Step One: Tell the truth.
February 7, 2013
Three weeks into a second term that can’t end soon enough for half the country, people are belatedly grasping what they’re in for: something unlike anything ever seen from a leader—good, bad, or indifferent—holding this country’s highest office.
Widely presumed hapless only four months ago, Obama was being compared with Jimmy Carter, often unfavorably. Many said Carter was the all-time worst president, but by pondering whether Obama might be even worse they missed the point, twice. Carter was extraordinarily bad at being president, but not fundamentally unworthy of office by reason of hostility toward the American form of government. And it’s arguable that Obama is extraordinarily good at being the kind of president he wishes to be.
For more than four years, The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger has moved steadily closer to simply announcing the unfiltered truth. The week before last, he examined Obama’s habit of degrading solemn occasions like the inauguration and the 2010 State of the Union address.
Last week during the president’s second inaugural address, if one can employ that hallowed phrase to describe this speech, Mr. Obama used the occasion to defend entitlement programs by whacking his defeated presidential opponent: “They do not make us a nation of takers.”
This was the second time Mr. Obama used a traditionally elevated forum to take down his opposition. His 2010 State of the Union speech will be remembered in history for nothing other than an attack on members of the Supreme Court seated before him. Justice Samuel Alito’s whispered “Not true” would prove a prophetic comment on the Obama modus operandi.
Henninger’s most chilling lines:
“The good news is that John Boehner and Paul Ryan recognize that their relationship with this White House is not as partners in anything. They are prey.” And: “The original argument for the Obama presidency was that this was a new, open-minded and liberal man intent on elevating the common good. No one believes that now.”
None of this is exactly news, but a critical election horribly wasted by a complacent citizenry seems to have sparked more straightforward truth-telling. We may not have run out of chances yet.