Here are some questions from Victor Davis Hanson on how the precedents Obama has set could result in a changed America even after he leaves office:

The nation has grown used to the idea that what the president says is probably either untrue or irrelevant — and yet it does not really any more care which.

The people also assume that it doesn’t matter if our pundits talk of the person in the White House as a “messiah” who prompts tingling legs, or if they take notice of perfect pant-leg creases, or, of course, if they declare that he is the smartest president ever.

The result, in the Age of Obama, is a deeply rooted cynicism that works out something like the following: The president of the United States is now an iconic figure and thus cannot be held to the minimal standards of veracity demanded of other Americans. The press is an advocate of his agenda and picks and chooses which scandals can be half-heartedly pursued without endangering their shared vision.

How could the media possibly repair its sullied reputation without appearing abjectly hypocritical or artificially zealous? How can the next president resist assuming the extra-constitutional prerogatives of the current one?

These dangers loom large, although it’s not so clear that people have become quite as blasé as all that. Also, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if this distrust of a president were to lead to less willingness in the future to turn power over to the central government.

But what Hanson is saying is that the combination of distrust, acceptance of it, a president willing to abuse his power by extending it in extra-constitutional ways, and a press inclined to give him a pass on his abuses bodes very ill for the republic.

I would reassure him on one score, though: if a Republican is elected as our next president, we’ll see the press immediately snap back to its traditional role as critic and gadfly. This will help shape many people’s perceptions of that president even though some may see it as a hypocritical double standard on the part of the press.

It is only with a Democrat (such as, for example, Hillary Clinton, who would also be the first woman president) that the press will continue to go all weak with admiration, although I don’t know if we’ll ever again see quite the extreme degree of worship its members extended to Obama.

For starters, there can be no second first African-American president. What’s more, Obama cast a spell over them in some additional ways which are not completely understood even now, despite all the thinking and writing we on the right have been doing on the subject for the last six years. Even Obama’s Democratic successors may have difficulty duplicating that strong an effect.

So the campaign slogan for the next Republican candidate for president could be: “Vote for me, and help the press start doing its job again!”

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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