This is supposed to be liberalism's year. We hear it from all sources on all points of the political spectrum. A miserable and disillusioned electorate, an energized base, an opposition both confused and demoralized - the 2008 election, we're assured, is the left's to lose.... This contention has become so widespread that it's achieved the status of a received truth, with the danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. But there's one problem with it: if the American left is in such great shape, why are all their programs collapsing? ...
Iraq has set the tone. The American left intended to ride the Iraq "disaster" to victory on all fronts, giving them a lock on political power unseen since the beginning of the Reagan era. That dream ended with the success of General David Petraeus's surge strategy, which routed Al Queda in Iraq with humiliating swiftness and thoroughness. Mention of Iraq then became scarce in the media and among left-of-center politicians.
There was a flurry of excitement a few weeks ago with "failure" of the Iraqi government's effort against the Shi'ite militias in Basra and Sadr City. But it lasted only days until it became apparent that something else was going on: that government forces were in fact engaged in a "cut and reduce" strategy, in which limited objectives are taken one after the other, rather than the swift, once-and-for-all sweep characteristic of Western forces. This is a common technique in Eastern warfare (Byzantium was conquered in exactly this fashion), and one that appears to work: Moqtada al-Sadr, the chief irritant, has steadily given ground, and the recent "truce", utilizing the good offices of Iranian middlemen, was effectively dictated by the Maliki government. Iraq is one step closer to pacification, and once again unsuitable for public discussion among decent people. (The American media has consistently misread Iraqi intentions and capabilities throughout this war, discussing the government and people as if they were average Americans and events were taking place in the area around Dubuque.)
But it didn't end with Iraq. In fact, the past year has seen a general collapse of liberal programs unmatched since the 60s and one that may well be unprecedented in such a short span of time. Global Warming was one of the more successful efforts at Green propaganda over the past decade, one that has paid a number of dividends (including financial). The science underlying warming was simplistic and badly worked out, and could not be expected to prevail for any extended period (e.g., the claim that CO2 was a major driver of global temperature, when in fact such elements as solar radiation, earth's orbital variations, and water vapor are all more important).
The facts caught up with global warming last year. It became common knowledge that the earth's temperature had remained constant since 1998, a problem compounded by a sudden drop in global temperature of nearly a degree and a half Fahrenheit. Neither development was predicted by any climate researcher's model, nor could they be made to fit any accepted warming theory. The only alternative was the desperate adaption of an argument derived from a recent scientific paper released by the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, contending that the Atlantic MultiDecadal Oscillation is holding temperatures down and will continue to do so until at least 2015. (Just in time to save the polar bears, too.) Though warming advocates will not admit it, this represents a surrender flag -- what kind of overwhelming, universal climatic determinant is overthrown by a single oceanic variation? A more convincing explanation lies in the "quiet sun" thesis -- the contention that we're moving into a lengthy period of reduced solar activity. A few more cold winters will tell the tale.
Ethanol -- in its own way an offshoot of the warming panic, ethanol represents the latest "solution" to an environmental menace. None of these have ever been made to work (past environmental problems have almost universally been solved through conventional means), and ethanol is no exception. In short form: mandates for ethanol in gasoline to fight "global warming" and ease U.S. oil imports. The percentage of corn so used grew to one-third of last year's harvest. Coming during a shift in global agricultural markets and amid several unrelated agricultural difficulties, the ethanol mandates triggered a worldwide rise in grain prices that nearly doubled the cost of food in the U.S. and, far worse, created near-famine conditions in a number of marginal nations.
The "Recession" -- like global warming, the Great Recession of 2008 is a catastrophe that has not lived up to its billing. The economy is often a winner for American liberals (somewhat mysteriously, considering their actual history of economic ineptitude). Talk of recession began last summer, in the midst of a 4.9% economic growth rate, and continued through the new year. Signs of economic distress due to loose credit policies were taken as clear evidence of the "recession's" arrival. George Soros and both Democratic candidates -- Madame Hillary in particular -- hailed it as something along the lines of the Second Coming. They were echoed by almost the entire legacy media (Particularly the AP's Jeannine Aversa, who has been awarded legendary status by NewsBusters and the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web as the Cassandra of the third millennium. There wasn't a single dip that Aversa didn't see as a "chasm", a bad day in the market that wasn't a "nightmare", a slowdown that didn't become a "collapse". Somebody should give her a reality show.)
A classic recession was unlikely for a number of reasons: recessions are rarities during wartime. It would also be unusual for one to occur little more than five years after the last. Nor do recessions usually spring from weaknesses in a single sector. And as the year has progressed, so the specter of a full-blown recession has receded. The growth rate remains an anemic but still positive 0.6. The unemployment rate remains below average historical levels at a little over 5% The Dow Jones industrials has consistently remained in the 12,000 range, inching its way back up to 13,000.
We could go one to other, less critical ploys: the claim for mounting American unpopularity on the international scene, which doesn't look quite so compelling with the elections of Sarkozy, Merkel, and Berlusconi. Or the very public and utterly unwarranted humiliation of Colombia and its government, which, with the exposure of Democratic ally Hugo Chavez as aggressor and terror sponsor, could very easily be turned into an issue.
This is what the GOP is running against: people who want to lose a war, who are keeping alive an environmentalist scam, who (as a byproduct of that scam) have created conditions of serious hunger across the world, and who would not mind seeing a recession in the U.S., no matter how many people it hurts. How do you lose against a hand like this? You lose by throwing your cards down and collapsing under the table whining about being forced to play at all. That's what the GOP is doing -- it can't be described in any other way.....
Note for Australian readers: "GOP" stands for Grand Old Party -- i.e. The Republicans. That took me a while to figure out many years ago so maybe some readers here may be similarly puzzled.
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your roundup of Obama news and commentary at OBAMA WATCH