President Obama’s appearance last night on “60 Minutes” confirms how severely out of touch he is with political reality. He has become entirely predictable, and his insincerity is unrestrained.
There is the phony familiarity, a strained attempt to bond with working-class voters he’s lost. We therefore have an epidemic of missing “g’s”: He tells Steve Kroft: “Look, the — everybody’s at — concerned about inequality. Those folks in there, who were listenin’ to the speech, those are teachers and small-business people, and probably some small-town bankers, who are in there thinking to themselves, ‘How is it that I, we’re workin’ so hard,’ and meanwhile, they know that corporate profits are at a record level, that a lot of folks are doin’ very well. What’s happened to the bargain? What’s happened to the American deal that says, you know, we are focused on building a strong middle class?” I am ready to bet the farm he didn’t talk that way at Harvard.
We passed self-aggrandizement a year or so ago and now have a fabulist in chief. “You know, we did all the right things to prevent a Great Depression and to get the economy growing again and to get job creation going again.” (Everything was right. No mistakes. No misspent money or missed opportunities.) Really, were we heading toward 25 percent unemployment when he arrived? Was it he or President George W. Bush (and the hated TARP) that stabilized the financial sector? Oh no, he’s the heroic figure in this tale, and he’s got his list to prove it:
Not only saving this country from a Great Depression. Not only saving the auto industry. But putting in place a system in which we’re gonna start lowering health care costs and you’re never gonna go bankrupt because you get sick or somebody in your family gets sick. Makin’ sure that we have reformed the financial system, so we never again have taxpayer-funded bailouts and the system is more stable and secure.
This is daft. Health-care costs are going up, and there is no sign Obamacare can or will bend the cost curve down. President Bush, for better or worse, undertook the auto bailout process. Dodd-Frank is going to make sure we never, ever have to rescue another company from failing? This is fiction, fantasy, actually.
More non-facts: “Steve, the math is the math. You can’t lower rates and raise revenue, unless you’re getting revenue from someplace else. Now, either it’s comin’ from middle class families or poor families or it’s comin’ from folks like you and me that can afford to pay a little more.” Sen. Pat Toomey’s plan did get more revenue by closing loopholes and limiting deductions, the revenue from which was greater than that lost by lowering rates. Is he confused? Misinformed? Or just makin’ stuff up?
The refusal to accept responsibility is quite startling:
Kroft: You’re being judged now on your performance.
Obama: No, no, no. I’m being judged against the ideal. And, you know, Joe Biden has a good expression. He says — “Don’t judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative.”
I don’t recall a president who has ever been more desperate to shift blame and evade his own record.
There is the assertion that his opponents act out of bad faith: “Steve, here’s the thing. As long as unemployment rate is too high and people are feeling under the gun, day in, day out, ’cause their bills are goin’ up, and their wages and incomes aren’t. Or they’re out of a job. They’re gonna feel unsatisfied. I mean, there’s no secret to this. If I can’t get Republicans to move, partly because they’ve made a political, strategic decision that says, ‘Anything Obama’s for, we’re against, ‘cause that’s our best chance of winning an election.’ But, keep in mind, I’m talking about Republican members of Congress. I’m not talking about Republicans around the country.”
But didn’t the GOP plead with him to work on tax and entitlement reform? Did he ever get behind his own bipartisan Simpson-Bowles debt commission? Did he lift a finger to lead the supercommittee? It’s 24/7 excuses and accusations now from him.
Apparent also is the nonstop deception (or self-deception) about well-known political facts. He claims “there’s not a general perception that the stimulus didn’t work.” Umm. Do they hide the polls and newspapers from him over there at the White House? ’Cause if he would be readin’ instead of makin’ excuses and tryin’ to snow us, he might be better off. Just sayin’.
His task, of course, is to convince Americans that he’s done so well on the economy that he deserves a second term. So he tells us, “ I didn’t overpromise. And I didn’t underestimate how tough this was gonna be. I always believed that this was a long-term project. That reversing a culture here in Washington, dominated by special interests, it was gonna take more than a year. It was gonna take more than two years. It was gonna take more than one term. Probably takes more than one president.” That might seem strange to those who remember him telling us unemployment wouldn’t get over 8 percent if the stimulus passed. It would be odd if you looked at his own fanciful figures on projected growth and all those “created and saved jobs.” It almost makes you forget the “recovery summer.”
Candidly, it’s a little freaky to have a president operating so far afield from reality. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last week joked that, like the base runner tagging second, a pol only has to be “in the neighborhood” of truth. Obama isn’t even in sight of it.
Certainly a minimally skilled opponent, you are thinking, should be able to point this out to voters in the 2012 election. Well, it’s safe to say that only by picking an untrustworthy, extreme and/or inept nominee could the Republicans blow the 2012 election. And they just might do it.
Come to think of it, the only other pol who comes to mind who so blatantly invents facts, restyles history, assumes opponents operate in bad faith, blames others and throws around red-hot rhetoric with abandon is Newt Gingrich. Perhaps Republicans will instead pick a nominee who can present a choice and not merely an echo of our failed president.