Obama Era Begins

Has ever a president begun his administration with more fanfare and anticipation? If you listen to the media, Obama’s inauguration is the crowning of the new Sun King. Parties abound and, according to one news report, the beautiful people prepping for the inaugural have caused a run on Botox in the Washington area.

Obama’s economic stimulus apparently begins unofficially with his inaugural festivities today which will reportedly cost about $170 million. The Washington, DC party catering industry will surely survive.

Barack Obama takes the oath of office with a soaring approval rating — according to the RealClearPolitics average — of 73%. The Monday Rasmussen poll reported that 43% strongly approve Obama’s performance. But the performance won’t begin until about noon today.

We anticipate that Obama’s inaugural address will, like his campaign speeches, soar rhetorically. He will call on Americans to make sacrifices for the common good, promise that the road to salvation will be long and hard and that his vision and wisdom will guide us along it.

As we enter the Obama Era, the new president and his cohorts face so many crises at home and abroad that doubt infuses the inauguration of our first black president. The doubt is not just conservative skepticism of a liberal’s intentions. The skepticism is subjective. The doubts are objective.

We have to doubt the efficacy of Obama’s plans to revive our economy. He promised that his proposed stimulus legislation will create or save three million jobs. If we use the estimated cost of the House Democrats’ bill as a basis — $825 billion — it means that Obama and the Democrats will spend about $275,000 to create or save each job.

How can we believe that the government can create or save a job more efficiently than industry? If the cost is $275,000 a job, and the average American family’s income is only $50,000, why does the government need to spend more than five times the average income to create or save one job?

Obama promises to spend money on jobs that restore our infrastructure in rebuilding schools, highways and other public works. But Congressional Democrats are promising only 3% of the bill — about $30 billion — for those programs. How many jobs can be created with $30 billion? If each costs $275,000, only about 110,000 jobs will be created or saved.

But under Obama’s “American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan”, he promises that less money — $25 billion — will save one million jobs by reinvesting in infrastructure projects.

In a speech four days before his inauguration, Obama upped the ante. He told an Ohio audience that his plan, “…will save or create three to four million jobs in businesses large and small across a wide range of industries — and 90 percent of these jobs will be in the private sector. And I want to be clear — we’re not looking to create just any kind of jobs here. We’re looking to create good jobs that pay well and won’t be shipped overseas. Jobs that don’t just put people to work in the short-term, but position our economy to be on the cutting edge in the long-term.”

The doubt raised by the ever-increasing number of jobs promised and the mathematical calculations that show the job numbers don’t match the job estimates entitle us to be skeptical about Obama’s economic plans. The number of jobs he promises to save or create continues to grow. The costs must follow. And how will Obama’s plan actually stimulate the economy? What will make it different from and better than George Bush’s nationalization of the financial sector?

Why should we believe that, with economic incentives such as the tax breaks proposed by the House Republican Study Committee, industry couldn’t create more jobs at less cost?

The economic crisis is only one critical problem the new president faces. Other nations and state-sponsored terrorist groups threaten our survival. Throughout the campaign, Mr. Obama promised to end the war in Iraq, close Guantanamo Bay’s terrorist detention facility and negotiate directly with Iran. After Hillary Clinton ridiculed his promise to negotiate with Iran without preconditions — she called him “irresponsible and frankly naïve” — Obama backed down a bit, saying the negotiations would only be after some ill-defined preparations.

Mr. Obama hasn’t backed down from his idea of negotiating directly with Iran despite the fact that in the three decades the ayatollahs have ruled Iran no nation has negotiated successfully with them on anything. No nation has gotten the principal terrorist nation to change its behavior or ambitions. Mr. Obama thinks he can, but given Tehran’s track record, we must doubt.

Obama is a foreign affairs naïf: he has no experience or training to prepare him for this challenge. He apparently will have to re-make the mistakes others have made to learn for himself. And our skepticism imposes on him, and on us, a limitation of time.

The EU-3 — Britain, France and Germany — spent five years in their Quixotic effort to negotiate Iran out of its nuclear weapons ambitions. In those five years, Iran has reached the point at which it may be able to manufacture a nuclear weapon this year. How long will it take for the Sun King to learn this lesson? And what will Iran achieve in that time?

Chesley Sullenberger — the hero pilot who ditched his aircraft in the Hudson River last week after a bird strike disabled both engines — is a 1973 graduate of the US Air Force Academy. He went on to a career flying fighters and leading wargame exercises before becoming an airline pilot. All told, Sullenberger reportedly has logged about 19,000 flight hours.

Sullenberger’s life has been dedicated to learning, practicing and teaching the art of flying. When his moment came, that lifetime of training and experience enabled him to save 155 lives.

Barack Obama’s moment will come, more than once, in the next four years. His training and experience — really, his lack of both — raise objective doubts about his ability to deal with the crises he faces at home and abroad. And his lack of ineluctably compels us to skepticism.

Every American must wish him success. We hope he will surprise us by meeting challenges with policies that are not just liberal nostrums. But objectively-justified skepticism limits our enthusiasm at the crowning of the liberal Sun King.