In the Washington Times, Charles Hurt claims this “has been, without any doubt, the worst week yet for President Obama.” He cites the fatal multi-car pile-up that is the Trayvon Martin controversy, the hot-mic incident with Dmitry Medvedev, Obamacare on the ropes at the Supreme Court, and the congressional defeat of Obama’s budget. It’s true this has been Obama’s worst week ever. But it’s also more than that. There are all sorts of ways to have a bad political week, and most don’t involve secretly colluding with the Kremlin and watching your signature policy initiative deliquesce at the Supreme Court.
For Obama detractors, this week was the mother of all “told-ya-so’s”: the disaster predictions of his presidency made manifest; all the contents of 2008’s dire prophecies conjured into the real world. The brazen courting of international bad actors, the constitutionally unfeasible leftism, and the political illiteracy have been summoned at last in the space of a few days. You no longer need conservative pundits to paint a worrisome picture when you can just go to the videotape.
Worst of all is the clear, bright line connecting the health-care showdown and the Putin pander: Barack Obama’s casual indifference to democratic principle. That the healthcare overhaul was a federally enforced protection racket is no more relevant to him than Vladimir Putin’s aggressive anti-freedom agenda. Expedience means the state compels the people to do what’s in their best interest. No one said change is easy.
The told-ya-so business is high risk. If in June it turns out that the Court didn’t shoot down all or part of Obamacare, the president will get a considerable lift. The larger context of this week from hell will be history and Obama critics will eat a plate of crow as large as the seeming political corpse on which they now feast. But that’s only politics. The essential nature of Obama’s presidency is fundamentally changed no matter what. Recovering support after the catastrophes of this week, which is certainly possible, would mean inaugurating a new kind of Obama advocacy. One no longer based on idealism or hope but rather on the kind of cynicism and opportunism that were brought to light over the last several days.