The Presumptions of Obama Support


Mort Zuckerman, editor in chief of U.S. News, has an interesting op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today in which he expresses his discontent with President Obama: “Like many Americans who supported him, I long for a triple-A president to run a triple-A country.” 

This is a reference to the President’s bizarre post-downgrade speech on August 8, for which he showed up 53 minutes late, and said nothing more substantial than “We’ve always been, and always will be, a triple-A country.”  Zuckerman sees that 53 minutes of empty podium as a totem of the Obama presidency.

Zuckerman does a fine job of summarizing the complaints one hears from the growing crowd of disillusioned Obama supporters… and gives us a good look at some of the curiously stubborn illusions they still retain.

For example, this is how he renders his criticism of Obama’s chronic high unemployment, the lead item on most indictments of the Obama Presidency:

Mr. Obama seems unable to get a firm grip on the toughest issue facing his presidency and the country—the economy. He now asserts he is going to “pivot” to jobs. Now we pivot to jobs? When there are already 25 million Americans who are either unemployed or cannot find full-time work? Does this president not appreciate what is going on?

In fact, Barack Obama has announced “pivots to job creation” fifteen times.  It’s not a new assertion, and treating it as such gives Obama too much credit for relatively benign neglect.  It’s painfully obvious that he continues to have many priorities ranking far above job creation, including some that actively destroy jobs, such as preserving ObamaCare.  Recovering Obama supporters do themselves no favors by asking if the president “appreciates what is going on.”

Zuckerman continues by retailing a myth too many Democrats are still hanging on to:

Meanwhile, everyone in the business world is pleading for some kind of adult supervision to build a national platform for sustained growth that includes a long-term fiscal plan that addresses our ballooning debt. They are desperate for strong leadership and feel that all we are getting out of Washington is a lot of noise as Democrats and Republicans blame one another.

There sure is a lot of “noise” coming out of Washington – it’s a noisy place – but that most certainly is not all we’ve gotten.  One of the parties actually did put real, concrete proposals on the table during the debt-ceiling crisis, again and again.  Hint: it’s the one that starts with “R”.  You don’t have to like all – or any – of these proposals to concede their existence. 

Rep. Paul Ryan has taken epic levels of abuse for grabbing one of the “third rails” of American politics, and hanging on for dear life.  Senator Jim DeMint has said he could have gotten the Cut, Cap & Balance Act through the Senate with four more votes.  These are bona fide pieces of legislation, which can be acknowledged without supporting them.  The permanent defense mechanism of wobbly Democrats is the pretense that everyone in Washington behaves like their Party’s leadership – as if the only two storylines in Washington are “Democrats making progress” and “everybody squabbling.”

Zuckerman hits Obama for his myopic insistence on tax increases:

He made the politically tested and calculated statement that if you raise taxes on billionaires and millionaires you could solve the problem. This is not so. Even for those who support higher taxes on the wealthy, as I do, we must remember that we have an income tax system in which fully half the “taxpayers” pay no tax at all, and in which the variety of loopholes cries out for a real reform of the tax code.

Hold on a second there, Mr. Zuckerman.  You just said you wanted “a national platform for sustained growth.”  Such a platform would include pro-growth tax cuts, not higher taxes on the “wealthy.”  You can’t have them both.  When Democrat voters accept that, we’ll be closer to the “adult supervision” Zuckerman pleads for, and we’ll waste less time listening to the destructive thunder of class-warfare drums.

Zuckerman goes on to say “there are no serious proposals” from the White House, Congress, or Treasury to address our complex and unfair tax system.  That’s not true.  Plenty of congressional representatives, including Ryan and DeMint, have advocated serious tax reforms.  Most of the GOP presidential candidates favor either some form of flat tax, or the Fair Tax, which would junk most of the tax code in favor of a consumption-based national sales tax. 

Zuckerman winds up by citing one of the worst developments for the Obama re-election campaign: the dissolution of his novelty appeal:

Many voters who supported him are no longer elated by the historic novelty of his candidacy and presidency. They hoped for a president who would be effective. Remember “Yes We Can”? Now many of his sharpest critics are his former supporters. Witness Bill Broyles, a one-time admirer who recently wrote in Newsweek that “Americans aren’t inspired by well-meaning weakness.” 

There’s the last of the illusions Obama supporters need to discard.  There’s no reason to keep giving Obama credit for “well-meaning weakness.”  He doesn’t do a good job of defending his policy priorities to the public, but that’s because he doesn’t think he has to.  His agenda has been remorselessly enforced through regulatory agencies.  Just to cite a recent example, he’s imposed the DREAM Act amnesty rejected by Congress through fiat. 

Obama has ruthlessly played class-warfare cards to divide Americans from each other.  There was nothing “well-meaning” about his pathetic repeated efforts to make corporate jet owners into Public Enemy Number One.  There was nothing benign about his encouraging supporters to “get in people’s faces.”  His inexcusable silence during the post-Tucson slander of conservatives was not well-meaning weakness.  He didn’t rise to any new heights of civility during the debt-ceiling debacle, in which he felt free to question the patriotism of his opponents, and his Vice-President referred to voters who disagreed with him as “terrorists.”

Too many Americans excuse failure on the grounds of presumed good intentions.  Too many presumptions of good will are extended to the leftist politics that have brought us to the edge of ruin.  It’s nice that the people who saddled us with Barack Obama are starting to wake up and smell the coffee, two and a half years too late.  Let’s see if they can still smell that coffee a year from now.