the brim with bromides and double speak. It is certainly left-wing, but when listening to him speak makes people get caught up in his cadence and rhetoric. It all just sounds so good. But, try reading what he said. Once you do you’ll see how ridiculous it all is.
Further, all one need do to be disabused of Obama’s brilliance is look at his list of actual accomplishments. Doing so will prove that an empty suit lurks behind Obama’s expert public relations image. Obama had no great achievements in school, he had no amazing achievements in his life as a community organizer, he did practically nothing in Illinois state government, he was a no show Senator when he made it to Washington, and as president he’s “led from behind” so much that he has championed exactly one successful law — Obamacare — and even that is hated by far more people than like it.
So, when Obama came up through the ranks spouting every left-wing trope, gave lip service to every union demand, spouted the most socialist rhetoric possible without donning a Mao suit, it is not surprising that the far left, like Reich, have been disappointed by his dearth of actions on their behalf. After all, they expected Obama to cruise into office and turn this country into a less powerful version of France or the Soviet Union redux. He failed to come through on the left’s and Reich’s desires.
Reich goes on to make some hard analysis of what could be wrong with Obama. After allowing that the president may just be caught up in the Washington milieu, Reich posits a more cutting reason.
A more disturbing explanation is that he simply lacks the courage to tell the truth. He wants most of all to be seen as a responsible adult rather than a fighter. As such, he allows himself to be trapped by situations — the debt-ceiling imbroglio most recently — within which he tries to offer reasonable responses, rather than be the leader who shapes the circumstances from the start.
Obama cannot mobilize America around the truth, in other words, because he is continuously adapting to the prevailing view. This is not leadership.
Reich still gives Obama too much benefit of the doubt. Obama has never, ever been a leader. Never. He has no record of coming up with long term policies and seeing them to fruition through the process. He has always been little else but a bringer of bromides afraid to lose by actually leading. He’s been all things to all people with his smooth public persona, but he’s never been a real leader.
The left filled Obama’s empty vessel with their own desires. They saw what he wanted them to see, a man that would lead their far left agenda to their satisfaction. It’s no wonder that the reality of Obama has come to disappoint them.
Now, this is not all to say that Obama is not a leftist. He most certainly is. If the way was cleared for him by others — like the rest of his life had been — he absolutely would bring to us all a new U.S.S.R. He is by ideology a statist, a leftist, an anti-capitalist, a hater of American exceptionalism. But he is not a doer to the point where he is capable to bringing all these desires to fruition by the force of his leadership.
As it is Obama’s class warfare rhetoric has helped destroy any sense of recovery and his inept leadership during this debt crisis has done nothing to ease the world’s worries that the U.S. is falling to its knees. Were it up to him and him alone, the U.S. would be falling even farther into decline.
So, why is this all so instructive, why is this all something worth keeping in mind as I said at the top? It is instructive to see where the reality of Obama’s far left administration as measured against the even farther leftism of what folks like Reich want to see occur. Obama’s leftism has failed miserably, yet his ever more annoyed far left followers want to go even farther down the path of failure.
At this point, we can only thank the good lord that Obama is as much of a failure for the left as he is. Imagine how bad it would be if he were an effective left-wing president!