The Right Opinion

2012: When Dreams Died

By Victor Davis Hanson · Dec. 27, 2012

The year 2012 saw the triumph of cold reality over pie-in-the-sky dreams.

Barack Obama in 2008 won an election on an upbeat message of change in the hope that the first black president would mark a redemptive moment in American history. Four years later, the fantasies are gone. In continuing dismal economic times, Obama ran for re-election neither on his first-term achievements – Obamacare, bailouts, financial stimuli and Keynesian mega-deficits – nor on more utopian promises.

Instead, Obama’s campaign systematically reduced his rival, Wall Street financier Mitt Romney, to a conniving, felonious financial pirate who did dastardly things, from letting the uninsured die to putting his pet dog Seamus in a cage on top of the family car.

Obama once had mused that he wished to be the mirror image of Ronald Reagan – successfully coaxing America to the left as the folksy Reagan had to the right. Instead, 2012 taught us that a calculating Obama is more a canny Richard Nixon, who likewise used any means necessary to be re-elected on the premise that his rival would be even worse. But we know what eventually happened to the triumphant, pre-Watergate Nixon after November 1972; what will be the second-term wages of Obama’s winning ugly?

The so-called fiscal cliff offers more examples of 2012 dreams giving way to reality. Obama will probably get his long-promised taxes on the rich. But so what? There are not enough caricatured “millionaires and billionaires” even to make a dent in his administration’s fifth consecutive $1 trillion-plus deficit.

Instead, all that is left for Obama is to go over the cliff or wait for Republicans to counter-propose the necessary cuts in entitlements so that he can both reluctantly accept these budget-saving measures and demonize those who so threaten “the most vulnerable.” What will stop the massive borrowing is not the myth of bipartisan cooperation, but the reality of returning high interest rates that will make the current splurging simply unsustainable.

What did we learn from the killings of Americans in Benghazi? So far, the fantasy of jailing a single Coptic filmmaker for posting an anti-Islamic video has trumped the reality of holding the administration accountable for allowing lax security and offering only feeble responses to a massacre prompted by a pre-planned, al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic post.

As the year ended, a deranged 20-year-old killer in Newtown, Conn., shot down 26 children and adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The nation decried the killer’s access to his murdered mother’s semi-automatic arsenal to achieve his gruesome toll.

But banning the sale of assault weapons will probably not stop another Newtown massacre any more than an earlier ban prevented the Columbine shootings – unless the federal government is prepared to enter American homes and confiscate millions of previously purchased semi-automatic and assault weapons. Steps toward a far more realistic solution – jawbone Hollywood to quit romanticizing gratuitous cruelty and violence; censor sick, macabre video games; restrict some freedoms of the mentally ill; and put armed security guards into the schools – are as much an anathema to civil libertarians as the banning of some guns is a panacea. So we pontificate while waiting for the next massacre.

In February, the European Union grandly announced a second – and last – 130 billion-euro bailout of Greece and an apparent solution to the southern European debt crisis. But the year ended with Greece never poorer and never more indebted. The proper solution was never band-aiding Greece with some German euros, but rather asking why under the EU system had Greece – and other Mediterranean EU members – been allowed to become so indebted for so long in the first place.

On June 30, supposed reformist Mohamed Morsi was sworn in as president of a new democratic Egypt amid grand talk of the Arab Spring. But in November, Morsi, as a good Islamist, hounded out of office his secular rivals in the judiciary and suspended the rule of law. And days ago, by popular vote, Morsi oversaw the implementation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s version of Sharia Law as the basis of the new Egyptian constitution. Given the chaos of Libya and Syria, and the murder of Americans in Benghazi, the cruel winter of 2012 has now ended the dreamy Arab Spring of 2011.

As the year ends, there are ominous signs of impending financial implosion at home. Abroad, we see a soon-to-be nuclear Iran, an even more unhinged nuclear North Korea, a new Islamic coalition against Israel, a bleeding European Union, and a more nationalist Germany and Japan determined to achieve security apart from the old but increasingly suspect U.S. guarantees.

The year 2012 should have taught us that dreaming is no answer to reality; 2013 will determine how well we learned that lesson.



Alex in NJ said:

Obama is the worst president ever.

Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 8:42 AM

Joel in Ohio said:

Forget the image of a fiscal cliff. It's more like a fiscal mountain. Obama wanted Rudoph the Millionaire Reindeer to do its share and pull the overloaded debt sleigh up the mountain. Neither party is doing anything to reduce the weight of all the entitlement goodies on the sleigh, nor reduce the size of the debt mountain that lies ahead.
Surely, we are on the path of Greece and the Road to Serfdom. Obama continues to be the great imposter and illusionist having the media, educators, and his cronies abetting his schemes. Unfortunately, he doesn't say anything about the rest of the middle and lower class reindeer that are also hitched up and will ultimately have to pull their share of the overloaded sleigh up the hill. Obama's view: what hill?
The N is misplaced in his utopiaN society, making it a Nut-opia phantasy. Oops, Santa just fell off the roof. Maybe, it's time for the American public to grow up and realize that Santa lives only in the mind of a child.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Shel in Alaska replied:

Not only is neither party doing anything to stop entitlement spending, they're doing everything they can to increase the rolls! Their goal is to get as many people dependent on the government as possible, and they are succeeding. It's how they maintain their power. It kills me that every other species in the world must figure out how to provide for their offspring except for humans. I would be ashamed if I couldn't provide food for my children, but the Dept of Ag is making ads to remove shame from the equation. Even a squirrel has to put food away for its little ones or they starve, but in America we're not expected to do even that much. The future is bleak.

Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

Sheldon, The problem is the idiots want you and I and every other taxpayer to feed their kids . It never occurs to the liberal fools that we might have kids of our own to feed. They see nothing wrong with taking from those who get up every day and go to work and giving it those to damn lazy to work.

Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 5:49 PM

Cal in in SoCal said:

As usual, Victor Davis Hanson nails it! The Chicago mob found out that they can pull on the entire nation what works in Chicago. Soon, the entire nation will go the same way - down. Obviously the voters like it. Four more years coming up - if we last that long. The Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves. What a shame. We once were a great nation.

Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

48 more months, and 12 more quarterly abysmal jobs reports-EGADS! Smelly rats- tax, spend , and borrow-the heck with tomorrow,I want, I want, gimme, gimme!"SELFISHNESS RUN AMOK!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 4:54 PM

M Rick Timms MD in Georgia said:

Nothing will change toward Liberty unless and until there is an equal force countering the lies and leftist ideology the National Mainstream Media.

They are complicit in Obama's tenure and must be held accountable.

Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 10:36 PM