Last Feb. 24, with a grandiosity with which the nation has become wearily familiar, he said, "Already, we have done more to advance the cause of health care reform in the last 30 days than we have in the last decade." He was referring to the expansion of eligibility to an existing entitlement -- the State Children's Health Insurance Program. But that expansion was minor compared to the enormous new Medicare entitlement for prescription drugs created under Obama's predecessor. Before the Massachusetts nuisance, this year's speech was to be a self-coronation of the "last" president to deal with health care.
Last Feb. 24, he said he had an activist agenda because of the recession, "not because I believe in bigger government -- I don't." Ninety-seven days later, he bought General Motors.
Wednesday night's debut of Obama as avenging angel of populism featured one of those opaque phrases -- the "weight of our politics" -- that third-rate speechwriters slip past drowsy editors. Obama seems to regret the existence in Washington of ... everyone else. He seems to feel entitled to have his way without tiresome interventions in the political process by the many interests affected by his agenda for radical expansion of the regulatory state. Speaking of slow learners, liberals do not notice the connection between expansion of government and expansion of (often defensive) activities referred to under the rubric of "lobbying."
Lamenting Washington's "deficit of trust," Obama gave an example of the reason for it when he brassily declared: "We are prepared to freeze government spending for three years." This flagrant falsehood enlarges Washington's deficit of truth: He proposes freezing some discretionary spending -- about one-eighth of government spending.
Obama's leitmotif is: Washington is disappointing, Washington is annoying, Washington is dysfunctional, Washington is corrupt, verily Washington is toxic -- yet Washington should conscript a substantially larger share of GDP, and Washington should exercise vast new controls over health care, energy, K-12 education, etc. Talk about a divided brain.