As Gov. Bobby Jindal began to offer a Republican response, it became apparent that he would be no match with Barack Obama in the soaring-oratory department. The Republicans really should have tried a gimmick instead. Perhaps Jindal could have simply walked on and said, "Today, the president held what he called a fiscal responsibility summit." He could afford a wide smile at that point, knowing his audience had erupted in laughter.
Honestly, now: Are we quite ready finally to declare the Era of Obama As Fiscally Conservative is over? Last year, Republicans warned that Barack Obama was ultraliberal -- a socialist, in fact -- but the media handlers typically presented this as a conservative smear. Instead, they painted Obama as an aspiring moderate-Republican deficit reducer. Take New York Times economics writer David Leonhardt last August: "Obama's aides optimistically insist he will reduce it [the deficit], thanks to his tax increases on the affluent and his plan to wind down the Iraq war. Relative to McCain, whose promised spending cuts are extremely vague, Obama does indeed look like a fiscal conservative."
How ridiculous does that sound now? John McCain probably would have been a moderate Republican president. But the idea that President Obama would turn out to be a stronger fiscal conservative than McCain should inspire a pink-faced laughing fit at the preposterousness of The New York Times.
Now that Obama's emphatic ultraliberalism is the elephant in the room, and liberals are cheering the reversal of everything Ronald Reagan tried to accomplish economically, the media still don't want to call it liberal. Instead, it's a pollster's list of positive adjectives: bold, ambitious, audacious and even breathtaking.
Here's how Charles Babington of the Associated Press began his analysis: "Breathtaking in its scope and ambition, President Barack Obama's agenda for the economy, health care and energy now goes to a Congress unaccustomed to resolving knotty issues and buffeted by powerful interests that oppose parts of his plan." Obama is the giant with breathtaking ambition, while members of Congress are mere mortals unaccustomed to accomplishment. Obama's agenda is not described as liberal. Instead, it's a plan "to undo major elements of Ronald Reagan's conservative movement."
His AP colleague Liz Sidoti echoed the meaningless chatter: "Barack Obama is embracing the worst economic conditions in a generation as an opportunity to advance an audacious agenda that, if successful, could reshape the country for decades to come."