For those on the right, the central question concerning the Obama presidency is whether he’s an incompetent boob getting everything wrong or a political and ideological mastermind who’s simply letting us believe that he’s failing at the goals that Americans assume an American president will share with them. The blogger at Neo-Neocon is of the mastermind school of thought:
Obama is here to punish America for its sins, and he’s been very successful at that. That the left and many liberals continue to love him, continue to support him, is a puzzlement to many people. But why wouldn’t those who have been successfully taught that America is a great evil in the world—birthed in evil, steeped in evil, and empowered by evil; especially racial evil but also countless other evils big and small—applaud his efforts?
Allow me to characterize myself as a moderate on this question. Yes, President Obama is overtly bringing the United States down a few pegs, but his thinking is sufficiently deluded that he believes everybody will be better off for it. When that belief runs into the contrary evidence of reality, it’s somebody else’s fault or temporary turbulence, and as for the belief’s internal contradictions, well, those progressives just ignore. In their view, of course you can knock somebody down a few pegs and still make him better off, at least where it counts, just like you can throw restraints around the private sector and still expect to collect the wealth that it throws off when it moves.
I guess I just don’t see any mystery in the fact that a leader acting with fundamentally flawed ideas would do damage. For Obama to be knowingly imposing a penance on the American people, he’d have to understand both that his ideas are flawed and that they will inevitably do harm. Human nature is such that we don’t need to go to such lengths of deliberate conspiracy to explain events.
To some extent, my Christianity may be a prerequisite of my sense of the question. No person is evil, and yet our actions make evil palpable in the world. The agency of evil isn’t the individual perpetrating it, but something much broader and more powerful. Its advantage comes in setting up the game so that failure and incompetence — by the standards of the good and virtuous — bring about its desired ends.
I find this interpretation not only more satisfying on the counts of hope and charity, but also more explanatory. Con artist though he may be, the election of Barack Obama required decades of cultural preparation and impossible coordination. The damage that he’s managed to do has owed much to complicity in the judiciary and the bureaucracy and to the failure of the people’s remedy — a legislature controlled by the opposing party — to offer the check that voters wanted (although some might argue that Obama lucked into having Congress offer enough of a check to avoid a more-rapid disaster). Maybe they’re in on the scheme, but more likely, they’re just following the incentives that have developed in the rigged game at the behest of dark forces.
In brief, Obama’s not usurping the progressive groundwork; he’s fulfilling it. Some will look for evil masterminds who put the avalanche into motion, but I think it was more a matter of the internal logic of a few key tenets of progressivism, which drew together people acting with diverse intentions and led us to this moment.
These matters inevitably reach a spiritual plane, and inasmuch as God allows us space for free will, one can construct a worldview to fit the pieces with or without a belief in Him or the demons who work against Him. Whichever view one takes, however, I’d argue for the importance of the broader interpretation. If Obama is just some rare political genius, then we can just wait until he’s off the stage and rebuild. I don’t think we get off that easy.