While the media focuses almost exclusively on tax increases and blaming Republicans, the prospect of achieving real solutions to our economic problems and doing anything about government overspending has completely fallen off the radar. Equally underreported but vital to any analysis of what is possible is the apparent state of mind of the president in this current crisis, and his overall approach to his second term.
The president said three revealing things in his last two press conferences that say much about his state of mind. His own ego and arrogance are on vivid display, but no one is talking about it.
First, there appears to be no limit to the political posturing the president will allow when blaming Republicans. He actually used the Newtown, Conn., tragedy as a reason that Republicans should capitulate to his desire to pointlessly raise taxes.
Last Wednesday, the president said, “Right now what the country needs is for us to compromise, get a deficit-reduction deal in place, make sure middle-class taxes don't go up, make sure that we're laying the foundations for growth, give certainty to businesses large and small, not put ourselves through some sort of self-inflicted crisis every six months, allow ourselves time to focus on things like preventing the tragedy in Newtown from happening again.”
If the president will use the tragedy of Sandy Hook against his political opponents, then there is nothing he won't do or say.
Next, he allows himself to be personally flattered by the Republican opposition. The president thinks it is all about him, not about the economy and what Republicans see as a perilous time for our country and a ruinous course that has been set by our uncontrolled government spending. He thinks his way is the only right way and if you disagree, it is only because you are annoyed by his success. The president said, Republicans have “got to take me out of it and think about their voters and think about what's best for the country.” To the president, it is resentment of him that keeps others from doing what he says, not legitimate concerns about what his plans will do to the economy and America's future. Read his complete remarks from the Dec. 19 press conference for the full jaw-dropping dose of egomania.
And finally, the president displayed a cavalier, indifferent, condescending attitude about the Dec. 31 deadline to avoid the “fiscal cliff” and the consequences of inaction. Last Friday, he summed up his own sense of urgency by telling others more concerned than he that “everybody can drink some eggnog and have some Christmas cookies.” At a time when leadership is needed, that is the president's own revealing take on what should be done.
The president has no inhibitions about using tragedy and crisis to corner his political opponents. He personalizes any opposition to him and does not understand why people believe we should do something other than what he says. And at the end of the day, he doesn't seem to care much or want to apply any personal energy to solving our problems.
In a cynical world, all of the above gives the president a political and personal advantage.
In Washington, ideas matter — but so do attitude and commitment. The president is only committed to thinking about himself and seeing the world his way.