Obama: A Legend in His Own Mind

Posted: May 30, 2012 12:01 AM
Obama: A Legend in His Own Mind

WASHINGTON - Presidents are identified in the history books by their accomplishments, if they have any.

Abraham Lincoln is remembered for saving the union and ending slavery. Franklin D. Roosevelt crafted the New Deal in the Great Depression and led the nation in World War II.

Barack Obama is still writing the last chapters of his presidency, though there's a growing list of reasons why it may well be known in the end as the "Me Presidency" that is all about him.

Someone recently dug up a number of examples where the White House staff has been inserting Obama into the biographies of past presidents as part of the White House historical narrative. Among them:

While Calvin Coolidge was the first chief executive to give a public radio address, Obama is the first to be on LinkedIn. Really.

FDR presided over the enactment of Social Security, but Obama is presiding over its preservation. How about its deepening insolvency?

This is a president who has an exalted view of himself and he frequently reminds Americans of how truly great he sees himself. He's fond of the pronoun "I" when describing his exploits and isn't shy about comparing himself to our greatest presidents.

He told CBS's "60 Minutes", "I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president -- with the possible exceptions of [Lyndon] Johnson, FDR, and Lincoln -- just in terms of what we've gotten done in modern history."

But Obama really reached for the stars by comparing his empty record on tax reform to President Reagan's sweeping overhaul of the tax code in 1986.

"In a June 28, 1985 speech Reagan called for a fairer tax code, one where a multi-millionaire did not have a lower tax rate than his secretary. Today, President Obama is calling for the same with the Buffett Rule," the White House misstated for the record.

But as Rory Cooper of the Heritage Foundation writes in an excoriating piece he titles "President Me", this is "a complete fabrication" of what President Reagan said and did on taxes.

Obama tried to wrap himself in Reagan's mantle in a speech about his scheme to raise taxes on the rich, an idea he said he got from Reagan himself.

"Some years ago one of my predecessors traveled across the country pushing for the same concept... That wild-eyed, socialist, tax- hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan," Obama said on April 11.

But Reagan did no such thing. He came into office with a plan he signed into law that cut federal income tax rates across the board for every income bracket -- a policy that lifted the economy out of a steep recession.

In his second term, Reagan got rid of a number of tax exemptions, loopholes and corporate welfare, and lowered tax rates further -- cutting the top tax rate to 28 percent.

And he did it, by the way, with the help of Democrats in the House and Senate, including then-Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey and then-Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri.

In the fourth year of Obama's presidency, the economy is still weak (growing by about 2 percent), unemployment is high, and he's still trying to raise the top federal tax rate to nearly 40 percent.

Obama boasts about creating 122,000 jobs in March, but in September, 1983, a year after the Reagan recovery began, he created 1.1 million jobs in a single month. In the second year of the Reagan recovery, the economy grew by 6.8 percent.

The Washington Post's fact checker, Glenn Kessler, gave Obama two long nosed Pinocchios for dishonesty. "It is misleading for Obama to suggest Reagan was pushing for the same concept," Kessler said.

Obama was falsely labeling "the Buffet Rule the 'Reagan Rule' when the former president actually barnstormed the country to argue on behalf of a broad based tax cut that reduced taxes for the wealthy, the middle class and the poor while greatly simplifying the tax system," he said.

But such efforts to revise history have permeated the Obama presidency. In March 2009, the White House was caught "editing President Bush's biography to soften his listed accomplishments. They quickly reversed course," Cooper reminds us.

More recently, he reports, Obama's campaign team "released a Nixonian enemies list [April 20] of Republican donors on their Truth Team website."

"This wasn't about transparency, but intimidation. After each donor name, the Obama team highlighted why they felt the person was 'less than reputable.' These donors had been successful in businesses "that was counter to the president's worldview (i.e. oil production) or they made business decisions like outsourcing," Cooper said.

But if his high level team of advisers is relentless in its zeal to exaggerate the president's record, so is Obama.

Earlier this month, he told ABC News' Robin Roberts, "When I think about -- those soldiers or airmen or marines or -- sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf..." My behalf?

When asked recently on The View program why the American people are sharply divided over his presidency, Obama delivered this remarkable response that suggests it is not because of his policies but because of his name:

"When your name is Barack Obama, it's always going to be tight. Barack Hussein Obama."

The White House's latest effort at historical revisionism came last week when press secretary Jay Carney berated reporters for not realizing that the rate of spending under Obama was lower than any previous president since the 1950s.

In fact, spending has climbed from $2.98 trillion to $3.72 trillion under Obama's four year term -- rising from 20.3 percent of GDP in 2008 to 24.3 percent of GDP in 2012.

Kessler gave Carney three big Pinocchios on that one, saying he "should do a better job of checking his facts before accusing reporters of failing to do so."