He's going! He's going! The Constitution provides that even the rowdiest celebrations of political indulgence end on a date certain.
The Obama bacchanals wind down in 12 months. A new host — to be identified before the end of the year — will take over. All we know in the meantime is that the cleanup bill, to whomsoever presented, will be large.
Meanwhile, as 2016 began, Barack H. Obama was thoughtful enough to remind his fellow countrymen of the "legacy" he leaves the cleanup crew.
Item No. 1: Gun control. Obama this week proudly announced a package of presidential initiatives aimed, so to speak, at reducing the number of murders committed with firearms. The package includes requirements for tighter licensing of gun dealers and enhanced oversight of buyers.
Points to notice:
A. Obama proposes to fling out an improvised net, with no idea as to whom it would entrap: mass murderers, ranchers, sportsmen, gun collectors or homeowners desiring an extra measure of protection. He hopes the net might stop just "one act of evil" — "hope" and "might" making this a fairly flimsy justification for the intensification of policies that lack much public support.
B. Never one to worry about public support, Obama is practiced at the art of trying to get his way through executive orders that give the raspberry to a Congress with different ideas.
C. The Constitution explicitly divides power among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government to forestall concentrations of power in a single branch and thus that branch's dominance of the others. Obama gives no sign, and never has, of modesty when it comes to governing; he gives no sign that he understands the virtue of compromise with opponents. What he wants, he wants — and means to get, with bulldozer force if necessary.
Item No. 2. American power. The first week of January found the leader of the free world reviewing (we can hope he took time to do so) the consequences of sitting back, plan-less, during an overseas rampage.
Points to notice:
A. Whereas once America knew its friends and its foes, backing the first and obstructing the second, Obama's America can't tell the difference between the two. The president's policy of disengagement from a world he believes was often victimized by America leaves few with any clue as to whom America regards as its allies.
B. "World policeman" is a role for which, understandably, few Americans yearn. Policing, nevertheless, has to get done. Cuffs have to be slipped over hands about to do mischief.
C. By letting Iran virtually dictate the terms of last summer's nuclear deal, while ignoring Israeli warnings, Obama likely saw himself setting the stage for American-Iranian reconciliation. To show its reformed spirit, Iran has staged two ballistic-missile tests and fired unguided rockets that landed about the length of four Jordan Spieth drives from a U.S. aircraft carrier. Then Iranian mobs sacked the Saudi Embassy and did the usual death-to-America bit.
D. What people of questionable intentions get away with doing, they tend to do again: meaning we haven't heard the last of the Iranians and others (e.g., the Syrians, Russians and ISIS) who view the New America as a nation too confused and tremulous to warn off marauders, much less punish them in some convincing way.
The spirit of the Obama presidency — whose mission was "bringing us together," if you recall — is that of a nation exhausted and penitent when it comes to foreign policy; voracious in its appetite for domestic power, never mind formal legal restraints; and disdainful of the older America it sees as wheezy and played-out.
As the Obama pageant winds down at last, the question presents itself: Is there any going back? Or is it, after all, too late? That's what elections are about: the chance to change course; to recalibrate; to renew. Or not. The media mandarins seem not to regard such renewal as likely — a good reason, one would think, to rejoice at how real people still vastly outnumber the mandarins.
William Murchison writes from Dallas. His latest book is "The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson."
Photo credit: Ash Carter