By Dave Andrusko
What a morning it was as my wife and I shared astonishment over two stories from today’s Washington Post. The stories are so remarkable I’ll offer separate posts.
The first will be reflections on David Nakamura’s story headlined, “Obama adopts a grand design to shape his legacy.”
The second–a puff piece even by the Post’s give-it-all-up-for-Hillary standards–is titled, “Always running, always prepared: Hillary Clinton as a high school politician,” and was written by Dan Zak.
The opening two paragraphs are a very good summary of the story. Nakamura writes
President Obama’s advisers are sensitive about his lame-duck status and insist that the White House is not exclusively in legacy-defining mode. But the president himself can’t seem to stop reflecting on his tenure and touting his accomplishments, while also trying to settle scores and rebut critics in the process.
In a series of lengthy interviews with magazine writers, newspaper columnists and historians — as well as in a couple of his own long-form essays — Obama has been presenting a favorable narrative of his presidency, framing it as a historic moment that managed to rise above unprecedented partisanship.
At the risk of repeating myself, you can’t make this stuff up. Is it possible to exaggerate just how hyper-partisan President Obama has been–from the very first few months of his first term on? I would argue no.
To say that he is in love with himself is like saying the sun is hot, spring is wet, and Democrats love abortion. Disagreement with him was/is, by [his] definition, thwarting what ought to be the unthwartable.
“Accomplishments”? Please. The economic foundation of ObamaCare–his “signature domestic achievement,” which he and his fellow Democrats strong-armed through Congress–is collapsing. As Charles Krauthammer recently wrote
More than half its nonprofit “co-ops” have gone bankrupt. Major health insurers like Aetna and UnitedHealthcare, having lost millions of dollars, are withdrawing from the exchanges. In one-third of the U.S., exchanges will have only one insurance provider. Premiums and deductibles are exploding. Even the New York Times blares “Ailing Obama Health Care Act May Have to Change to Survive.”
And that doesn’t even include what Bill Clinton (of all people) said a couple of weeks ago about ObamaCare:
You’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care, and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half and it’s the craziest thing in the world…Figure out an affordable rate and let people use that. Something that won’t undermine your quality of life, won’t interfere with your ability to make expenses and save money, and let people buy into Medicare or Medicaid.
All presidents hope to have some say in how they are judged by history, usually relying on august farewell addresses and blockbuster memoirs. But Obama has started earlier and seems more publicly strategic than his predecessors about framing his legacy. He is determined to get the jump on his critics about how his presidency is preserved for posterity.
So far, a central theme has been to cast himself as the rational actor in an arena full of irrational ones.
Think about that for a second. What Nakamura misses, or chooses to avoid, is this has been Obama’s strategy from Day One. Portray Republicans as obstructionists whose only purpose is to subvert his middle-of-the-road, commonsensical proposals.
Where/when/how has the President ever treated Republicans as equal partners whose counsel is worth listening to? Who, in other words, acted irrationally and who poisoned the well?
Final thought. Nakamura notes that neither Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush “tout[ed] their legacies in the final years.” He doesn’t note that neither Clinton nor Bush aggressively interjected themselves in the contest to succeed them which Obama has done–with increasing obnoxiousness– all this year.
We can only hope that once Obama has left the White House and his courtiers (reporters) feel it is safe, we may begin to get the truth.