Real Clear Politics
Beware  the Law of Unintended Consequences


By _Victor  Davis Hanson_ 
December 01, 2016

The  mix of politics and culture is far too complex to be predictable. Even 
the  best-laid political plans can lead to unintended consequences, both 
good and bad  -- what we sometimes call irony, nemesis or karma. 
Take  the election of 2008, which ushered Barack Obama and the Democrats 
into absolute  control of the presidency, House and Senate, also generating 
popular goodwill  over Obama's landmark candidacy. 
Instead  of ensuring a heralded generation of Democratic rule, Obama 
alienated both  friends and foes almost immediately. He rammed through the 
unworkable Affordable  Care Act without a single Republican vote. He 
about Obamacare's  costs and savings. Huge budget deficits followed. Racial 
polarization ensured.  Apologies abroad on behalf of America proved a 
national turnoff. 
By  the final pushback of 2016, the Obama administration had proven to be a 
rare  gift to the Republican Party. The GOP now controls the presidency, 
Congress,  governorships and state legislatures to a degree not seen since the 
1920s. "Hope  and change" ebullition in 2008 brought the Republicans 
salvation -- and the  Democrats countless disasters. 
The  Republican establishment hated Donald Trump. So did the conservative 
media. His  unorthodox positions on trade, immigration and entitlements 
alienated many. His  vulgarity turned off even more. Pundits warned that he had 
brought civil war and  ruin to the Republican Party. 
But  instead of ruin, Trump delivered to the Republicans their most 
astounding  political edge in nearly a century. The candidate who was most 
by the  party unified it in a way no other nominee could have. 
Obama  proved Israel's best friend -- even though that was never his 
intention. By  simultaneously alienating Israel and the Sunni moderates in 
and Egypt,  and by warming up to the Muslim Brotherhood, appeasing Iran and 
issuing empty  red lines to the Assad regime in Syria, Obama infuriated but 
also united the  entire so-called moderate Middle East. 
The  result was that Arab nations suddenly no longer saw Israel as an 
existential  threat. Instead, it was seen as similarly shunned by the U.S. -- 
as the only  military power capable of standing up to the 
soon-to-be-nuclear theocracy in  Iran that hates Sunni Arabs and Israelis 
Today,  Israel is in the historic position of being courted by its former 
enemies, as  foreign fuel importers line up to buy its huge, newly discovered 
deposits of  natural gas. As the Arab Spring and the Islamic State 
destroyed neighboring  nations, Israel's democracy and free market appeared as 
even stronger beacon  in the storm. 
Almost  every major initiative that Obama pushed has largely failed. 
Obamacare is a  mess. He nearly doubled the national debt in eight years. 
growth is at  its slowest in decades. Reset with Russia, the Asian pivot, 
abruptly leaving  Iraq, discounting the Islamic State, red lines in Syria, 
the Iran deal -- all  proved foreign policy disasters. 
Yet  Obama has been quiet about one of the greatest economic revolutions in 
American  history, one that has kept the U.S. economy afloat: a radical 
transformation  from crippling energy dependency to veritable fossil-fuel 
independence. The  United States has become the world's greatest combined 
producer of coal, natural  gas and oil. It is poised to be an energy exporter 
much of the world. 
The  revolution in fracking and horizontal drilling has brought in 
much-needed  federal revenue, increased jobs, weakened Russia and our OPEC 
and has  given trillions of dollars in fuel savings to American consumers. 
Yet  Obama opposed the energy revolution at every step. He radically 
curtailed the  leasing of federal lands for new drilling, stopped the Keystone 
pipeline, and  subsidized inefficient and often crony-capitalist wind and 
solar projects.  Nonetheless, Obama's eventual failure to stop new drilling 
ended up his one  success. 
Hillary  Clinton, in her presidential bid, did everything by the playbook 
-- and  therefore her campaign went catastrophically wrong. Her campaign 
raised more  than $1 billion. She ran far more ads than did Trump. She won over 
the  sycophantic press. She got all the celebrity endorsements. She united 
the  Democratic Party. 
Logically,  Clinton should have won. The media worked hand in glove with 
her campaign. Her  ground game and voter registration drives made Trump's look 
Yet  all that money, press and orthodoxy only confirmed suspicions that 
Clinton was a  slick but wooden candidate. She became so scripted that even her 
Twitter feed  was composed by a committee. 
The  more she followed her boring narrative, the more she made the amateur 
Trump seem  authentic and energized in comparison. Doing everything right 
ended up for  Hillary as doing everything wrong -- and ensured the greatest 
upset in American  political history. 
The  ancient Greeks taught us that arrogance brings payback, that nothing 
is sure in  a fickle universe, that none of us can be judged successful and 
happy until we  die, and that moderation and humility alone protect us from 
own darker  sides. 
In  2016, what could never have happened usually  did.

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