When the history of this administration is written, maybe someone will note the dissonance between the president’s hip persona and his retro ideology. Here was a man who promised a “transformative” presidency. Yet when transformation came, it amounted to a two-pronged attempt to impose, from one side, a version of European social democracy by way of ObamaCare, and from the other side a version of Chinese state-directed “capitalism” by way of the stimulus.
As a political matter it may have been Mr. Obama’s good luck that the bankruptcy of both models became obvious only after he had gotten his way legislatively on both. Yet the president’s sagging fortunes have everything to do with his buying into an ideological enthusiasm too late. In a different age, Mr. Obama would have been the guy who went out and bought an Edsel. In this age, Mr. Obama is the guy demanding that you buy an Edsel, too. That car is today called the Volt.
Mr. Obama might still squeak by. He has, in addition to incumbency and a vestige of likability, the benefit of a challenger who only found his stride very late in the campaign. But a second term will mean four years of spent ideas packaged in shopworn rhetoric, to be shoved down the national throat by a president with nothing politically to lose.