On Election “Mandates,” Royal Rule, and Debt Limit Bluff—Er, Threats and Flip-Flops
By Ken K. Gourdin
While President Obama won the Electoral College vote 332 to 206, he won only 26 states and the District of Columbia, while Governor Romney won 24 states. True, Obama won the popular vote 51 percent to 47.2 percent for Romney, winning more populous states than the ones carried by Romney.
One wonders, however, how much of the vote was driven by policy and how much of it was driven by personality. Elsewhere on the blog, I have likened this election to a contest for student body office. Perhaps President Obama’s slogan should have been something akin to, “Vote for me. All of the football players, cheerleaders, and cool kids are going to.”
Despite the closeness of this election, however, and despite legitimate questions about voters’ motivations, Obama apparently has determined to treat it as a mandate, concluding that a majority of the electorate voted for him not simply because they like him more than they do the apparently-stodgy Romney, but rather because they support him in every policy particular.
This election was hardly a mandate, but President Obama certainly doesn’t know that. If he were more a student of history, perhaps President Obama could then learn what a real mandate (one which arises from a decisive reelection victory, which his certainly was not) looks like. In his run for reelection in 1984, President Ronald Reagan bested his challenger, Walter Mondale, garnering nearly 60 percent of the popular vote (to Mondale’s 41 percent), winning 49 states to Mondale’s one (plus the District of Columbia), garnering 54 million popular votes to Mondale’s 37 million, and garnering 525 electoral votes to Mondale’s paltry 13.
The sense of power arising from the delusion that one can do no wrong must be very intoxicating for President Obama, particularly in light of the fact that there is no longer any way (short of impeachment, but then guess who’s in charge? Sigh!) to hold him accountable. His petulant behavior during the first press conference he has held since his reelection smacks of the delusion that he has achieved rarified Royal status: “How dare the peasants question me?! Off with their heads!” He has apparently determined to take a similar tack with respect to his opponents in Congress.
As reported in National Review Online’s “The Corner” column, Andrew C. McCarthy reported that then-Senator Obama denounced a 2006 request from the Bush administration to raise the debt limit thus:
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
Demonstrating the truth of the old axiom that “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” now-President Obama has changed his tune on the debt limit. While that was then (and then, raising the debt limit would have been irresponsible), this is now (and not raising the debt limit will be irresponsible):
“The issue here [rather than being whether continued deficit spending is irresponsible] is whether or not America pays its bills,” Obama said at a press conference on Monday, the last of his first term in office. “We are not a deadbeat nation.” . . . And the president sought to frame the risks of default in stark terms. He warned markets would go “haywire” if Congress would not act; Obama said that interest rates would rise, and checks to Social Security beneficiaries and military veterans would cease.
Obama apparently is ignoring the fact that he has the power to prioritize how the government pays its bills in order to prevent any of those dire consequences from happening, but, as former Obama Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Immanuel always said, “Never let a crisis [no matter how artificially manufactured] go to waste!”
“We should reduce our deficit in a balanced way,” another favorite Obama chestnut, apparently is simply Obama’s way of paying lip service to fiscal sanity, and it means, “Deficit, schmeficit! Excuse me, but I have some more blank checks to sign.”
 Andrew C. McCarthy (January 4, 2013), “Senator Barack Obama Explaining His 2006 Vote Against Raising the Debt Limit,” National Review Onine (“The Corner”), accessed at the following address on January 16, 2013: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/256288/senator-barack-obama-explaining-his-2006-vote-against-raising-debt-limit-andrew-c-mcca.
 Michael O’Brien (January 14, 2013), “Obama chides GOP on debt limit: ‘We are not a deadbeat nation,’” accession line at the following address on January 16, 2013: http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/14/16505804-obama-chides-gop-on-debt-limit-we-are-not-a-deadbeat-nation?lite.