The rise of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States suggested a slightly sick country: A completely unaccomplished man elected to the highest political office on the planet on promises of “hope and change” based on radical and ignorant ideas.
To be sure, signs of at-least-minor political illness predate Obama: the Republican brand was (and to a large extent remains) deeply tarnished by years of Republican big spending, corruption, lack of legislative achievements, and did I mention big spending?
No doubt you can name even earlier symptoms.
Despite all the current noise, our national political illness is not defined by the behavior of the president; instead, the cancer is the mindset of the public and of politicians who tolerate or justify the behavior. It is not what you see on the surface but what is happening underneath.
Again, this didn’t start with Obama.
Republicans created Medicare Part D (the prescription drug benefit), a massive entitlement which, on its first day, had an unfunded liability greater than that of the Social Security system. President Bush presided over massive increases in spending — the biggest since LBJ. According to the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards, “Even without TARP and Fannie/Freddie, spending was up a huge 70 percent under Bush over eight years. By contrast, total spending under eight years of President Clinton increased just 32 percent.”