The wheels are already coming off Obama's Trojan horse revolution. Will he, like Jimmy Carter, be seen as a one-term disaster?by Bartle Bull / April 26, 2009 / Leave a comment
Barack Obama was always going to disappoint. When you promise almost everything to almost everybody—I’ll stop the fighting in Iraq but I’ll also keep going after al Qaeda there; I’ll make the economy grow more but I’ll spread the wealth around, and so on—you will inevitably let many people down. Human beings, even those who read fluently from teleprompters, simply cannot walk on water.
But few expected the wheels to come off the new administration so quickly. Just weeks into its existence, the Obama White House is in trouble. The US stock market has lost a quarter of its value since Obama’s election. While a Rasmussen poll in early March had his approval rating at 56 per cent, his net approval (the number of people who strongly approve of what he’s doing subtracted from the number who strongly disapprove) had contracted from 28 per cent the day after his inauguration to around 6 per cent for March—worse than Bush at the same time in his first term. The administration is in a fully fledged staffing crisis: having lost a record ten high-profile picks, it has scores of senior executive jobs unfilled—including every single treasury position below the department’s top job. The head of Britain’s civil service, Gus O’Donnell, has complained about the trouble he’s had finding key administration personnel ahead of the G20 conference in April. “There is nobody there,” he said. “You cannot believe how difficult it is.” Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner looks terrified before executives and television cameras alike. Five months after the election he has yet to deliver a plan for the banking system, much less restructure a single financial asset.
Even the sympathetic press is starting to speak of an “incompetence” crisis. Abroad, North Korea, Russia, China and Iran have all turned up the heat, as have Hamas and Chavez. At home, Obama’s Trojan horse agenda—using the economic crisis as an excuse to advance radical social change in areas unrelated to returning growth to the economy—threatens to pull his government into ideological quicksand when all the public really want are jobs. Centrist Democrats are deeply concerned about what Obama’s poor start means for the long-term, moderate Democratic majority whose possibility was glimpsed in the Clinton years.
A president with historic ambitions was never going to be content with tackling a mere recession. Thus in…