At a dinner in Washington earlier this week—one packed with well-meaning folks who really, really wanted this year’s election to have gone the other way—I heard a speaker cite Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art by way of consoling the audience. “The art of losing isn’t hard to master,” the poem famously begins. The speaker hastened to remind the room that, later in the poem, we are informed numerous times that losing “is no disaster.” With that in mind, those who didn’t like the election’s result should buck up and dive back into the fight, and so forth.
It didn’t seem like the time or place for me to point out that the poem’s declarations that losing isn’t a disaster are clearly ironic. It also didn’t seem the time to note that among the most important reasons why so many people supported Trump was that they were conscious of a series of painful disasters, the existence of which the Obama administration, abetted by a friendly press, refused to acknowledge.
The nature of our politics today—and perhaps immemorially—is that every ambitious mayor or governor of a state feels the need to create a narrative of success: build a stadium or bridge that he can slap his name on, massage the crime statistics to show civic healing, and call it good. If the reality matches the narrative, so much the better—but you won’t find too many politicians admitting that things haven’t improved, or that they have actually grown worse. Obama and his aides certainly weren’t big on admitting shortcomings, and after the electoral wipeout they have just suffered, it looks like their most lasting impact will be to have discredited the word “narrative”among a large portion of Americans. That’s something, I guess.
For years, Americans were told that after the financial panic in 2008, the president’s policies had put us on a steady course to a strong economy. But in much of the country, people looked around them and thought, That just doesn’t seem right. Especially in those parts of the country hit the hardest by the transition from the Industrial Era to the Information Age, people asked a number of questions. If the economy is doing so great, why are my adult children not moving out? If the unemployment rate is declining, why are so many prime-age males not working? And doesn’t it matter that the quality of jobs for non-college graduates is so obviously worse than it was a generation ago? Why, instead of working, are so many people dependent on public benefits and falling prey to addiction?
All of these questions had answers—but looking to the Obama White House for clarity about the uncomfortable tradeoffs their policies involved was a fool’s errand. Take, as an example, the crusade against coal, pushed by activists and coastal liberals for whom shutting down these companies was a clear and uncomplicated good deed on behalf of Mother Earth, of which the only real victims would be the greedy energy executives. The miners could retrain, or get “green jobs,” or something.
Well, a lot of the coal companies did shut down, or all but shut down. Many of the owners cut their losses and moved on—capital may be inconvenienced, but it generally does not suffer. The workers just lost their jobs. The economy in places like southeastern Ohio wasn’t exactly ready to absorb them, and as for retraining—well, you give that a try when you’re 45 years old. The availability of welfare and disability payments is a bitter replacement for the dignity of an honest, decently paid job. The only good news in some of these regions for much of the last eight years was the fracking revolution, a phenomenon that generally occurred in spite of the president’s best efforts.
Obama, himself, admits he has a ”messaging problem.”
In other words, the public won’t swallow his lies.
consider some of his own spin:
“I regret very much that what we intended to do — which is to make sure that everybody is moving into better plans because they want them, as opposed to because they’re forced into it — that, you know, we weren’t as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were taking place,” Obama on ACA in 2013.
Did he think just SAYING you want this would negate the situations of being FORCED to make changes?
“I think that one of the challenges we had two years ago was, we had to move so fast, we were in such emergency mode, that it was very difficult for us to spend a lot of time doing victory laps….” Obama on his low ratings for helping the economy, 2010.
That same month Obama JOKED that, despite frittering away a TRILLION dollars, “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready jobs.”
And he thinks a better NARRATIVE was going to help?!
Only if, TASS-like, he controls all media and we cannot even communicate with one another to learn the truth.
Fake News on the Internet.
Why are you still obsessing about the Obama administration?
Maybe you should be paying a little more attention to Trump’s shell game. You’ve placed a very large bet on where the dried pea is going to turn up.
@Greg: “Why are you still obsessing about the Obama administration?” Why are you leftists so obsessed with inventing lies about an administration that is not even an administration yet?
It is about time that people began to wake up to the fact that, as they look around and view the reality they are in the midst of, that reality in no way resembles what Obama and the corrupt media is telling them. One would be hard-pressed to find a single non-failure in the past 8 years, yet the media and Obama unabashedly and without fear of being called on it, simply proclaim down is up and night is day.
@July 4th American: Not surprising, given the levels of hypocrisy the left has shown they can descend to, that the purveyors of false news complain about false news. No one needed a single false news story to know Hillary had proven herself, as Secretary of State, as an incompetent leader that only cared about her own privacy and wealth. I needed no pizza story to influence my vote; a person that is a proven liar, corrupt, criminal and incompetent is disqualified from holding office.
Obama lying so much to the world about america he a a total disgrace to america and he needs to go away
After 8 years of Big Brother and his “right speak”, “wrong speak” propaganda ministry the people are divesting themselves of the shackles of the leftist establishment press whom they no longer trust. For a comparative analogy to the last eight years watch the science fiction film “They Live”.
@Ditto: F the lamestream media
All power and praise to our 24/7 tweeter.
F the lamestream media Lets put our total faith and obeisance in the 24/7 tweets of our glorious leader.
BTW F the CIA and the FBI—DT
Strange sense of humor
Greg, I know this is going to surprise you, but Trump doesn’t begin any ‘game’ until Jan 20. Your guy is still the president and he’s in charge (lol). Trump has already appointed more people to fill jobs than Obama had at the same period 8 years ago. Were you accusing him of a shell game back then?
So if Trump tries to do something, he’s trying to seize power and if he does nothing, he’s playing a ‘shell’ game.