Obama spent a great deal of 2009 trying to convince us of things that just weren’t true. He told us we had to have a trillion dollar (including interest) stimulus plan to keep unemployment at 8 percent. We paid (well, borrowed) the money, and unemployment went above 10 percent. He told us the stimulus plan saved many jobs. We never could figure out how many or where they were. He told us there was a health-care crisis. But more people than ever like their health care just the way it is. He told us he wanted a health-care bill that would cut costs, reform Medicare, improve access to care, not tax anyone but the rich, and eliminate the disparity between the haves and have-nots. We got a bill that does none of that. He promised an end to partisan recriminations and small-minded politics. He practiced both, leaving the New York Times complaining about the resurgence of partisan bitterness. He vowed to end the politicization of the Justice Department, but Eric Holder has run roughshod over career attorneys, given free rein to leftist ideologues, and effectuated a war on the CIA. Obama told us he would return science to its rightful place but refuses to acknowledge evidence that the science underpinning climate-change fanaticism has been exaggerated and bastardized.
In the realm of national security, Obama told us George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had made us less safe, and he set about to reverse the policies that kept us free from domestic attacks for seven and a half years. But Americans now feel less safe and have experienced three domestic terror attacks. Obama told us he was going to engage Iran to cure the misunderstandings and ill will between our countries. He sent video messages to the mullahs and spent a year overlooking the regime’s thuggish behavior and downplaying their violations of international agreements. But the Iranian regime has stolen an election, murdered its own people, and is building gobs of new enrichment sites. Obama said he could improve America’s image in the “Muslim World,” but as David Ignatius put it, “The problems the United States faced in 2009 in the Muslim world were deep and intractable, and less amenable to solutions than the Obama administration might have hoped.” Obama told us if he could halt Israel’s settlements, the Palestinians would be forthcoming, and a peace deal could be reached. The parties are farther apart than ever.
I could go on, but you get the point. There is ample evidence that Obama’s rhetoric is divorced from reality and that his policies, both foreign and domestic, have failed even by his own standards. Will he learn and adjust — or will he persist in his folly, a prisoner of a worldview and domestic agenda ill-suited to the challenges that confront us? If he adjusts, his presidency may still be a successful one. If not, he will join the list of failed presidents who never lived up to the promise of their campaigns and who left the country less prosperous and less safe. In 2010, we’ll get an idea which it will be.