Victor David Hanson writes Epitaph for Hope and Change in The National Review


At home, a natural recovery after a deep recession was aborted by massive government borrowing that was wasted on abetting crony capitalists and shoring up collapsing union and pension funds. Before he is through, Obama may well have borrowed more than all previous presidents combined. In the surreal context of the present, slashing defense and raising taxes to reduce trillion-dollar-deficits to half-trillion-dollar deficits — still higher than any other before Obama — are dubbed fiscal progress.

Never has a modern president been so pampered by the press, and never has the press been so disrespected for its obsequiousness. After Obama, what will the press do? Will it investigate some future Republican abuse of executive orders, deplore serial crippling deficits, complain of a government hostile to the media, expose scandals in the IRS or VA, lament the decline of U.S. prestige abroad, tally up “illegal” Predator assassinations, chronicle bombing without congressional approval, talk of a McCarthy-like administration tapping reporters’ communications and computers, whine about an anemic “jobless” recovery, chart how a president deliberately misled the country about health care, amnesty, or dangers in the Middle East? Will it demand that the next presidential candidate release his college transcripts and medical records or details about his associates?

To the extent that Obama enjoys some successes, they largely came despite, not because of, his efforts. Enacting cap-and-trade and canceling the Keystone Pipeline did not come to pass, nor did the attempts to realize Steven Chu’s dream of European-level gas prices or Obama’s own hope for skyrocketing electric rates; banning new fracking and horizontal drilling on federal lands did not stop private entrepreneurs. The completely unforeseen bonanza of new gas and oil production on private lands has lowered energy prices and for a while mitigated the effects of Obama’s economic plan. How ironic that what he tried to stop is countering what he succeeded in implementing.

The promised most transparent presidency in history turned out to be the most hostile to journalists and the most corrupt since Richard Nixon’s. Old standby bureaucracies — the IRS, the GSA, the VA, the CIA, the NSA, and the Secret Service — are mired in scandal or suffering from public mistrust. The suspense is not over whether such scandals will tarnish Obama’s legacy, but only over how long after he leaves office will it take before the full picture of his ends-justifying-the-means way of governance becomes known. There is something like a Bill Cosby aura around this administration — a feeling that when the media and the liberal establishment are no longer invested in the day-to-day operations of the Obama administration, only then we will learn things that we would rather not. When Al Sharpton no longer visits the White House, will he be sent to jail for tax fraud?