President Obama’s re-election effort is in full swing, but you wouldn’t know it by the Administration’s recent pronouncements. On issue after issue, even when the Administration is on the losing end, it insists that it is winning, like Charlie Sheen during his infamous meltdown. Except unlike Charlie Sheen, who received a huge payout after his escapades and is working on his next hit show, this Administration is sowing the seeds of its failure and dragging the nation down with it.
The Administration’s determined effort to call defeat victory and failure progress is not merely the typical agitprop peddled by an Administration mired in failure, though the recently released campaign biopic narrated by Tom Hanks, “The Road We’ve Traveled,” has plenty. Rather, the administration’s modus operandi evidences a studied and reckless indifference to the real world effects of its policies.
On energy, in the face of rising gas prices, President Obama continues to oppose domestic drilling while taking credit for some increased drilling on state and private land, which he had nothing to do with. He continues to push for solar ventures and other distractions, like algae, even after the Solyndra debacle forever branded his Administration’s energy vision a pipedream. And most galling, he continues to reject the Keystone pipeline, even as Senate Democrats line up to cast votes in its favor and union allies, knowing the jobs its construction will create, plead for its approval.
On the economy, the Administration takes credit for “lower” unemployment numbers, officially reported at 8.3 %, even after its $790 billion stimulus failed to deliver the promised 8% rate. Yet unemployment stood at 7.8 % at his Inauguration, and the true unemployment rate is closer to 30 % when you include, as you should, those able to work but not looking for work. What is more, the President has amassed more debt in three years ($4.9 trillion) than President Bush did in eight ($4.8 trillion), and he has made no effort to lower the 35% corporate tax rate, which will soon be the highest corporate tax rate in the world.
On entitlements, the President continues to propose budgets that avoid the tough choices necessary to confront the nation’s looming budget bombs, Medicare and Social Security, which will consume 20% of GDP by 2035. If criticism is leadership, the President is surely leading in criticizing Paul Ryan’s reform plan. But regardless of the merits of Ryan’s plan, and there are many, Rep. Ryan deserves credit for starting an overdue conversation with a serious opening argument. The same cannot be said for the President.
On defense, the President takes credit for ending the Iraq war while seeking to gut the military that made both victory and withdrawal possible, hastens our retreat from Afghanistan, and infers to Russia his intent to gut our missile defense in his second term. All the while, Iran works feverishly to build a bomb, the Syrian regime continues its reign of terror, Egypt turns towards Islamism, and Israel readies its attack on Iran.
And on Obamacare, the price tag of which has doubled in two years, the Administration has grown so desperate that it insists that Democrats will be strengthened and Republicans endangered this fall if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare. As a legal issue, the irony would be too rich to escape: the Court striking down as unconstitutional a law championed by a supposed expert in constitutional law. As a matter of politics, this theme of winning by losing evidences a desperation born of discouragement.
The President‘s policies are unpopular, unsuccessful, and worthy of the derision they’ve received. As a result, the political winds auger fundamental change, most likely in the person of Mitt Romney, who is racking up key endorsements (Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, George H.W. Bush) and looking like the eventual GOP nominee. His mission, should he choose to accept it, will be to articulate a vision of America’s renewal based on reality, not hype. President Obama, the master of meaningless rhetoric, has said he is willing to be a one-term president. We can only hope.
After four years of spin, false promises to be “post-partisan,” and policy justifications bordering on outright lies (e.g., If you like your healthcare you can keep it), Americans are hungry for leadership that offers honesty, inspiration and optimism grounded in reality and humility. If Mr. Romney can find the right mix of those ingredients, come November, he may be the one who’s truly “winning.”