As Lawrence Kasdan and Barbara Benedek wrote in The Big Chill:
Michael: I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They’re more important than sex.
Sam Weber: Ah, come on. Nothing’s more important than sex.
Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?
Pres. Obama has had some bad weeks recently and the leftie rationalizations are out in force. Peter Wehner, surveying recent books on the Obama administration, summarizes these rationalizations neatly:
Too ambitious yet too fiscally conservative; too reasonable and nice—these are the essential outlines that emerge from three liberal portraits of Obama as president. How could these outlines be so different from the public perception of the man? Here we come to Obama’s fourth major problem: his failure to communicate.
I will give the left “too ambitious.” But too fiscally conservative? Not so much. Too resonable and nice? As Wehner notes:
Obama has routinely used rhetoric that is, by presidential standards, hyper-partisan and splenetic. He has accused Republicans of being members of the Flat Earth Society, of being “social Darwinists,” and of putting “party ahead of country.” He has portrayed them as cruelly indifferent to the suffering of autistic and Down syndrome children and the elderly. And as the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel has pointed out, the administration has gone so far as to engage in implicit intimidation and threats against private citizens in order to frighten them away from giving money to Mitt Romney. To believe that Obama is at heart an irenic, unifying political figure requires an almost clinical level of self-delusion.
Indeed, Obama holds the record for the most polarizing first, second and third years in office since Gallup started measuring polarization. A majority of Americans (and independents) say Barack Obama’s political views are “too liberal,” a greater percentage than believe Mitt Romney (33%) — or even Rick Santorum (38%) — is “too conservative.”
As for the failure to communicate, Wehner correctly notes Cool Hand Obama has tried orating as governing, to little effect. By the way, little effect is exactly what studies would suggest as the outcome.
Obama Rationalization Bingo would be a funny joke, if the stakes for our country were not so high. Instead, as John Podhoretz notes, the epistemic closure of the left has driven the politics of the Obama era:
You might just as easily ask why it was that Obama and the Democrats simply refused to heed the meaning of the solid GOP bloc against the massive and wasteful stimulus in 2009 — and in forcing through that ineffectual monstrosity, effectively created the citizens’ movement called the Tea Party.
Or why they refused to heed the message sent at the start of 2010 by the surprise victory of Scott Brown in the special election in Massachusetts and instead went on to muscle ObamaCare into law — giving the Tea Party renewed passion and setting up the historic 63-seat “shellacking” in the 2010 midterm election.
Or why they came to believe that the ragtag band of anarchists and shiftless hippy-wannabes that made up the “Occupy” movement were going to change the world.
Why? Because they don’t only sell the snake oil, they drink it themselves. They buy their own propaganda; they believe the hype.
As Mickey Kaus notes, we should not expect the rationalization to stop if Obama loses his reelection bid:
As everyone knows, much of the engaged left has effectively hived itself off in MSNBC world, where the typical show features a liberal host, and a guest who agrees with the host, and another guest who agrees with the first guest. Even in the printosphere, when Obama screws up Jonathan Chait or Michael Tomasky are there to explain why the screw up isn’t really such a screw up and actually hurts Republicans in the long run.
In other words, we already know why Obama will have lost. He’ll have lost because he wasn’t populist enough, he demoralized his base, he didn’t pursue single-payer, he foolishly tried to win over swing voters instead of registering new voters, he was too nice to the Republicans. Rachel Maddow and both her guests will nod sagely.
If those guests aren’t Chait and Tomasky, they will be Conor Friedersdorf, Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein (who, when confronted with the inceased popularity of the GOP, invokes the Nazis). Or maybe Ezra Klein doing his rap on Obama as a moderate Republican. Or maybe Paul Krugman deriding Obama’s Republican economy. They are all pretty much interchangeable now. And they will all complain about the extremism of the right-wing echo chamber.