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Lowry and Ponnuru on Misreading the Meaning of Elections

Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru, in the cover story of the latest National Review, explain why "the herioc phase of Obama's presidency is over." Despite the mandate that Obama and Congressional Democrats saw for themselves after the last election, they show how the country has has not taken a leftward shift but rather has become more conservative. The article reads more like thoughtful post-election analysis rather than something written a week before an election, and it has some advice for Republicans that hopefully they will heed.
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My favorite line;
"Indeed, there is no topic on which Obama has moved public opinion in his favor during his presidency. He has chiefly persuaded Americans that he talks too much."

Something else that occurs to me as I watch the President perform in these final days of the 2010 election and the waning days of his administration's political relevance with the voters: "there is no topic on which public opinion has moved in his favor during his presidency" because he does not have any interest in so moving it. That would require a natural sympathy and a respect for the people that Obama is incapable of faking, never mind actually possessing!

If we can agree that President Obama conducts himself in the "persuasion by seminar" mode, I wonder if we can further establish that he is the sort of professor who, rather than reach out to bring his students up to where he is (or, should I say, where he sees himself), instead exhibits a kind of impatient distaste for students who cannot readily grasp his brilliance. He has no natural human sympathy for those who disagree with him as he sees them as something less than rational and, therefore, beneath contempt. It's impossible (to his mind) that he is wrong and it is equally impossible, as far as he's concerned, that a person can find fault with him and his policies unless that person is beyond reason. He does not bother to try to persuade people, therefore, because he considers them to be fools or knaves if they disagree. You are either with Obama (and therefore "progress" and "science" and all that is correct and blessed in this world) or you are "the enemy" (as he was happy to describe Americans who disagree with him when speaking today before a group of Hispanic voters).

Left wing critics of Bush and his arrogance would do well to recall their arguments from the height of their outrage with Bush and see how closely their new man resembles that argument . . .

"they show how the country has has not taken a leftward shift but rather has become more conservative."

So George Bush made the country move left, or at least to vote for the Left's candidates, and now Obama makes the country move to the right. It reminds me of square dancing and for the next year we do-si-do until the campaigning for the presidential election starts up.

While grinning at it, I do not disagree that persuading "to" with rhetoric and then persuading "against" with policy seems to be the mode of modern politics. From what I hear -- local folk venting -- in the Bush case they thought they were getting less government and got more. In the Obama case they thought they were settling for big government, but with the promise of a liberating efficiency. They did not get that either.

Did Bush think he delivered on less government? I don't think so. I'll have to read his book, his apologetic, but his attitude seems to have been that circumstances left him unable to do what he thought he would do.

Obama seems to think he delivered on his promise or maybe he misunderstood what people thought he was promising. Therefore he persuades against and the sensible politicians in his party run away from him. It's kind of funny.

Except we have to live with this. Still, when I think of the despair I felt after the 2008 election, that Obama had persuaded the nation to the Left -- well -- this is a most welcome development. I hope we do not hurt ourselves too much dancing around like we do.

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