The Magazine

A New Circus Comes to Town

They're going to need more than three rings.

Jan 19, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 17 • By P.J. O'ROURKE
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So we may speak without compunction of the failed Obama presidency. What a blessing that it's a failure. Things are bad enough the way they are. There's already a huge ongoing government intervention in the economy. Bringing the government in to run Wall Street is like saying, "Dad burned dinner, let's get the dog to cook." Now the government's going to take over the auto industry. I can predict the result--a light-weight, compact, sustainable vehicle using alternative energy. When I was a kid we called it a Schwinn. And next in line for political therapy is health care. Voting will cure what ails you. Go to the doctor when you've got cancer, and he'll say, "Don't worry. Everything will be fine. I'm going to treat your disease by going inside this small, curtained booth and putting an 'X' next to a very special name."

If we want this sort of thing and lots more of it, we'll need somebody better--that is to say worse--than Barack Obama. Is Obama the man who can make the wolf of partisan spoils dwell with the lamb of public interest, and the leopard of increased political power lie down with the kid of individual liberty; and the calf of personal responsibility and the young lion of social engineering and the fatling of free enterprise together; and a lawyer from Hyde Park will lead them? (And will Nancy Pelosi eat straw like Dennis Kucinich?)

No. Barack Obama doesn't have the outsized personality and flair for bunkum that is necessary to lead even America's sheep-like electorate into such ravenous company. Thank God.

Barack Obama is not a P.T. Barnum of the Washington Big Top. The real P.T. Barnum had a side-show attraction where a lamb, a wolf, a leopard, and a lion had been trained to stay with each other in one cage. Asked if this was difficult Barnum said, "No. But every now and then we have to get a new lamb."

P.J. O'Rourke is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.