Obama’s Summer of Surrender

Posted: Sep 27, 2010 12:01 AM

Barack Obama has a credibility problem. Obama has overpromised and under-delivered on countless issues such as the economy, job creation, healthcare reform and transparency. And, after 19 months of teleprompted platitudes, Obama has surrendered all credibility regarding the economy and Americans are skeptical of his latest promises.

For many Americans this has been the summer of discovery, not recovery. The rosy glow from electing the first African American president has faded and the failures and the flaws of Obama’s economic policies and Obama’s economic team have been exposed.

Americans are painfully aware that the 3.5 million jobs that Obama promised have not been created. Americans are painfully aware that the 3.5 million jobs weren’t saved either. Americans have seen that the shovel ready projects weren’t very ready and that transparency is a lot easier to talk about than to achieve. But what is most likely apparent to all Americans is that Obama has made mistakes.

Any experienced CEO knows that mistakes happen, that oftentimes plans don’t materialize as anticipated, and a course correction is required to save the enterprise. But Obama does not seem to have learned this lesson. As recently as last week, the President is still stumping, still trying to convince Americans that his economic recovery policies are working.

What’s hard to figure out is why Obama persists in using la-la land language to describe the outcomes of his economic policies.

I find myself wondering: is it possible that Obama actually believes the tripe that’s printed on his teleprompter? Is it possible that Obama hasn’t read any of the Bureau of Labor Statistic reports for the past 19 months, or the consumer price indices, or the CBO estimates, or the GDP indices, or the GAO reports or the Treasury department reports of the weekly sales of tens of billions of treasuries?

Or could his economic advisors have been assuring him that matters will improve? And he believed them?

Since July, most of the architects of the Obama Administration economic strategy for recovery have resigned. Consider: Peter Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Christina Romer, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, Larry Summers, Director of the National Economic Council and Herb Allison, the TARP Bailout Czar.

While some may try to sugar coat the reasons for their departures, preferring perhaps to believe that these departures are just the inevitable transition attrition at the two year point, or that the pressure, tensions, and the clash of strong personalities caused an unending jockeying for power among various members of the President’s economic team, these seem to be secondary reasons. The painful reality is that despite their top-tier academic credentials, the economic policy team didn’t live up to expectations and their economic policies didn’t work.

We’ve come a long way since December 2008 when Obama named his “dream team” of economic advisors, claiming to have selected “leaders who could offer both sound judgment and fresh thinking, both a depth of experience and a wealth of bold, new ideas”.

Instead, what Americans have seen is failed leadership at all levels of the Obama Administration’s economic policy team and a lack of innovation. The team may have had its internal squabbles, but they were united in their flawed beliefs that more government intervention, subsidies and control would be the cure to all economic ills. They were wrong and the country has suffered as a result.

So, what message are they now sending to our nation, facing the most severe, turbulent economic crisis in its history, when the team the president entrusted with charting the ship of state to calmer waters, jumps ship? No matter how the White House may try to sugar coat it, one can’t help thinking the president’s economic advisors are cutting their losses and hope to escape before being exposed.

There is a delusional quality to the ideology and the language used by the Administration. When Larry Summers coined the phrase “Summer of Recovery”, was he trying to ‘spin” the failed policies? Was he simply crafting a sound byte to give Dems cover while campaigning at home? Or was he delusional since he had access to all the data indicating the contrary?

There comes a point—and we seem to have reached that point—where the Obama Administration’s statements simply aren’t credible and our president, who reads them off the teleprompter each day, isn’t credible either. The president can continue to capture prime time TV to address Americans, but until he admits that his policies aren’t working, and some changes are going to have to be made, Obama will not be credible and will not be trusted by many Americans.

The departure of almost all of the leadership of Obama’s economic team provides the perfect opportunity for the president to do a course correction. As the Chinese say: it’s never too late to turn back on the wrong road.