by Rod D. Martin
August 8, 2011
This just became the Suze Orman election.
You know Suze Orman. She’s that nice, perky lady on CNBC. The one who likes leather and writes all those personal finance books on your shelf.
Well, the point is, you do know her. Or if you don’t, you know Dave Ramsey. Or someone else who’s taught you some pretty basic ideas, among which are: don’t max out your credit cards. If you do max out your credit cards, cut them up and pay them off. Don’t count on “new revenues” (like a better job you don’t have, or a tax hike) to bail you out. And above all, if you’re maxed out already, don’t apply for more credit: stop digging your hole.
You know this. Everyone knows this. These are our modern day Proverbs.
And therein lies the problem for Barack Obama.
When the debate was about shaving or adding a billion – or a hundred billion – here or there from programs you’ve never heard of in budget years afar off, America’s eyes glazed over. This has always been true, regardless of who was in power. This has served the left well. For most of a century, Washington could and has pretty routinely come up with some new thing we “had to do” “for the children” and no one really worried that much about how it would be paid for.
They’re worrying now. They understand now. And they’re moving from pretty worried to a little frightened. There’s nothing in sight that might keep that from growing.
Beltway Democrats believe they can do their normal finger-pointing game and, given their dominance of most legacy media, bludgeon their Republican counterparts to death. And if they’re talking about John Boehner, they may be right.
But that’s the old game. It entirely misses the point. Inside-Washington parlor games matter only if the public is sleepily ignoring them. If they’re not, those games are correctly deemed part of the problem.
The downgrade can’t be ignored.
The downgrade is, at a minimum, a huge humiliation. It’s exactly like having a 750 credit score and then getting notified that, oops, now you’re at 640. Oh, and the notification is on the front page of the newspaper, and everyone just saw it, from your ex to your kids to your friends to your boss. It’s a national disgrace that people can understand, feel, and identify with, not least because so many of them are feeling the same disgrace personally in these high-unemployment “Great Recessionary” Obama years. Only now it’s their country.
The downgrade is also a first. Democrats may spout off a lot of bold talk to the contrary, but their pollsters know the truth: the economy is credited to or blamed on Presidents. This President lost our credit rating. No President has ever done that. Not the much-maligned Bush. Not his father. Not Jimmy Carter. Not Gerald Ford or Richard Nixon. Not even FDR at the height of the Depression (which, Obama acolytes notwithstanding, everyone understands was worse than now). Not even Herbert Hoover, that human embodiment of the lowest you can go.
No one has ever lost America’s perfect credit. Until now. Until Barack Obama.
Many Americans are now too young to remember how it felt to live through the Carter years. The loss of your job, and in too many cases your future, or the constant fear that you would be next. The vague but certain knowledge that America had lost a war in Vietnam and might lose one again, one that mattered more. The constant drumbeat of “limits to growth”, of ever-higher gas prices, of having to cancel the family vacation one more year. The humiliation and anger and impotence of the hostage-taking in Iran, while Carter wrung his hands and kowtowed to the “Muslim street”.
For those of us who are old enough, we’ve seen this play before. It nearly destroyed us. And yet, even Jimmy Carter never lost our good credit: our good name.
Obama came in claiming Bush had ruined America’s reputation and he would fix it. Many Americans thought that was bunk, that our reputation was fine, and anyone who didn’t like us wasn’t our friend anyway. Now, under Obama, the savior, we really are genuinely disgraced in front of those same taunting eyes before which he was going to redeem us. Even the ones we looked down, and look down, on ourselves.
That will sink in.
What else will sink in? This: that Obama’s demonization of the House Republicans is not so that he can be more responsible, but so he can be less. No one ever lost our credit rating before because no one ever spent so wildly before. It took 232 years for America to amass $10 trillion in debt. Obama maxed out the national credit card in just 30 months, hitting almost $15 trillion by the time of the downgrade. Almost a third of the entire national debt for all of time belongs to one inexperienced community organizer who hasn’t even finished a single term.
And Obama’s plan to “fix” things? Borrow way more. Spend way more. And tax way more too – trillions of dollars more – to help pay for a tiny part of it, in the longest period of high unemployment since the Depression, and while too-high taxes and regulation are forcing countless jobs overseas already.
Which at least is better than leftist hero Michael Moore’s solution, which is to arrest the CEO of Standard & Poor.
No. That dog won’t hunt. Americans might turn to a comparatively moderate primary challenger, for instance, a certain Secretary of State whose husband presided over strong economic growth and budget surpluses. Or they might turn to a Tea Party candidate who actually tackles the problem whole, and paraphrases James Carville (Hillary might do that too), to wit: “It’s the spending, stupid.”
But regardless, this is a defining moment. Barack Obama and his spin machine haven’t realized it yet. But if this is the Suze Orman election, they just elected Obama’s replacement as surely as Carter elected Reagan.
And so now, the fight really begins.
Editor’s Note: This op-ed from Rod D. Martin was also posted at The Daily Caller.