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“The Ultimate ‘Blame Obama’ Column”: The Myth Of Obama The Tyrant Will Live On In The Conservative Imagination

Michael Barone is a colossal hack (not a total insult in my vocabulary), but not a big conservative ideologue. He rarely strays from the comfortable conventions of Beltway Republicanism. So when he comes up with something astounding, you have to figure it may be in tomorrow’s talking points all over the GOP Establishment.

His astounding idea is that Barack Obama is responsible for the signs of hatred towards said Establishment–including, of course, people like his own self–among the party faithful. For that matter, Obama is responsible for Hillary Clinton’s troubles, too.

In this presidential cycle, voters in both parties, to the surprise of the punditocracy, are rejecting experienced political leaders. They’re willfully suspending disbelief in challengers who would have been considered laughable in earlier years.

Polls show more Republicans preferring three candidates who have never held elective office over 14 candidates who have served a combined total of 150 years as governors or in Congress. Most Democrats are declining to favor a candidate who spent eight years in the White House and the Senate and four as secretary of state.

Never mind that on the Democratic side the supposed beneficiary of this hatred of experience is a guy who’s been in public office for 32 years, or perhaps (if he runs) Obama’s own vice president, who’s been in high office in Washington for 42 years. But don’t let me distract you from Barone’s line of argument:

Psephologists of varying stripes attribute this discontent to varying causes. Conservatives blame insufficiently aggressive Republican congressional leaders. Liberals blame Hillary Clinton’s closeness to plutocrats and her home email system.

But in our system the widespread rejection of experienced leaders ultimately comes from dismay at the leader in the White House.

Watch in awe as he plants that axiom deeply in the column and then races past the gates of delirium!

Republican voters are frustrated and angry because for six years they have believed they have public opinion on their side, but their congressional leaders have failed to prevail on high visibility issues. Their successes (clamping down on domestic discretionary spending) have been invisible. They haven’t made gains through compromise because Obama, unlike his two predecessors, lacks both the inclination and ability to make deals.

Where was Barone in 2011? Or for that matter, in 2009 when Mitch McConnell announced his conference’s goal would be to make Obama a one-term president?

[A] president who came to office with relatively little experience has managed to tarnish experience, incumbency and institutions: a fundamental transformation indeed.

Now I can understand why Republicans psychologically would prefer to disclaim any responsibility for the apparent madness that has overtaken big elements of their own party. But blaming Obama for, say, Donald Trump is so laughable that I’m amazed Barone could bring himself to suggest it. Wouldn’t you say the decades that conservatives have devoted to delegitimizing government and demonizing compromise might have a little more to do with this year’s revolt than Obama’s refusal to go along with the repeal of his major accomplishments and betray everybody who voted for him?

There is one thing Barone does convince me of, it’s this: if you thought the GOP habit of blaming Jimmy Carter for every bad thing that happened for many years after he left office was bizarre, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The myth of Obama the Tyrant will live on in the conservative imagination for many years to come.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 16, 2015

September 17, 2015 - Posted by | Conservatives, GOP Establishment, Republicans | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I keep searching for this horrible country and predicament that President Obama has put us in. Out economy has its longest growth period ever and is doing pretty well, but could always be better. We are much better off than most economies. The ACA is working pretty well by numerous measures, but could use some improvement. We are beginning to address climate change, but could do more and the president is still too supportive of fracking. And, he has formed several coalitions abroad and we are talking with former enemies which can only help break down barriers, just as two famous Republicans did – Nixon with China and Reagan with the USSR.

    The other point is the GOP thinks public opinion is with them is largely fallacious. When you only watch news and sources that tell you what you want to hear, you start to believe your own BS. Think of the surprise that Fox News (and Karl Rove) had when Obama beat Romney which Nate Silver said would happen with over 90% likelihood. The recent Supreme Court rulings on the ACA and gay marriage were predicted by many, yet there was surprise in conservative news. This former Republican and independent thinks the GOP platform is on the wrong side of future history on most major issues – climate change, infrastructure, immigration, poverty, environment, guns, LGBT issues, healthcare, etc. Yet, there is firm belief that their positions should be fought for by the Cruz crowd. Someone should ask Cruz if it bothers him that Texas is ranked dead last with the most uninsured in the country, why his state did not expand Medicaid and tell us why the ACA does he feel that ACA should not be advocated more as a solution?


    Comment by btg5885 | September 17, 2015 | Reply

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