If you need a handy reference to what an utterly out-of-touch politician looks like, bookmark Barack Obama’s post-midterm press conference from Wednesday afternoon. Even his friends in the press looked uneasy, and the reviews from every journalist with an ounce of skepticism were downright brutal. Here’s Ron Fournier at National Journal:
Shellacked and thumped by an angry electorate, President Obama declared to every American who voted in Tuesday’s elections???and to those who’ve checked out of the political process???”I hear you.”
And then he ignored them.
From all appearances Wednesday, the president won’t change???not his policies, not his style, not his staff, not nothing. Defiant and begrudging, the president said he would meet with GOP leaders, seek their suggestions for common ground, and maybe grab a drink with Senate Majority Leader-to-Be Mitch McConnell.
Democrat hearts sank into the pits of their stomachs as Obama moseyed up to the podium and delivered the exact same campaign speech he’s been giving since he started running for President. He even worked in a demand for more spending on roads and bridges. You could hear the needle on the Victrola scratching as the dusty old record of Obama campaign rhetoric wobbled on its ancient turntable.
Fournier’s summary of the “outreach” portion of Obama’s remarks is quite apt: he did indeed suggest knocking back some Kentucky bourbon with the new Senate Majority Leader, and his idea of compromising with the triumphant Republicans who just laid waste to Democrats was to invite the victors to capitulate to him. To no one’s surprise, Obama looked at an election where the American people could not possibly have made their desire to defeat his agenda more clear – all of those Republican winners explicitly campaigned on doing so, and Obama was so toxic that some of the defeated Democrats wouldn’t even cop to personally voting for him – and declared it was a mandate for bipartisan cooperation.
And then came the creepy little bit of totalitarianism that is bringing more heads around in surprise and horror, as the President’s remarks filter out to a broader audience this morning:
Obviously, Republicans had a good night. And they deserve credit for running good campaigns. Beyond that, I???ll leave it to all of you and the professional pundits to pick through yesterday???s results.
What stands out to me, though, is that the American people sent a message, one that they???ve sent for several elections now. They expect the people they elect to work as hard as they do. They expect us to focus on their ambitions and not ours. They want us to get the job done. All of us in both parties have a responsibility to address that sentiment.
Still, as president, I have a unique responsibility to try and make this town work. So, to everyone who voted, I want you to know that I hear you. To the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too.
In other words, elections don’t really matter all that much, because His Radiant Majesty King Barack I knows what’s really in the hearts of the people, and will rule according to his telepathic divination of what people who don’t vote really want… or, more to the point, according to what the King knows is good for them. I must confess that when I was putting together a field guide to Democrat spin on their midterm catastrophe yesterday, I didn’t think of including “elections don’t matter unless Democrats win.”
That’s my bad, because I really should have seen it coming. Obama’s anti-democracy thoughts are really just an extension of a decades-old leftist meme that when Republicans win elections, the margin of victory is never enough to give them a “mandate.” Of course, they never advance that idea when Democrats win – victory by a single vote is mandate for unlimited power under those circumstances, even if the one vote was mysteriously discovered in the trunk of a Democrat precinct supervisor’s car the day after the election. Don’t try telling a liberal that Bill Clinton didn’t have a “mandate to govern” because he won with 41 percent of the vote in a freak three-way presidential contest.
But now, when Republicans make history with a tsunami election that blows political analysts out of their seats, it doesn’t really count, because only a third of the potential electorate bothered to haul themselves to the polls. This fits neatly in with the fashionable liberal academic notion that we have too darn many elections in this country, and should just get rid of midterms altogether. Give the shameless hucksters and despotism enthusiasts of the Left credit for remarkable message discipline and coordination – you hear a few rumbles of these dopey ideas in op-eds hear and there, and then suddenly the President is endorsing the narrative, and his mind-numbed robot followers will repeat it through ten thousand blogs. In no time flat, you’ll have Democrats across the land remarking that elections don’t really mean anything unless some arbitrary percentage of registered voters sign off on ballots. The arbitrary percentage will, of course, be exactly what turnout levels were in the last election Democrats liked.
This is all comfort food for the dejected Democrat base, an effort to whip them out of their funk so they’ll tell pollsters they demand bipartisan capitulation from the victorious Republicans because the midterm election was a farce. The pollsters will pass the results along to Democrats with bylines in the Beltway media, who will blast Republicans in the face with stories about how they absolutely must share power with Democrats, discard all those nasty little rules Harry Reid put in place, and work with Obama to do everything they campaigned on putting a stop to. Sunday shows will turn into prosecutions where Republican winners are shoved into the dock and charged with the unforgivable crime of “overreach” by the same people who tried and convicted them of “gridlock” just a few months ago.
