In three and a half years of blogging, this has been my single most unpopular post. There’s little point, I know, in reminding readers that my support for Barack Obama was qualified; that I simultaneously endorsed GOP Congressional candidates; that I never saw Obama as a messiah and, indeed, was repelled by the millenarian fervour of his supporters. Nor is there much purpose in rehearsing John McCain’s shortcomings. The fact remains that I backed the Democrat.
I was wrong. Not that Obama is without his good points, obviously. His commitment to school choice is unfeigned. His foreign policy has been a jolly sight cheaper than McCain’s would have been. The election of a mixed-race president who opposed the Iraq war has made the USA slightly more popular.
None of these advantages, however, can make up for the single most important fact of Obama’s presidency, namely that the federal government is 30 per cent larger than it was two years ago
This is not entirely Obama’s fault, of course. The credit crunch occurred during the dying days of the Bush administration, and it was the 43rd president who began the baleful policy of bail-outs and pork-barrel stimulus packages. But it was Obama who massively extended that policy against united Republican opposition. It was he who chose, in defiance of public opinion, to establish a state-run healthcare system. It was he who presumed to tell private sector employees what they could earn, he who adopted the asinine cap-and-trade rules, and he who re-federalised social security, thereby reversing the single most beneficial reform of the Clinton years.
These errors are not random. They amount to a comprehensive strategy of Europeanisation: Euro-carbon taxes, Euro-disarmament, Euro-healthcare, Euro-welfare, Euro-spending levels, Euro-tax levels and, inevitably, Euro-unemployment levels. Any American reader who wants to know where Obamification will lead should spend a week with me in the European Parliament. I’m working in your future and, believe me, you won’t like it.
Unsurprisingly, given his enthusiasm for corporatism at home, Obama is an unqualified supporter of the EU. “In my view there’s no Old Europe or New Europe,” he announced at his very first overseas summit, silkily repudiating Donald Rumsfelt’s distinction. “There is a united Europe. I believe in a strong Europe, and a strong European Union, and my administration is committed to doing everything we can to support you.”
His fondness for the EU is matched by his disdain for the United Kingdom. It’s not the diplomatic snubs that bother me: the dissing of Gordon Brown, the insulting gifts, the sending back of Winston Churchill’s bust. It’s not even the faux-anger towards the company he insists on calling “British” Petroleum. (No such firm has existed since the merger of BP and Amoco nine years ago. Thirty-nine per cent of BP shares are American-owned, and 40 per cent British-owned. The stricken rig in the Gulf is owned by Transocean, and the drilling was carried out by Halliburton, yet Obama isn’t demanding compensation from either of these American corporations.)
All these things are minor irritants compared to the way the Obama administration is backing Peronist Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands – or, as Obama’s people call them, “the Malvinas”. British troops were the only sizeable contingent to support the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have fought alongside America in most of the conflicts of the past hundred years. Yet, when the chips are down, Obama lines up with Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega against us.
Not that we should feel singled out. The Obama administration has scorned America’s other established friends. It has betrayed Poland and the Czech Republic, whose Atlanticist governments had agreed to accept the American missile defence system at immense political cost, only to find the project cancelled. It has alienated Israel and India. It has even managed to fall out with Canada over its “Buy American” rules and its decision to drill in disputed Arctic waters. Never has there been a worse time to be a US ally.
No one denies that Obama was dealt a rotten economic hand; but he has played it ineptly. His policies are serving to make his country poorer, less free and less respected. And that is a problem for all of us .