THE MOST CATASTROPHIC AMERICAN PRESIDENCY IN OVER 80 YEARS
by Dan Henninger at the Wall Street Journal:
“You have to feel sorry for Democrats. In a world warming to presidential politics, what do they talk to each other about? Nearly two years from the election, they’ve already got their launch vehicle in place, former everything Hillary Clinton . Fire and forget.
The one-time First Lady, U.S. senator and Secretary of State pumped up a political crowd in Silicon Valley this week by vowing, presumably as president, to “crack every last glass ceiling.” As a political issue, the “glass ceiling” dates back to . . . 1984. It may be older than “income inequality.”
But anywhere else two people gather who aren’t Democrats, you will fall into the same intense political conversation with a one-word question: Whoduyalike? Who do you like among the names floating in GOP circles for the 2016 nomination? Walker, Bush, Paul, Rubio, Jindal, Perry, Cruz, Christie, Fiorina, Carson, Santorum, Pence. I kind of like . . .
Two significant meetings of conservative groups take place today through Saturday, and some of these people will pitch themselves at both the CPAC conference just outside Washington, and to the Club for Growth in Palm Beach. Mike Huckabee will preach on his own behalf Thursday evening to the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville.
It’s all great fun. But there’s something a little off about the Republican presidential conversation right now. It doesn’t come close to reflecting the seriousness of the task facing voters in 2016: Elect a successor to the most catastrophic American presidency in over 80 years. And it ain’t over yet.
Instead of offering an anxious electorate a recognizable alternative to this status quo, the Republicans look like they’re obsessed with discovering Captain America.
Their Captain America could be named Rand, Scott, Jeb or Marco, but the mere landing of this political superhero in the Oval Office will turn the country around. Really? That’s all it is going to take?
It is hard to overstate what one-man-shows these presidential candidates have become—one guy, some political pros they’ve hired, their donors and whatever thoughts are running through their or their pollsters’ heads.
In normal times, it might not matter much that a CPAC conference with its gauntlet of speeches and straw polls looks a lot like the NFL Scouting Combine. Chris Christie has no vertical leap, but man can he lift.
The task that Barack Obama is dumping on the next U.S. president, of either party, is overwhelming.
Here’s the job description: Needed, a U.S. president able to confront a world in chaos, rebuild shattered alliances, revive the country’s demoralized intelligence services and senior officer corps, manage foreign and domestic demands with a budget that will be drained for years by fantastically expensive debt servicing, and along the way restore public faith in an array of deeply politicized federal bureaucracies—Justice, HHS, EPA, Labor, Internal Revenue, the NLRB, FCC, EEOC, even the Federal Reserve.
The U.S. just tried electing a rookie president and had six years of amateur hour. It doesn’t work. And it won’t work again if the next president, whether rookie or former governor, shows up in the Oval Office in January 2017 with not much more than his victory cape and some political pals.
Given the scale of the challenge, the next U.S. president isn’t going to have a six-month honeymoon to figure out the policy details of what he wants to do. Whoever occupies the White House after the Obama Terminator presidency stops will have to hit the ground running from day one. Competent Cabinet secretaries and their deputies aren’t something you can grab off the shelf. The next president, before the Inauguration, will have to be someone who can attract about 100 of the most skilled and yes, experienced, people available into government.
By the way, the Clinton brigades could stock a respectable Democratic government overnight. Most of these Republican presidential candidates couldn’t name three people they’d bring into an administration today. One who could form a government? Paul Ryan , but he’s out of it. Jeb Bush, to his credit, has at least offered a list of foreign-policy advisers.
Normally, none of these issues of presidential competence or the details of post-election intent matter much this early in the selection process. With the hand the country and the world has been dealt, they matter a lot. And the anxious American electorate knows it. But the way the Republican nomination is developing doesn’t reflect that urgency. What one sees is mainly money and marketing. When does that stop and something identifiably presidential begin?
Given the new realities of politics, the only group that can press these candidates for more substance about how they would actually run or create a post-Obama government are the big donors. If they don’t do it, these candidates will deliver fundraising boilerplate—Control the borders! Replace ObamaCare! Restore respect for America!—from now til the final presidential debate.
Winning matters. But just winning this time isn’t going to be enough.”
Note: I do think Mr. Henninger miswrote using the number, 80, in number of years since the last “most catastrophic American presidency”.
I used to teach American history. I cannot think of a single administration so intellectually vulgar, so corrupt, so deceptive, so antithetical to the classical American dream and its JudeoChristian values, so tyrannically foreign in its political actions in our nation’s history.
The James Buchanan’s administration is usually accepted as the most inept of all American governments. But, Mr. Buchanan was merely a meek do-nothing with no particular political agenda cocked up to destroy the country. There was no George Soros, no Al Sharpton, nor an evil Eric Holder greasing the national wheels with sabotage, deceit, black racism, and feminism at the highest national level, 1857-1861..
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