Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
“Never allow a good crisis go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, advocated.
At the start of the pandemic, Emanuel was back with a Washington Post op-ed headlined, “Let’s make sure this crisis doesn’t go to waste”.
Two years later, the Biden administration is in the polling dumpster because it was determined to carry on the Obama administration’s policy of exploiting every crisis to the max.
Democrats dominated the twentieth century by seizing on real crises from world wars to depressions, and exploiting social problems such as racism or poverty, to impose their agenda. They governed by crisis, socializing the economy, declaring war on social ills, and scapegoating anyone who didn’t rush to go along as narrow-minded reactionaries and bigots.
Emanuel was not advocating anything new. Obama and Biden were the latest two Democrats to dress in FDR drag and pass off lefty plans for transforming the country as an answer to a crisis.
Except this time it bombed badly.
Biden’s poll numbers are terrible and just two years after the media was cheering the prospect of permanent Democrat majority rule, the jackass party is clearing out the House as its members rush to be the first to retire ahead of projected catastrophic midterm losses.
What went wrong? The Biden administration decided not to let a crisis go to waste.
When the vultures descended on Washington D.C.in January 2021, they were prepared to feast on a mountain of carcasses with so many crises to choose from, the pandemic, the economy, and their manufactured crises of racism and democracy. Not even FDR had so many crises to work with. And they would do what he couldn’t, pack the Supreme Court and the Senate, change voting procedures, purge conservatives, and become a permanent ruling class.
The public backlash didn’t take long to arrive.
What the Democrats forgot is that crisis governance has become its own punishment. Americans rewarded Republicans with a congressional majority after September 11, but sharply punished the party in 2006 as the Iraq War continued to drag on. The backlash to Obama’s crisis governance arrived much more swiftly with a Republican landslide in 2010. A year later, Emanuel dumped the crisis and abandoned his powerful role to take over running Chicago.
Biden’s people, many of them Obama holdovers, learned nothing from the experience.
They forgot that successfully exploiting a crisis also puts you in charge of solving it. And that crises have unexpected consequences. Obama’s exploitation of an economic mess faded away in the face of the public backlash and he pivoted to the safer territory of exploiting racism.
Fortunately for him neither were real enduring crises.
Biden rode four crises into office, two real and two fake, and decided to ignore the real crises and focus on the fake ones, ignoring the economic and medical catastrophes of the pandemic to push election rigging and equity. He met the supply chain and inflation crisis by blaming companies for high prices, blamed crime fed by the Black Lives Matter movement and its allied Soros prosecutors on a lack of gun control, and proposed fixing the economic wreckage with electric car subsidies, electric car chargers, and $800 subsidies for electric bikes.
And that’s without even mentioning Afghanistan.
Biden could have avoided this mess if his administration hadn’t been so nakedly eager to exploit the crises in such ruthlessly self-serving ways. The public would still have turned on him as the problems multiplied, but it wouldn’t have been as dramatic a downhill slide as it became.
When you’re this overt about not letting a crisis go to waste, you become your own crisis.
As Biden gets back to pushing election rigging, it fell to the media to politely mention that, “the president’s partisan election-reform push is a distraction from the biggest challenges the White House faces: the economy, COVID, and crime.” From the Biden administration’s perspective, the economic, the pandemic, and crime are distractions from pushing permanent Dem rule.
But that’s what happens when you try to be FDR.
Democrats have two three letter presidential models: FDR and JFK. The massive cultural footprint of both men has convinced White House Democrats to just “go for it” and expect that history will approve. But barring a world war against pure evil or a successful assassination, that model doesn’t work. Obama isn’t remembered as either another FDR or JFK. Neither is Bill Clinton. And Biden is pretty obviously set to be a punch line in the annals of the nation’s history.
“These are the times that try men’s souls,” Thomas Paine wrote in The Crisis.
Crisis governance is challenging. It requires determination, planning, and charisma. Biden has none of these qualities and is as unsuited to coping with even one crisis as he would be to playing for the NBA. And the hacks around him, from Kamala to Ron Klain to Jen Psaki, have even less in the way of a soul.
Biden is an elder statesman, which is a polite way of saying that he spent most of his life hanging around Washington D.C., and doesn’t know how to live anywhere else. Democrats and Republicans usually nominate such men, like McCain, Dole, or Kerry, Mondale, when they expect to lose anyway. No one actually expects them to determine the fate of the nation.
Crisis governance requires vision. And no one ever accused Biden of having vision.
Since FDR, crisis governance backed by oversight from academics and advocacy by journalists and activists became the Democrat default. Administrations were culturally defined by pop culture celebrity and their vision outsourced to think tanks funded by lefty megadonors.
But no amount of celebrities could make Biden cool and when gas prices are soaring and store shelves are empty, no one cares about cool. Think tank policy papers helped create the political transformation of the country, but like Soviet five years plans, they’re unsuited for emergencies.
The model that worked so well for fake crises crashed and burned in the face of a real crisis.
A fake crisis goes away when the media stops talking about it, but a real crisis is the thing that is still there even when the media ignores it, when the spokesmen dismiss it, and the experts fact check it. And the only thing worse than exploiting a crisis is pretending that it isn’t there.