Jimmy Carter, meet your soul mate, Barack Obama.
But does the country really care anymore? And Romney is Mr. Milquetoast, not a feisty and fighting Ronald Reagan.
These vicious events can't help Obama, but I have the feeling they won't hurt him much. Maybe it's just me, but I don't have any sense that the country is 1) fighting or spitting mad about anything, and 2) gas prices, unemployment, food stamps, no growth, no jobs -- it doesn't seem to be registering with anyone who isn't already committed to conservatiism.
Maybe it's the mass media being able to suppress the bad news, but I find that hard to believe. We hit another trillion for the deficit this year (and we're not done) and that doesn't seem to alarm many people.
What bothers Americans these days? Taxes don't bother them. Deficits don't bother them. Spending doesn't bother them. The TSA doesn't bother them. Paying multi-billions to illegal immigrants don't bother them. Obama as dictator ruling by fiat doesn't bother them. Soldiers dying in Afghanistan for no reason doesn't bother them.
What the hell bothers the undefined idiot, middle of the road, undecided, moderate group of Americans who decide at the last second if they'll vote and who'll they vote for?
Is there anything more frustrating than having the fate of your nation decided by a group of ignorant, indifferent, hardly paying attention idiots every election?
Maybe it's all because people have given up. After decades of being robbed by government and losing freedom after freedom, cowed by political correctness, besieged by the Left on all fronts -- maybe Americans have just given up like the ancient Romans who invited the Visigoths into Italy to end their misery at the hands of Roman taxation and ruination.
Or this is what prosperity does, even in decline, to people. It atomizes them; breaks them up into so many competing interests, individual isolation, and destruction of cohesiveness.
Or is it mainly just having another Carter, only worse, at the helm that depresses everything? Having such a mendacious worm at the top is enough to depress any people. Perhaps, America cannot believe they elected a nation wrecker as they did. Of course, they can't believe they did, because that would mean they were dumb, stupid, gullible morons and fools.
And if it's one thing an American cannot do, is to ever think badly of himself or his judgment and intelligence.
Spengler had some very cogent things to say back in Feb. 2008 about Obama and America:
Barack Obama is a clever fellow who imbibed hatred of America with his mother’s milk, but worked his way up the elite ladder of education and career. He shares the resentment of Muslims against the encroachment of American culture, although not their religion. He has the empathetic skill set of an anthropologist who lives with his subjects, learns their language, and elicits their hopes and fears while remaining at emotional distance. That is, he is the political equivalent of a sociopath. The difference is that he is practicing not on a primitive tribe but on the population of the United States.
There is nothing mysterious about Obama’s methods. “A demagogue tries to sound as stupid as his audience so that they will think they are as clever as he is,” wrote Karl Krauss. Americans are the world’s biggest suckers, and laugh at this weakness in their popular culture. Listening to Obama speak, Sinclair Lewis’ cynical tent-revivalist Elmer Gantry comes to mind, or, even better, Tyrone Power’s portrayal of a carnival mentalist in the 1947 film noire Nightmare Alley.
America has the great misfortune to have encountered Obama at the peak of his powers at its worst moment of vulnerability in a generation. With malice aforethought, he has sought out their sore point.
Since the Ronald Reagan boom began in 1984, the year the American stock market doubled, Americans have enjoyed a quarter-century of rising wealth. Even the collapse of the Internet bubble in 2000 did not interrupt the upward trajectory of household assets, as the housing price boom eclipsed the effect of equity market weakness. America’s success made it a magnet for the world’s savings, and Americans came to believe that they were riding a boom that would last forever.
Americans regard upward mobility as a God-given right. America had a double founding, as David Hackett Fischer showed in his 1989 study, Albion’s Seed. Two kinds of immigrants founded America: religious dissidents seeking a new Promised Land, and economic opportunists looking to get rich quick. Both elements still are present, but the course of the past quarter-century has made wealth-creation the sine qua non of American life. Now for the first time in a generation Americans have become poorer, and many of them have become much poorer due to the collapse of home prices. Unlike the Reagan years, when cutting the top tax rate from a punitive 70% to a more tolerable 40% was sufficient to start an economic boom, no lever of economic policy is available to fix the problem. Americans have no choice but to work harder, retire later, save more and retrench.
This reversal has provoked a national mood of existential crisis. In Europe, economic downturns do not inspire this kind of soul-searching, for richer are poorer, remain what they always have been. But Americans are what they make of themselves, and the slim makings of 2008 shake their sense of identity. Americans have no institutionalized culture to fall back on. Their national religion has consisted of waves of enthusiasm – “Great Awakenings” – every second generation or so, followed by an interim of apathy. In times of stress they have a baleful susceptibility to hucksters and conmen.
Be afraid — be very afraid. America is at a low point in its fortunes, and feeling sorry for itself. When Barack utters the word “hope,” they instead hear “handout.” A cynic might translate the national motto, E pluribus unum, as “something for nothing.” Now that the stock market and the housing market have failed to give Americans something for nothing, they want something for nothing from the government. The trouble is that he who gets something for nothing will earn every penny of it, twice over.
Even those who despise America for its blunders of the past few years should ask themselves whether the world will be a safer place if America retreats into a self-pitying shell.
It's that American susceptibility to the Elmer Gantrys that chaps my hide. I like American earnestness, friendliness, and helpfulness. But that eternal need of Americans to feel pleased and proud of themselves which is so easily manipulated and gulled, that gets hard to take.
I suppose Europeans aren't any better, or people elsewhere when it comes to being swindled or demagogued, but here's where I experience it more and for the worse.