We had the usual interlude where Obama lectured the American people on how they were fools to resist thanking him for the wonderful job he’s been doing. Don’t get hung up on his campaign promises, your memories of what real prosperity looks like, or the world you can see outside your window:
This country has made real progress since the crisis six years ago. The fact is, more Americans are working. Unemployment has come down. More Americans have health insurance. Manufacturing has grown. Our deficits have shrunk. Our dependence on foreign oil is down, as are gas prices. Our graduation rates are up. Our businesses aren???t just creating jobs at the fastest pace since the 1990s. Our economy is outpacing most of the world.
But we just gotta keep at it until every American feels the gains of the growing economy where it matters most, and that???s in their own lives.
Obviously, much of that will take action from Congress. And I???m eager to work with the new Congress to make the next two years as productive as possible. I???m committed to making sure that I measure ideas not by whether they are from Democrats or Republicans, but whether they work for the American people.
If that all sounds familiar, it’s because it comes from the same scratched vinyl disk as the rest of his rhetoric. He’s said something similar about loving good ideas on a bipartisan basis many times before – and never, not for one instant, not in one single area, has he actually conducted himself that way. You’re not supposed to remember that, of course. You are, as always, supposed to think Barack Obama just arrived in Washington yesterday, and can’t believe the mess he found. You’re not supposed to remember the arrogant jerk who said “I won” when Republicans asked for input into his stimulus plan, which turned into an unholy disaster that primarily benefited rich Democrats with good political connections. You’re not supposed to remember the petulant little boy storming out of budget negotiations, the Third World strongman who rewrites legislation in defiance of the Constitution, the arrogant fool who huffed that the people who held office before his arrival shouldn’t “do a lot of talking” after his arrival, the shadowy operator who dispatches a swarm of gremlins to thwart every congressional inquiry… heck, you’re not supposed to know that Obama just called Republicans “un-American” for insisting on ballot security three days ago. No, you’re supposed to buy this ridiculous act that he’s a non-partisan seeker of truth who just wants to collect the best ideas from everyone and make Washington work better. And that’s why he can’t launch a web site, even if you give him a billion dollars to spend on it.
You’d have to go a long way back into the history books to find an election that was a louder, clearer repudiation of a President and his ideology. But Obama explicitly said he doesn’t feel “repudiated” at all, even though last month he was trumpeting that the election absolutely would be a referendum on his policies, you bet your bippy, every last ballot would a “like” or “dislike” on the great Facebook page of democracy. The knees of Democrat candidates turned to water every time he shot his mouth off, and now he’s throwing the survivors under the bus to stroke his ego and set his minions up with Sunday-show talking points. The electorate shouted “NO!” but to Obama, no means yes. He’s like a cad who needs to be shoved out of his own car on date night before he gets the message.
The closest Obama came to signaling that the midterm elections got his attention was when he announced plans to “begin engaging Congress over a new authorization to use military force against ISIL,” because “the world needs to know we are united behind this effort and the men and women of our military deserve our clear and unified support.” If that was his motivation, he wouldn’t have waited until after a midterm election “ass-whupping” (to borrow a phrase from the currently Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia) to get it. He could, and should, have secured such authorization from the beginning, as he was repeatedly told by the adults in Washington. The real reason Obama wants an authorization now is that he’s actually managing to lose the war to the head-chopping caliphate – his entire strategy lies in disastrous ruins on every front. He launched Operation Goose My Poll Numbers because his political handlers told him the American people expected him to do something about the Islamic State, but Obama’s incompetent and half-hearted effort is a bust, so now he’s desperate to get some Republican fingerprints on it.
If you find it infuriating that Barack Obama seeks to justify continuing abuses of power on the basis that he, and he alone, knows what lurks in the hearts of citizens who don’t vote, you’ll love his unflagging determination to shower illegal immigrants with amnesty. You miserable peasants thought you could change the course of King Barack’s reign with your puny election and its unimpressive turnout? Well, His Majesty will now use his royal powers to change you. He’s going to import a new electorate that agrees with him even more than the existing citizens who don’t bother to vote. (If Obama had any stones, he’d say there’s no reason not to hand out free citizenship papers to illegal aliens, because a lot of them are already voting Democrat anyway.)
