After a bit of a tussle with the Miami-Dade Election Department, my wife and I, temporarily in California for family reasons, got our absentee ballots yesterday. This morning we had them back in the mail: Romney, Mack, and Ros-Lehtinen each have two votes on the way. As I filled out my lengthy ballot--which had an impressive number of State constitution and city charter amendments--the old cliche about "elections have consequences" kept bouncing around in my brain.
Elections have consequences. We see in elections a version of the phenomenon labelled "the tyranny of small decisions" by the late economist Alfred Kahn. He described how "small decisions" by consumers, e.g., to buy a Ford, a Toyota, or a Nissan instead of a Chevrolet, cumulatively can produce huge, unforeseen, and even undesired consequences. Do buyers of Ford, Toyota, or Nissan want GM to go out of business? Do they want to put hundreds of thousands of workers and suppliers on the street? Not necessarily, but that can prove the end result of millions of "small decisions." Voting is similar but also a bit different. Unlike buying a consumer good, when we cast our vote, our "small decision," we seek to put the person who does not receive it "out of business." We vote for or against a person for a variety of reasons; we often end up voting for somebody we only like marginally better or dislike marginally less than the person for whom we did not vote. We might also vote in haste, in ignorance, or out of emotion. Regardless of motivation or enthusiasm, that action has consequences, even beyond what we intended, e.g., did voters really give Obama a mandate to nationalize our medical care system?
I remember in 2008 seeing smart, experienced, apparently rational, and "well-educated" (I hate that term!) persons in the State Department overcome with a cult-like desire to support Barack Obama for President. Pointing out that the man had no foreign policy experience, no managerial experience, almost no political experience, a radical anti-American past and upbringing, an obscure educational record, and a clear inability to operate without a teleprompter had no effect on their support for him. The honest Obama backers at State would admit that they would vote for Obama because they saw it as "good" for America to elect a black President. I noted to these friends that I had not voted for Gore in 2000 just because he had a Jewish running mate, and, in fact, I voted for two Christians, Bush and Cheney. As a firm believer in the American creed, I could not understand voting for or against somebody based on the candidate's religion or ethnicity. I got nowhere. The spell could not be broken. This line of "reasoning" by Obama supporters was not only foolish but disastrous for our country--and that is how the Obama Presidency has turned out: disastrous.
The 2008 election had consequences. We see those everyday in our faltering domestic economy; in the parlous state of our public finances; in the constant erosion of personal liberty by a relentless onslaught from the state; and in the rapid unraveling of our stature and influence overseas. I am sure that not all, most, or even many Obama voters wanted those things, but we got them anyhow. With their votes they produced a national nightmare for all of us.
Others more qualified can discuss the economic consequences of electing Obama. Let me just focus on what I see as two prominent features in Obama's scandal filled landscape: "Fast and Furious," and the "Benghazi Fiasco and Cover-up." Both resulted from an ideologically driven refusal to see the world as it is. The Obama misadministration insisted on the liberal ploy of seeing what they believe, instead of the other way round.
"Fast and Furious" was about "proving" that America's "lax" gun laws, and the Red State attitude toward guns fueled the drug violence in Mexico. Drug violence does not, in this view, exist because of the insatiable appetite for drugs by liberal Hollywood and Manhattan elites, by liberal college students, by the denizens of the decaying inner cores of Democrat controlled cities, or even from the insane drug laws the advocates of ever-more government foist on us. No, not all. For the liberal mindset, drug violence in Mexico results from the exercise of second amendment rights by law abiding American citizens. As I have written many times before, the evidence on the ground did not support the theory that "drugs flow north and guns flow south." The cartels did not buy their guns in the US. In typical liberal fashion, therefore, the Obama Justice Department, acting through the ATF, decided to "prove" it so by making it so. The ATF created gun smuggling networks, sold them guns, and then watched as these moved into Mexico and into the hands of some of the world's best organized and most ruthless criminals. The result? Mayhem. Hundreds of Mexican citizens, and at least two US Federal agents murdered plus unknown numbers of other crimes on both sides of the border.
The Benghazi scandal is more complex than "F&F," and we have not yet seen all its facets exposed. Simply put, however, the murder of Stevens and three other staff was the result of liberal delusions about the Muslim world. The madness began with the totally unnecessary war against Desert Queen Qaddafi. By the time of Obama's "leading from behind" war on Libya, Qaddafi no longer posed a threat to the USA. The unpleasant old buzzard was cooperating with us in a number of key areas: he had renounced the use of terror; had dismantled his WMD program; re-established diplomatic relations with us; allowed the return of US oil companies to Libya; and actively cooperated with us against Al Qaeda. Our involvement in pushing him out of office made no sense, especially since we had no idea what would replace him and what the consequences for the region would be of his removal. Now we know.
Our Benghazi facility was a half-baked operation. It was not a consulate. It was a "facility" with an ambiguous purpose, at least as far as the unclassified world is concerned. It had a stunning lack of even basic security despite the rapidly deteriorating situation in Libya, and in eastern Libya in particular. The security level for our facilities in Libya was driven by the political consideration of maintaining the liberal fiction that Obama's war in Libya had succeeded; that the "Arab Spring" was akin to our own Revolution; and that the region "loved" President Obama. When things fell apart on September 11, the number one concern was not to do anything that would damage that narrative. Blame the crisis on an obscure video; blame it on a press release by the Romney campaign; blame it on subordinates. Above all, do nothing that would appear to show that the Obama misadministration had misunderstood reality in Libya and throughout the Muslim word. The result? Mayhem.
Both scandals were generally ignored by the mainstream media, or, even worse, the media accepted what I call the "Whitewater Defense." This tactic was perfected by the Clintons as they weaseled their way out of a major corruption scandal in Arkansas. That scandal was actually a simple one of real estate developers bribing Governor Bill Clinton with Hillary Clinton serving as the cut-out. The Clintons, however, got their friends in the media to accept, in essence, that Whitewater was just too complicated, boring, technical, and convoluted to explain. The Obama misadministration now has done the same: It successfully has used the media either to bury the stories of both scandals or to argue that they are just "too complicated"; we should not "politicize" these issues; and we should "wait for all the facts to come in." Those facts will not come in--at least not before November 6. When all else fails, the misadministration also has shown a willingness to cover-up unpleasant facts: The use of executive privilege in the "F&F" case, and a confusing blizzard of lies, half-truths, and conflicting time lines in the Benghazi Massacre case.
With some honorable exceptions, few journalists have shown themselves willing to delve into the muck of either scandal and do the job one would expect from journalists. The media has sought to help Obama spike the football on the Bin Laden story and to help spike the stories behind "Fast and Furious" and Benghazi. Where the Obama misadministration has miscalculated, of course, as I have stated many times, is with the attitude of the career bureaucracy; those bureaucrats might have voted for Obama, but they will not throw themselves on the grenade for him or Hillary. That is the "X" factor in the scandal as we see from the steady drip-drip-drip of information emerging from the labyrinths of State, CIA, and the Pentagon.
Does anybody believe that we would have had a "F&F" or a Benghazi scandal under a McCain administration? Does anybody believe that had something occurred under a McCain administration of that magnitude, or even something considerably more mundane, that we would not have all the media outlets, 24/7, relentlessly probing, investigating and demanding answers? That calls for impeachment would not have gone out? That it would be without doubt a one-term proposition? That the President would be losing in the polls by 20 points?
Elections have consequences.