In his very self-important piece that Mark Lilla penned for the New York Review of Books, that very smart man has a real problem of putting things into context. He writes that Obama
. . . has been elected president by a healthy majority and is grappling with a wounded economy and two foreign wars he inherited—and what are we talking about? A makeshift Tea Party movement whose activists rage against “government” and “the media,” while the hotheads of talk radio and cable news declare that the conservative counterrevolution has begun.
Yet, he is absolutely clueless how Obama built that majority. If he had paid the slightest bit of attention to the Democrat’s campaign rhetoric, he might better understand the roots of Tea Party activism. It’s as if Lilla believes that because Obama represents the more liberal party and because he won a majority, therefore people must accept the big-government initiatives he proposes.
Alas, that Mr. Lilla seems blissfully (deliberately?) ignorant of the rhetoric the Democratic nominee used to win over voters in the middle. Recall, as I pointed out in a recent post, how Obama promised, in the campaign to hold the line on spending:
“In his half-hour infomercial” the Wednesday before the 2008 election, the Washington Post reported, candidate Barack Obama “repeated earlier assurances that he had ‘offered spending cuts’ to pay for every cent of the post-election bonanza that he plans to shower on his fellow Americans.” (Emphasis added.) Indeed, in the third debate that fall, pointing out ”that we’ve been living beyond our means and we’re going to have to make some adjustments” he told what he’d been doing ”throughout this campaign”: he had proposed “a net spending cut.”
Not just that, Obama was going to go line by line through the federal budget to root out waste. Guess Lilla takes Obama’s campaign rhetoric as seriously as does the candidate himself.
So filled is Lilla with contempt for conservatives that he blinds himself to the circumstances of Obama’s (electoral) success and the sincerity of our concerns, concerns which parallel Obama’s campaign rhetoric. And, as per my prior post on his essay, he’s all but blind to the economic reality (worldwide debt problem) which has, in large measure, spurred our activism.