September 14, 2011Oopsy, spelled the title wrong, lol
Two articles that sum it up well.
Perhaps strangest of all, there is now a collective Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Been there, done thatĂ˘â‚¬Âť any time Barack Obama walks up to the podium to give yet another teleprompted speech. The speeches still are well delivered; he still has a way with the mannerisms and cadences. But even his critics pray for his sake that he does not come out with yet another embarrassing Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Let me be perfectly clear,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Make no mistake about it,Ă˘â‚¬Âť or Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“LetĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s be honestĂ˘â‚¬Âť Ă˘â‚¬â€ť as he goes back to bashing either the tired Bush bogeyman or yet another strawman Satanic reactionary who, if not for Barack Obama, supposedly would expose children to mercury, neglect roads and bridges, and finally dissolve government altogether. We have all heard ad nauseam that an eight-month-old Republican-controlled Congress has stopped ObamaĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s legislative agenda for three years.
In truth, Obama is out of arrows. His quiver is bare, because he came into office as a rhetorical president without much experience or any ideas other than growing even bigger a tired big government. And now the public realizes that both the speeches and the big spending do not work. The result is that we collectively know what the president cannot any longer say Ă˘â‚¬â€ť and it proves far greater than what he can say. He is well past the point of Jerry FordĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s WIN buttons or Jimmy CarterĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s fist-pounding malaise speech.
Obama cannot jawbone interest rates down Ă˘â‚¬â€ť they are already at near-zero on passbook accounts. Obama cannot ask the EPA to shut down any more powerhouses or the NLRB to try to close any more new manufacturing plants. Obama cannot really ask for any more big borrowing programs Ă˘â‚¬â€ť not after running up $5 trillion in new debt and getting little economic activity in response. The bogus vocabulary of Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“stimulus,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“shovel-ready,Ă˘â‚¬Âť and Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“investmentsĂ˘â‚¬Âť provokes laughter; it does not ensure an unemployment rate no higher than 8 percent. He cannot, with a straight face, appeal to the collective wisdom of Geithner, Goolsbee, Orszag, Romer, and Summers Ă˘â‚¬â€ť or quote the predictable shrillness of Paul Krugman on the need for ever greater debt. Those academic arrows were long ago shot in vain. In truth, every classical Keynesian remedy has been tried, and we are left only with the hard work of trimming regulations, talking up business, producing more fossil fuels, and returning to budget discipline, thrift, greater productivity, and radical reform of the tax code and entitlements. What Obama might say on all that, his ideological training and shrinking base will not allow him to say Ă˘â‚¬â€ť as we saw from his shunning of his own Simpson-Bowles commission.
Obama cannot give one more speech on Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“civility.Ă˘â‚¬Âť He has done that for three years Ă˘â‚¬â€ť only to violate his own directives by urging voters to Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“punishĂ˘â‚¬Âť our Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“enemiesĂ˘â‚¬Âť and demonizing those who make over $200,000 as culpable Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“millionaires and billionaires,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“fat cats,Ă˘â‚¬Âť and owners of Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“corporate jets.Ă˘â‚¬Âť To oppose Obama is to be a Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“hostageĂ˘â‚¬Âť taker. The nation got ObamaĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s accustomed calls to cool the partisan invective while Jimmy Hoffa and Maxine Waters were slurring tea-party members as Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“son of a bitchesĂ˘â‚¬Âť and telling them to Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“go straight to HellĂ˘â‚¬Âť Ă˘â‚¬â€ť confident that Barack ObamaĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s collective morality does not apply to them. The result is that another appeal to Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“civilityĂ˘â‚¬Âť would now at best earn laughter.
He cannot promise a Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“summer of recovery,Ă˘â‚¬Âť not after chronic 9 percent unemployment, soaring food and fuel costs, a herky-jerky stock market, near-zero growth, record deficits and debt, and the downgrading of the nationĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s credit. Perhaps Obama could promise us relief of only a $1 trillion annual deficit, a return to 8 percent unemployment, $3-a-gallon gas, a steady GDP growth rate of 2 percent, holding the debt at $16 trillion, and opening a single new oil field.
Nor can Mr. Obama any longer call for Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“millions of green jobs.Ă˘â‚¬Âť Valerie Jarrett, ObamaĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s personnel adviser, cannot any longer purr out, Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Oooh. Van Jones, alright! So, Van Jones. . . . We were watching him for as long as heĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s been active out in Oakland.Ă˘â‚¬Âť Between that silliness and today, there have been just too many hundreds of millions of dollars wasted in subsidizing Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“greenĂ˘â‚¬Âť sweetheart deals that ended in bankruptcies. More calls to buy government-produced Chevy Volts I donĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t think would work.
Obama cannot promise to close Guantanamo or try KSM in Manhattan. Nor can he even continue the demagogic attacks on the Bush-Cheney national-security protocols Ă˘â‚¬â€ť not when he embraced and expanded them all. In 2012 his commercials will highlight killing bin Laden in Pakistan, not closing Guantanamo or ending Predator-drone attacks. And yet, neither can ObamaĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s team speak any longer of Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“overseas contingency operationsĂ˘â‚¬Âť and Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“man-caused disasters.Ă˘â‚¬Âť He is between the rock and the hard place of both caricaturing and adopting the policies that work when they were alleged not to work Ă˘â‚¬â€ť so he is quiet on that count too.
His address to Congress last week went nowhere. It was hyped well. It was delivered well. It was comprehensive. But Obama had nothing to say that we have not already heard from him Ă˘â‚¬â€ť and that has not already failed or proved to be hypocritical.
When the quiver is empty, the archer puts his bow away. Silence, not Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“This is our moment,Ă˘â‚¬Âť is the wisest course for Barack Obama now that the arrows are all gone.
By Dana Milbank, Published: September 9
Updated 3:15 p.m., Sept. 12
President Obama gave one of the most impassioned speeches of his presidency when he addressed a joint session of Congress on Thursday night. Too bad so many in the audience thought it was a big, fat joke.
Dana Milbank writes a regular column on politics.
Ă˘â‚¬â€°A collection of cartoons on the federal budget and economy.
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Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“You should pass this jobs plan right away!Ă˘â‚¬Âť Obama exhorted. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) chuckled.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary Ă˘â‚¬â€ť an outrage he has asked us to fix,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Obama went on. Widespread laughter broke out on the GOP side of the aisle.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“This isnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t political grandstanding,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Obama said. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) guffawed.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“This isnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t class warfare,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Obama said. More hysterics on the right.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“WeĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve identified over 500 [regulatory] reforms, which will save billions of dollars,Ă˘â‚¬Âť the president claimed. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) giggled.
It was, in a way, more insulting than Joe WilsonĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“you lieĂ˘â‚¬Âť eruption during a previous presidential address to Congress. The lawmakers werenĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t particularly hostile toward the