As we were warned, there was nothing approaching a new policy proposal. Instead, as he is accustomed to doing, Obama took himself out of the political equation, decrying that others’ politics were responsible for the lack of progress on the economy. He, you see, is above politics; it’s the other people who aren’t looking out for the country’s best interests. He commands that gridlock “must stop.” (He should be pleased that Senate Democrats just ended their revolt over his student loan proposal, another instance in which his fumbling wasted precious time.)
As usual, he chides “Washington” (where does he live?) for getting distracted (perhaps by gun control, sequester hysteria, etc.). He is never so comfortable as when he is campaigning against government, assuming the posture of a professorial bystander in his own administration.
He protests that scandals are “phony,” but polls show otherwise, especially when it comes to the Internal Revenue Service. And, of course, the scandals would end more quickly if he ever came clean, disgorged all the information at the beginning and stuck to one story.
The Obama routine gets tiresome after five years. It seems not to dawn on him that his opponents don’t think his policy recommendations (new taxes, Obamacare) are good for the country. And the country on many issues agrees with them. To protest the Obama agenda is to cause “gridlock” and “play politics,” in his view.
One can imagine that the trio of speeches is intended to do little more than pump up Obama’s troops in advance of the fall budget fights. This has been his approach to governance from the get-go — rile his supporters, denigrate opponents and then complain to the voters. Fatigue with five years of campaigning and shopworn policies is showing, even among his devoted followers, who were hard-pressed to say something nice about the speech. The only question is what he could possibly say in the next two outings that is any different from the hour-plus lecture he delivered on Wednesday.
There is an irony here. The president has assiduously worked to downplay foreign policy and extricate himself and the country from foreign crises, even at the risk of sacrificing our interests and diminishing his credibility. The answer given was that he had to pursue “nation building” at home. But in fact he’s accomplished precious little on the domestic front since jamming through his terribly unpopular health-care plan. Maybe he should go back to national security and see if he can leave some positive imprint there. Otherwise both his foreign and domestic policy slates will be barren.