It's a modern marvel how the increasing opposition of the American public to President Barack Obama's plans for us is explained away by administration officials and certain Democratic legislators -- such as California Sen. Dianne Feinstein -- as a sign that the people just don't get it. A panel of pundits chatting with Charlie Rose on his talking-head fest the other evening came to the conclusion that Tea Partiers and their ilk are too stupid to know what's good for them. It wasn't stated that bluntly, of course, because these pundits belong to the oh-so sophisticated "educated class," as New York Times columnist and Obama worshipper David Brooks describes his fellow Ivy League-educated worthies.
In his blog, under the heading "Too Dumb To Thrive," Time scribe Joe Klein expressed his amazement that a recent poll showed three out of four Americans think the $787 billion stimulus package has been largely wasted. He says if it has been wasted, it's been wasted on them. And they're too dense to understand that, for one thing, most of that money hasn't been spent yet, and that "the big, jobs-creating programs, like the rebuilt 'smart electric grid,' major highways and fast trains, will come on line during the next year."
One of the problems the "educated class" seems to be having is that they, with rare exception, are weathering the Great Recession rather well. The under-educated, i.e. less privileged, are not. There is a great difference in their respective perspectives. One out of five American men in prime working age -- mid-20s to late 50s -- are without a job. They know the government has failed them. They understand this didn't begin a year ago when Mr. Obama took office. They know public spending is totally out of control and portends economic disaster not very far down the road. They also understand that the current occupant of the White House and the Democratic Congress have made things worse, rather than better. Those of them in Massachusetts sent quite the message by electing Republican Cosmo centerfold Scott Brown to the Senate seat long occupied by the late Democratic stalwart Ted Kennedy.
Barack Obama seems to believe he has magical powers of persuasion. If true, how come fewer and fewer are persuaded? Is it that, as much of a smoothie as he is with words, he lacks passion? Perhaps, but the idea that his drooping poll figures and the Republican electoral wins in Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey are the result of an epidemic of misunderstanding is ludicrous on its face. We understand what he and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid want, and we're opposed to it. We know the present health care system is heading for a financial crack-up, but we also know that the proposed cure that was cobbled together in an untidy, indecipherable monstrous piece of pork-ridden, bribe-filled legislation would make things worse, not better. We get it. We just don't like it.
Disenchantment with the Obama presidency and the Democratic stranglehold in Congress is widespread and not confined to Republicans, Tea Partiers and Libertarians. Earlier in the week, I talked with David Michael Green, a devout "progressive" who teaches political science at Hofstra University in New York. He has written a powerful polemic, "How to Squander the Presidency in One Year," in which he says, "There's only one political party in the entire world that is so inept, cowardly and bungling that it could manage to simultaneously lick the boots of Wall Street bankers and then get blamed by the voters for being flaming revolutionary socialists.
"Barack Obama has now, in just a year's time, become the single most inept president perhaps in all of American history, and certainly in my lifetime," Mr. Green said, adding that "Never has so much political advantage been [squandered] so rapidly, and what's more in the context of so much national urgency and crisis. It's astonishing, really, to contemplate how much has been lost in a single year."
President Obama acknowledged some missteps in his State of the Union speech Wednesday night. One he didn't mention was that he and his fellow Democrats on the Hill have managed what seemed impossible just a year ago: They have, through their collective tin ear and arrogance, managed to resurrect the moribund and justifiably disgraced Republican Party.
Ron Smith's column appears Fridays in The Baltimore Sun. His e-mail is email@example.com.