If you want to gain a better appreciation for the fantasy world that President Obama is trying to create in order to win re-election, you couldn’t do much better than to read this New York Times story. The thrust of the article is that the president is planning to step up his offensive against an unpopular Congress, concluding that he cannot pass any major legislation in 2012 because of Republican hostility to his agenda. He intends to “hammer the theme of economic justice for ordinary Americans rather than continue his legislative battles with Congress,” said Joshua R. Earnest, the president’s deputy press secretary, previewing the White House’s strategy.
But here’s where things get interesting. “In terms of the president’s relationship with Congress in 2012,” Earnest said at a briefing, “the president is no longer tied to Washington, D.C.”
True enough. Obama isn’t tied to Washington, D.C.; it’s more accurate to say he embodies it. He is, after all, the nation’s chief executive. He lives in the White House. His desk is located in the West Wing. And his home and work area code is 202. Obama is primus inter pares of the political class.
Moreover, Obama, during the first two years of his presidency, was enormously successful in getting his agenda enacted into law. He got almost everything he wanted, which some of us believe is precisely the problem. And to the extent that we’re facing a “do-nothing” Congress today, the responsibility lies with the Democratically-controlled Senate, not the GOP House. These days the Senate (which has not passed a budget in more than 900 days) is the place legislation goes to die.
But to really enter the Twilight Zone, consider these two priceless sentences from the Times story: “Winning a full-year extension of the payroll tax, Mr. Earnest said, will still be a top priority. He noted that House Republicans were now also arguing that it should be extended for a year, after some initially opposed extending it at all.”
Come again? On December 13, the GOP House passed a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut – and was promptly criticized by – you guessed it — the president. Obama favored a much shorter, two-month extension. House Republicans, under intense political pressure, eventually agreed to the two-month extension. Now the White House is declaring a full-year extension is a “top priority.” Yet as recently as three weeks ago the opposition to the president’s “top priority” came not from House Republicans but from Obama himself.
We are now reaching the point in which the president is running a truly post-modern campaign, in which there is no objective truth but simply narrative. Obama’s campaign isn’t simply distorting the facts; it is inverting them. This kind of thing isn’t unusual to find in the academy. But to see a president and his campaign so thoroughly deconstruct truth in order to maintain power is quite rare. The sheer audacity of Obama’s cynicism is a wonder of the modern world.