April 30, 2014
With multiple crises spiraling out of control around the world, stories about the Obama presidency are taking on the air of postmortems. What went wrong, who's to blame, what next -- even The New York Times is starting to recognize that Dear Leader is a global flop.
"Obama Suffers Setbacks in Japan and the Mideast," the paper declared on Friday's front page. The double whammy of failure pushed the growing Russian menace in Europe to inside pages, but even they were chock-full of reports about utopia gone wrong.
One story detailed how the White House was facing the "consequences of underestimating" North Korea's Kim Jong-un. Others recounted the continuing Syrian slaughter and the murder of three Americans in Afghanistan.
The accounts and others like them amount to an autopsy of a failed presidency, but the process won't be complete unless it is completely honest. To meet that test, the Times, other liberal news organizations and leading Democrats, in and out of office, must come to grips with their own failures, as well.
Obama had a free hand to make a mess because they gave it to him. They cheered him on, supporting him with unprecedented gobs of money and near-unanimous votes. They said "aye" to any cockamamie concept he came up with, echoed his demonization of critics and helped steamroll unpopular and unworkable ideas into reality.
Some of his backers knew better, and said so privately, but publicly they were all in. Whether it was Obamacare, his anti-Israel position or the soft-shoe shuffle around the Iranian nuke crisis, they lacked the courage to object.
They said nothing as Obama went on foreign apology tours and stood silent as our allies warned of disastrous consequences. Even now, despite protests from a succession of Pentagon leaders, former Democrat defense hawks are helping Obama hollow out our military as Russia and China expand theirs and al Qaeda extends its footprint.
A king is no king without a court, and Obama has not lacked for lackeys. The system of checks and balances is written into the Constitution, but it is the everyday behavior of Americans of good will that makes the system work.
That system broke down under Obama, and the blame starts with the media. By giving the president the benefit of the doubt at every turn, by making excuses to explain away fiascos, by ignoring corruption, by buying the White House line that his critics were motivated by pure politics or racism, the Times and other organizations played the role of bartender to a man on a bender.
Even worse, they joined the party, forgetting the lessons of history as well as their own responsibilities to put a check on power. A purpose of a free press is to hold government accountable, but there is no fallback when the watchdog voluntarily chooses to be a lapdog.
The sycophancy was not lost on other politicians and private citizens. Taking their cue from the media, they, too, bit their tongues and went along as the president led the nation astray and misread foreign threats.
From the start, support for Obama often had a cult-like atmosphere. He sensed it, began to believe it and became comfortable demanding total agreement as the price for the favor of his leadership.
That he is now the imperial president he used to bemoan is no longer in dispute. The milking of perks, from golf trips to Florida to European vacations for the first lady, is shockingly vulgar, but not a peep of protest comes from his supporters.
The IRS becomes a political enforcer, but that, too, is accepted because nobody will risk their access by telling Obama no. You are either with him or you are his enemy.
The evidence is everywhere that his ideas are flawed, that his view of economics, diplomacy, the military, history, science and religion are warped by his own narcissism. He doesn't even talk a good game anymore.
Yet it remains a fool's errand to hope he will correct his ways. He is not capable; he looks in the mirror and sees only a savior.
It is equally clear that those who shielded him from facts and their own best judgment did him no favors. Out of fear and favor, they abdicated their duty to the nation, and they must share the burden of history's verdict. After all, America's decline happened on their watch, too.
Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Michael Goodwin has been a fixture on the New York media scene for the last 30 years. He started writing a column for the New York Daily News in May 2004 and first appeared as a guest on Lou Dobbs Tonight in 2006. Goodwin previously served as Executive Editor of the Daily News and prior to that, as its Editorial Page Editor.
This article was originally featured in The New York Post. Refer to original article for related links and important documentation.
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