Losing Their Heads

Historian Walter Russell Mead, a Democrat who gets it:

…Who can forget the rapturous cries of joy when [Obama] was elected in 2008? Who can forget all those predictions of a ‘transformational presidency,’ hailing the one term Senator from Illinois as a new Lincoln, a new FDR, and (my personal favorite) the ‘Democratic Reagan’?

Some of this was a natural pride that virtually the entire country felt at the election of our first African-American President…

But some of the enthusiasm was less solidly based. Who can forget the lavish praise of the new President’s mesmerizing rhetoric? Serious political writers seriously compared the President’s campaign addresses to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural. The Great Persuader was going to carry the country into a new age of progressive politics, creating a new consensus behind the power of a reinvigorated state. The earth would start to cool, the waters to recede, the rainbows would appear in the sky.

All pundits, including yours truly, get it wrong sometimes, and normally there would be little point in dwelling on past blunders. But it this case, it is worth exhuming these vaporous and embarrassing stupidities for a few moments. Many of our nation’s intellectual leaders wonder why the rest of the country isn’t more respectful of their claims to be guided by and speak for the cool voice of celestial reason. That so many of them gushed over Barack Obama with all of the profundity of reflection and intellectual distance of tweeners at a Justin Bieber concert should help them understand why their claims of superior wisdom are sometimes met with caustic cynicism.

A significant chunk of the American liberal intelligentsia completely lost its head over Barack Obama. They mistook hopes and fantasies for reality. Worse, the disease spread to at least some members of the White House team. An administration elected with a mandate to stabilize the country misread the political situation and came to the belief that the country wanted the kinds of serious and deep changes that liberals have wanted for decades. It was 1933, and President Obama was the new FDR.

They did not perceive just how wrong they were; nor did they understand how the error undermined the logical case they wanted to make in favor of a bigger role for government guided by smart, well-credentialed liberal wonks. Give us more power because we understand the world better than you do, was the message. We are so smart, so well-credentialed, so careful to read all the best papers by all the certified experts that the recommendations we make and the regulations we write, however outlandish and burdensome they look to all you non-experts out there, are certain to work. Trust us because we are always right, and only fools and charlatans would be so stupid as to disagree.

They were fundamentally misreading the mood of the country, the political situation, and the ability of the new president even as they claimed that their superior and universal wisdom gave them the right and the duty to plan the future of vast swatches of the American economy. They were swept away by giddy euphoria even as they proclaimed the virtue of cool reason. Voters could see this; increasingly, they tuned the administration out…

And that beacon of enlightenment, the United Nations, gives a seat on the U.N.’s top women’s rights body to the “most misogynistic dicatorship in the world.”:

Saudi Arabia, probably the most misogynistic dictatorship in the world, has won a seat on UN Women, the UN’s top women’s rights body, the BBC reports today. Iran, however, failed to gain a seat. Nonetheless, the fact that a Saudi regime which does not even allow women to drive cars will now sit in judgement on global gender equality issues is a sickening development even by the depraved standards we have come to expect from UN rights bodies… [From Robin Shepherd Online].

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