The media was so underwhelmed by Obama’s prepared remarks that they actually peppered him with tough questions for a change, and one of them was actually about Obama’s amnesty orders. It’s a question he never could have answered before the election, of course – you poor fools weren’t supposed to know what Democrats are going to do to you, not while you still had a chance to vote against it – but now, after a lot of hemming and hawing about single moms and college students, the President was willing to push back against rumors that his Party’s drubbing in the midterms would keep him from writing those illegal amnesty executive orders. That might scare the crap out of the Party, which unlike Obama has to face voters again in two short years, but Obama thinks permanently restructuring the American electorate is worth it.
The loudest of the many loud denials America howled at Obama on Tuesday night concerned amnesty, but he doesn’t care – you’re going to get it anyway. Of course, Obama invited the Republicans to commit suicide by doing it for him, speaking in glowing terms of the old “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill… never mind that virtually every supporter of that bill who was up for re-election in 2014 got voted out of office. But if Republicans don’t agree to kill themselves in their moment of triumph by passing an immigration bill that would melt their huge voting base away… well, he’s still got that pen and phone. You know, the ones he won’t use for little things like rescuing captive American soldiers with PTSD from Mexican jails.
So, we got a bipartisan bill out of the Senate. I asked John Boehner at that point, can we pass this through the House? There???s a majority of votes in the House to get this passed. And Speaker Boehner, I think was sincere about wanting to pass it, but had difficulty over the last year getting it done. So, when he finally told me he wasn???t going to call it up this year, what I indicated to him is I feel obliged to do everything I can lawfully with my executive authority to make sure that we don???t keep on making the system worse, but that whatever executive actions that I take will be replaced and supplanted by action by Congress. You send me a bill that I can sign, and those executive actions go away.
That???s a commitment I made not just to the American people and to businesses and evangelical community, law enforcement folks, and everybody who???s looked at this issue and thinks that we need immigration reform, that???s a commitment that I also made to John Boehner, that I would act in the absence of action by Congress.
So, before the end of the year, we???re going to take whatever lawful actions that I can take, that I believe will improve the functioning of our immigration system, that will allow us to surge additional resources to the border, where I think the vast majority of Americans have the deepest concern.
I still sense a good deal of wiggle room in that answer, so while I suspect most Americans will interpret these remarks as Obama flipping them the bird, I see a few trial balloons rising from his rhetoric, perhaps intended more for Democrat leader than voters. Obama might be calculating that two years is a long time for the electorate to forget about the executive orders he writes this month, but amnesty is so unpopular, and so huge, that Democrat leaders would be correct to think it could still turn 2016 into a bloodbath for them… and if Republicans play it smart in Congress, they can thwart most of what Obama tries to do anyway. Amnesty could be a push that costs Democrats dearly and leaves them with very little to show for it.
The nervous survivors of the 2014 Democrat massacre won’t be thrilled to hear Obama saying he plans to triple down on everything that pushed his approval ratings into the cellar, but it’s consistent with Obama’s ego and governing style. I wonder if we’ll hear a lot of tough talk to chin up the Democrat base this week, followed by a good deal of golfing, vacations, and speeches to adoring college students, rather than hand-to-hand political combat with the Republican congress. The Republicans are, sadly, going to give Obama a good deal of what he wants without a fight – they’re already moving quickly to disarm themselves of their budgetary weapons. Posturing is cheap, and Presidential bluster can wring a lot of concessions from an opposition party that lives in terror of the political media. Those concessions might prompt hostile “journalists” to lean back in their seats with folded arms and give the GOP leadership a little credit for “bipartisanship”… but they’ll outrage the voters who handed the Republicans a landslide in 2014, making it unlikely they’ll turn out for a repeat performance in the next election. The Democrats can improve their position considerably by talking tough, acting reserved, and allowing the normal inertia of Washington to slide the Senate back into their hands in 2016.
The lingering question is whether the new Republican leadership understands this, and has plans to make the electorate believe that giving them historic victories on both houses of Congress was a good idea. No one should have to tell Mitch McConnell or John Boehner that expectations are high. A few prominent Senators are nursing presidential ambitions for 2016, and will be eager to prove their mettle to primary voters. The Republicans can do a lot to weaken Democrats with a little political judo: turn Obama’s pen against him by making him veto bills he simply cannot accept for ideological reasons, but the American people support. Club the Democrats with their own Senate rules until the name “Harry Reid” is spat as a curse in the Democrat cloakroom.
And by all means, gentlemen, keep video of Obama’s press conference of November 5, 2014, in the vault, for use throughout the coming years and into the presidential election cycle. The President cut a beautiful campaign ad for his Republican successor.