VDH writes that “Here and abroad, the Obama administration damages whatever it touches,” and asks, “Is Obamism Correctable?”
On the rule of law:
There will be a temptation for a reform president to use the lawless means that Obama has bequeathed — executive orders to unconstitutionally bypass Congress; arbitrary suspension or simple non-enforcement of laws, depending on where we are in the national election cycle; exemption of party loyalists from legal accountability — to achieve the noble aim of restoring legality. But such short-cuts to reform would be a terrible mistake.
It would be quite illegal to ignore emissions standards the way Obama has ignored the Defense of Marriage Act; or to reduce, by fiat, the EPA to the present toothless status of ICE; or to allow a new sort of “sanctuary city” to refuse to marry gays, in the manner of San Francisco’s refusing to hand over illegal immigrants; or to arbitrarily remove particular owls and newts from the protection of the Endangered Species Act as Obama has picked and chosen which elements of the Affordable Care Act at any particular time he considered legally non-binding. Payback is very tempting, but eight more years of it would ensure that we would become another Zimbabwe or Venezuela. Instead, the next president must, as never before, obey both the spirit and the very letter of the law to restore to us what Obama has almost destroyed.
On the Alinsky-style politics:
In some sense, Obama proved a captive of his own political matrix. The Obama election strategy — successful in 2008 and 2012, a failure in 2010 and 2014 — was predicated on upping the polarizing rhetoric, extending social services, and embracing hip popular culture to achieve historic minority voter turnout and unprecedented block-voting patterns.
But in the blowback, the liberal Congress and many of the Democratic state legislatures were wiped out, and the country has been split apart. Obama’s legacy to the Democratic party is the loss of the white working classes, and the permanent need to achieve massive minority turnout and absolute liberal fealty at the polls. To do that will probably require institutionalized open borders, habitual racial haranguing, and the courting of the Al Sharptons of the race industry. Whether Obama knew that such racial voting would not be completely transferrable to his Democratic successors, while the hostility it engendered most certainly would be, remains a mystery. But that paradox raises what is perhaps the central issue of his presidency: whether he was a short-sighted incompetent naïf or a mean-spirited and narcissistic nihilist. Or both?
On collateral damage to political coverage:
There is not much of an idea any longer of investigative journalism. The press for the last seven years has largely chosen to become a Ministry of Truth. One reason why Donald Trump soars is that, after the press’s canonization of Obama, the public relishes Trump’s contempt for the media — and the latter have now lost the moral credibility to critique any candidate on the grounds of dishonesty, hypocrisy, narcissism, mendacity, or polarization of the electorate.