President Obama's various remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO business summit in Honolulu over the weekend show he is simply incapable of growing in office. In just a few short statements, we saw many of the familiar practices through which he has alienated such a large percentage of the American people and damaged the economy.
Away from his teleprompter, he treated us to further insults of Americans, his unfriendly attitude toward business and the private sector, his narcissism, and his refusal to accept responsibility for his own actions.
In his Monday evening press conference from APEC, Obama showed that he can't shake his narcissistic impulses. One would think that with all that has been written about Obama's "me, myself and I" fixation, he would at least try to pretend to be other-directed on occasion, to show he has the capacity to think of his position as something larger than himself.
In his opening remarks, he didn't say that "we" or "Americans" want other nations to buy American-made goods, but "I want them to," and so "I've been doing everything I can to make sure" we stay competitive. He didn't say, "The United States was honored to host APEC this year," but "I've been proud to host APEC this year."
When NBC's Chuck Todd asked him to clarify his "hot mic" conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in which they both insulted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he refused to comment, which means he refused to deny, much less apologize for offending the leader of our staunch ally, Israel, when he told Sarkozy, "You're fed up with (Netanyahu), but I have to deal with him even more than you do."
Two days earlier -- on Saturday -- Obama had modified his comment in September that Americans had "gotten a little soft" in competing in international markets. At APEC, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney asked him to consider the Chinese perspective and their concern about impediments to investment in the United States. How, wondered McNerney, would he address their dissatisfaction over these obstacles?
Rather than addressing the question directly, Obama deflected any responsibility for the situation and said, "We've been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We've kind of taken for granted - well, people will want to come here and we aren't out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America."
I happen to believe that comment is absurd on its face, as even my small hometown in Missouri has made great efforts to bring foreign businesses into the community, sometimes successfully. Other communities throughout the United States daily engage in a competitive effort to attract businesses into their cities and states, and for the president to characterize them as "lazy," demonstrates he is as out of touch with Americans as he is disdainful toward them.
He might consider responding to the question next time, which involved impediments to doing business that often put American companies and communities at a competitive disadvantage in attracting foreign businesses. Doesn't Obama owe us all an answer to that question?
But to answer would require Obama to account for his own deplorable economic record and his hostility toward business, the private sector and the free market. A fair, reasonable response would have included his acknowledgment of how much damage his policies have caused to the American business climate, instead of an indictment of every American besides himself.
With his accelerating mounds of regulations, his imposition of Obamacare, his increased taxes, his incessant spending and the resulting jobs-challenged economy, why would foreign companies be any more excited about the Obama business climate than American businesses are?
Obama's aptly titled "Regulatory Czar," Cass Sunstein, protests, "the annual cost of regulations has not increased during the Obama administration." But the Heritage Foundation has called Sunstein out on that, just releasing a study showing that the administration is churning out regulations at a significantly faster pace than previous administrations. Obama recently announced reforms to eliminate burdensome, obsolete rules, but they were more hype than substance. Our regulatory costs are continuing to increase with no end in sight.
While little austerity was practiced in the regulatory area during the George W. Bush era, Obama has easily outpaced his predecessor. Through the end of March 2011, Obama had piled on $40 billion in new costs to the economy, more than doubling Bush's additions. In fiscal year 2010, Obama added $26.5 billion in costs, making it the record year for increased regulatory costs.
With Obama at the helm, in economic terms, among others, we've got the worst of all possible worlds: a rigid commitment to policies that harm rather than help, and personality traits that prevent him from admitting, learning from and correcting his mistakes. We'll just have to wait a little longer.