Paul Jacob

During Wednesday’s big speech, just as President Obama laid into Rep. Ryan’s Medicare reform proposal, Vice President Joe Biden skirmished with the Sandman. Zzzzz.

Obama wasn’t boring, though. He had a theme.

As he explained it, the Tea Party Republicans have a “pessimistic” vision, their dream of America being a nightmare to him. They look at the future and see (as the prez put it) an “America [that] can’t afford to keep the promise we’ve made for our seniors” or “invest in education or clean energy” or fix “our roads” or afford to do all the cool things done by South Korea, Brazil, and China.

Though the president explained, at length, how it came to pass that our government became disabled, he doesn’t exactly connect the dots. As he sees it, the problem of continuous deficit spending isn’t a spending problem, it’s a taxing problem. If only we had taxed more during the last decade. If only!

He mentioned previous unbalanced budgets — in the eighties, in the oughts — but he didn’t see any point in mentioning all the waste in those budgets: on goofy projects, overpayments, duplicated efforts. He mentioned our wars, but not how ineffective they’ve been, how never-ending they’re proving to be — including his own ongoing Libyan adventure that isn’t shaping up to be the delegated, drive-thru, fly-over war he’d promised.

Could today’s widespread public pessimism, the fear we cannot pay for every political promise made by generations of pandering politicians, have something to do with not only the eternal limitations of government, but also with the sheer vastness of idiocy in recent times?

The latest exhibit was Mr. Obama’s oration of love for America’s welfare state. To those on the right, who argue our president hates America, his speech refuted the charge entirely: Barack Obama loves this country, but only because of our welfare state. “I’ll go further,” Mr. Obama proclaimed, “we would not be a great country without those commitments” to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.