A Few “What Have I Done?” Moments

Have you ever seen the movie Bridge On The River Kwai? There is a scene where Alec Guiness (Colonel Nicholson) comes to his senses about having helped the Japanese build a railroad bridge and then asks, “What have I done?”

Such is happening today with people who supported Barack Obama during the campaign. They are now looking at the actions of the man they helped to put in office and are asking, “What have I done?”

In a column for the American Thinker, Cliff Thier looks at a few of these people.

Christopher Buckley wrote this on October 10, 2008:

I’ve read Obama’s books, and they are first-rate. He is that rara avis, the politician who writes his own books. Imagine. He is also a lefty. I am not. I am a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets. On abortion, gay marriage, et al, I’m libertarian. I believe with my sage and epigrammatic friend P.J. O’Rourke that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away.

But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.

Obama has in him-I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric-the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

But, on March 1, 2009, here was his “What have I done?” moment:

Hold on-there’s a typo in that paragraph. “$3.6 trillion budget” can’t be right. The entire national debt is-what-about $11 trillion? He can’t actually be proposing to spend nearly one-third of that in one year, surely. Let me check. Hmm. He did. The Wall Street Journal notes that federal outlays in fiscal 2009 will rise to almost 30 percent of the gross national product. In language that even an innumerate English major such as myself can understand: The US government is now spending annually about one-third of what the entire US economy produces. As George Will would say, “Well.”…

If this is what the American people want, so be it, but they ought to have no illusions about the perils of this approach. Mr. Obama is proposing among everything else $1 trillion in new entitlements, and entitlement programs never go away, or in the oddly poetical bureaucratic jargon, “sunset.” He is proposing $1.4 trillion in new taxes, an appetite for which was largely was whetted by the shameful excesses of American CEO corporate culture. And finally, he has proposed $5 trillion in new debt, one-half the total accumulated national debt in all US history. All in one fell swoop.

Clearly, not the same Barack Obama he wrote about last year.

And how about David Brooks? Here is what he wrote on October 16, 2008:

And it is easy to sketch out a scenario in which he could be a great president. He would be untroubled by self-destructive demons or indiscipline. With that cool manner, he would see reality unfiltered. He could gather – already has gathered – some of the smartest minds in public policy, and, untroubled by intellectual insecurity, he could give them free rein. Though he is young, it is easy to imagine him at the cabinet table, leading a subtle discussion of some long-term problem.

And his “What have I done?” moment from March 2, 2009:

Those of us who consider ourselves moderates – moderate-conservative, in my case – are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was. His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice.

And how about Matin Peretz, the Publisher of The New Republic? Here is what he wrote on January 31, 2008:

Obama’s points, which he has made many times, should reassure anyone who is concerned about what his presidency would mean for the security of Israel. And yet many are not reassured. They are alarmed by e-mails, saying that Obama’s middle name is Hussein (true, and so what?), that he is a Muslim and not a Christian (untrue, and so what if it was?), that he took the oath of office as a Senator on the Koran rather than the Bible (utterly untrue and, once again, so what?). All these charges have been aired and negated often enough that anyone interested in hearing the truth about them has heard it. But another charge, circulating on the Internet, has not yet been sufficiently refuted. This is that he has advisers on the Middle East who despise Israel.

Let’s take one example. There are all kinds of spooky rumors that a man named Robert Malley is one of Obama’s advisers, specifically his Middle East adviser. His name comes up mysteriously and intrusively on the web, like the ads for Viagra. Malley, who has written several deceitful articles in The New York Review of Books, is a rabid hater of Israel. No question about it. But Malley is not and has never been a Middle East adviser to Barack Obama. Obama’s Middle East adviser is Dan Shapiro. Malley did, though, work for Bill Clinton. He was deeply involved in the disastrous diplomacy of 2000. Obama at the time was in the Illinois State Senate. So, yes, this is a piece of experience that Obama lacks.

And his “What have I done?” moment from February 25, 2009, writing about the appointment of Chas Freeman:

Chas Freeman is actually a new psychological type for a Democratic administration. He has never displayed a liberal instinct and wants the United States to kow-tow to authoritarians and tyrants, in some measure just because they may seem able to keep the streets quiet. And frankly, Chas brings a bitter rancor to how he looks at Israel. No Arab country and no Arab movement–basically including Hezbollah and Hamas–poses a challenge to the kind of world order we Americans want to see. He is now very big on Hamas as the key to bringing peace to Gaza, when in fact it is the key to uproar and bloodletting, not just against Israel but against the Palestinian Authority that is the only group of Palestinians that has even given lip-service (and, to be fair, a bit more) to a settlement with Israel.

That Freeman would be chosen as the president’s gatekeeper to national intelligence is an absurdity. It would be as if I were appointed the gatekeeper to that intelligence.

But Freeman’s real offense (and the president’s if he were to appoint him) is that he has questioned the loyalty and patriotism of not only Zionists and other friends of Israel, the great swath of American Jews and their Christian countrymen, who believed that the protection of Zion is at the core of our religious and secular history, from the Pilgrim fathers through Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. And how has he offended this tradition? By publishing and peddling the unabridged John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, with panegyric and hysteria. If Freeman believes that this book is the truth he can’t be trusted by anyone, least of all Barack Obama. I can’t believe that Obama wants to appoint someone who is quintessentially an insult to the patriotism of some many of his supporters, me included.

If only the mass media had done its job of fully vetting Barack Obama instead of being his cheerleader, these formerly “useful idiots” would not have so thoroughly humiliated themselves.

You can access the complete column on-line here:

Formerly Useful Idiots
Cliff Thier
American Thinker
March 16, 2009

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One Response

  1. Hi this blog is great I will be recommending it to friends.

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