In a piece several months ago, during the more feverish segment of the 2008 Presidential campaign, I commented about Obama accusing McCain of trying to bring about the 3rd Bush term. I concluded then that I would prefer that to what Obama was promising, the 2nd Carter term. (I’ve even heard Christopher Buckley refer to it as the 1st McGovern term). Now, with McCain’s defeat, the former can’t come true and, with Obama’s announced selection of members of his administration, neither might the latter two.
The Obama assemblage of familiar names from recent history leads many to posit that he is slapping together the 3rd Clinton term. (The moment we hear that Monica Lewinsky has been named as Secretary of the Interior, we’ll know for sure.) However, Obama’s entering into an asexual ménage à trios with the Clintons in January 2009 will occur in a world vastly different from that of January 1993, when the Clintons sidled into the White House, courtesy of Ross Perot.
So, what has history to tell us about that difference and what might it whisper in our ear about Obama’s presidency?
1. CLINTON had won the White House with the support of only 43% of the voters, his victory aided in no small part by the 3rd party candidate, Ross Perot, garnering 19% of the popular vote.
OBAMA’s victory was less a blowout than many of his supporters expected, but he won convincingly, receiving 53% of the popular vote. Not exactly the mandate they were looking for, but a significantly more impressive win than Clinton’s.
2. CLINTON was handed a burgeoning economy, already on its way to record levels. After eight years, he handed off a declining economy, a recession to his successor, George W. Bush.
OBAMA will be greeted by a worldwide recession, at the root of which is the freezing up of the credit markets, caused principally by the Democratic Congress and their misuse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
3. CLINTON began his regime in a fairly peaceful world, the USSR no longer a threat. He was handed the ‘peace dividend’, the freeing up of large amounts of money which might otherwise have gone to Defense had Reagan not won the ‘cold war’. Despite a series of terrorist attacks on U.S. interests here (The World Trade Center in 1993) and abroad (Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, the United States embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in 1998, the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000), Clinton engineered major reductions in our military strength and did little to carry the fight to the terrorists. (Aspirin factories don’t count!)
OBAMA steps right into the middle of a worldwide jihadist threat, with on-going U.S. military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with Iran as an over-hanging menace. Fortunately for Obama, there is no longer an Arab-Israeli problem as Jimmy Carter solved that, as attested to by his Nobel Peace Prize……or, did I miss something?
4. CLINTON had a less than sparkling 1st two years, taking a long time to put his team together and making several missteps before the biggest one of all, HillaryCare. It took Newt Gingrich’s ‘Contract with America’ in 1994 to regain Republican control of Congress, leading to Welfare Reform, tax reductions and the first balanced budget in decades. Lord only knows what might have happened in the Clinton years had the Democrats continued to control both the Legislative and the Executive branches.
OBAMA, in contrast, is assembling his team early and it’s not unreasonable to hope he’ll be ready to move immediately after inauguration. However, with the three tenors in the White House (Barry, Hillary and Bill) and the back-up singers in the Congress (Nancy and Harry), hope is not an easy thing to come by. Apprehension is more like it. And, while we were all alarmed about Candidate Obama’s ‘share the wealth’ philosophy, the spate of recent and impending bailouts of just about every failing enterprise Congress and the Administration could find, has already turned Washington D.C. into Moscow on the Potomac. President Obama will be hard-pressed to do worse.
So, how will Obama govern? The psychological and monetary costs of the current financial collapse will impede (if not completely negate) his ability to throw the taxpayers’ money at every social problem. His desire to move to socialization (if such a desire really exists) may not be capable of fulfillment. As to Iraq, he will inherit a winning hand from George Bush and there’s a good chance he’ll play it out. The last thing Obama could afford to do is to acquiesce to his lunatic far-left fringe, pull out of Iraq prematurely, and let history saddle him with the disastrous consequences certain to follow. And how will he handle the Clintons? Quite possibly, we’ve been given a peek at the Hussein side of the Barack Hussein Obama gene pool. Is he acting in accordance with the old Bedouin admonition about it being better to have the camel inside the tent pissing out?
November 30, 2008