Friday, December 10, 2010

Hillary's victory over Obama

Jonah Goldberg reminds us of the debate during the 2008 primaries over how a president can best get things done. Obama said that his model was the inspirational rhetoric of Martin Luther King while Hillary Clinton said that, while inspiration was important, in the end it was the executive leadership of Lyndon Johnson that was crucial in actually enacting the landmark civil rights legislation of the mid-1960s.

During the campaign, all that Obama had to offer was his inspirational rhetoric. He didn't have the record of accomplishments usually sought in choosing our chief executive. And it has turned out that inspiration is not enough. Additionally, Obama turned out not to be that inspirational when it comes to gaining public support for his objectives. Despite all his many speeches, the public still opposes his the achievement of which he is most proud - the health care bill.
Fast-forward to this week. Obama's undisciplined diatribe against the "purists" in his own party who oppose compromise amounted to an abject admission that Hillary was right all along.

"Measuring success" by the no-compromise standard, Obama declared, means "we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are." But, he suggested, liberals will make little progress.

Obama then went on a stem-winder about how "this is a big, diverse country. Not everybody agrees with us. I know that shocks people. The New York Times editorial page does not permeate across all of America."

All true. And the Democrats are being foolishly purist, as we saw Thursday when House Democrats voted to reject the tax compromise.

But denouncing purists and accepting that significant swaths of America aren't going to be persuaded by your rhetoric is an admission that the Obama vision of the presidency either doesn't work or that Obama isn't up to the job of making it work.

Indeed, even on health-care reform, his signature accomplishment, Obama failed to mobilize and inspire the American people to his side. He got that passed with LBJ-like legislative skullduggery and sleight of hand, not "yes we can!" rhetoric.