19 Mar 2010

Obama Takes the Road to Demon Pass

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Peggy Noonan catches out Obama’s evasive manuevers and efforts to pull rank during an unusual interview this week on Fox News and in her own distinctive Celtic Bard manner produces an early draft of the epitaph for the current presidency.

[The interview Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report With Bret Baier was] the most revealing and important broadcast interview of Barack Obama ever. It revealed his primary weakness in speaking of health care, which is a tendency to dodge, obfuscate and mislead. He grows testy when challenged. It revealed what the president doesn’t want revealed, which is that he doesn’t want to reveal much about his plan. This furtiveness is not helpful in a time of high public anxiety. At any rate, the interview was what such interviews rarely are, a public service. That it occurred at a high-stakes time, with so much on the line, only made it more electric. …

[T]he Baier interview was something, and right from the beginning. Mr. Baier’s first question was whether the president supports the so-called Slaughter rule, alternatively known as “deem and pass,” which would avoid a straight up-or-down House vote on the Senate bill. (Tunku Varadarajan in the Daily Beast cleverly notes that it sounds like “demon pass,” which it does. Maybe that’s the juncture we’re at.) Mr. Obama, in his response, made the usual case for ObamaCare. Mr. Baier pressed him. The president said, “The vote that’s taken in the House will be a vote for health-care reform.” We shouldn’t, he added, concern ourselves with “the procedural issues.” …

And so it ends, with a health-care vote expected this weekend. I wonder at what point the administration will realize it wasn’t worth it—worth the discord, worth the diminution in popularity and prestige, worth the deepening of the great divide. What has been lost is so vivid, what has been gained so amorphous, blurry and likely illusory. Memo to future presidents: Never stake your entire survival on the painful passing of a bad bill. Never take the country down the road to Demon Pass.

Read the whole thing.

I must confess that I look forward to the weekend editions of the Wall Street Journal, in which these days Peggy Noonan can be expected to be found, hair disordered, rising threateningly from the mist, to intone, week after week, a new malediction or fatal prophecy aimed directly at Barack Obama.

It was not so very long ago that Peggy Noonan was supporting him. Peggy was one of the commentators on the right most firmly ensconsed in the establishment and, just like David Brooks, she was unable to resist the seductive appeal of Barack Obama’s pretense of dignity and moderation and his gift of gab.

When Obama proceeded to drop the veil of moderation, and revealed himself in practice to be a looting radical leftist determined to ram socialism down America’s throat, Peggy Noonan took the kind of personal offense that the Queen of Elfland might have taken when she discovered that the mortal who had gained her favor really intended to bulldoze her sacred grove and erect a strip mall.

Obama was extremely good at winning over the proudest and most cerebral of the center-right commentariat, and he has proven to be even better at disillusioning them and provoking their wrath.

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