This is at least the eighth time that Obama has pivoted back to the economy — supposedly his top priority since 2008. Obama attempted this four times in 2011, twice in 2012 and in February. NBC News’ Chuck Todd dubbed Obama’s latest effort a “Deja Pivot.”
Press previews of Obama’s appearance predicted that he would have little new to offer. Obama spent 66 minutes and some 7,750 words to live down to those low expectations. Beyond being eerily familiar and painfully hollow, Obama’s rhetoric also was oddly detached from reality.
Obama, for example, resorted to class-warfare rhetoric. He just can’t help himself. He decried “the forces that battered the middle class for so long” and predictably complained that “nearly all the income gains of the past 10 years have continued to flow to the top 1 percent.”
“We changed a tax code too skewed in favor of the wealthiest at the expense of working families,” Obama said. “We asked those at the top to pay a little bit more.” Yes, just a minor request — backed by the full police power of the IRS and federal prosecutors, for those who fail to cooperate when “asked.”
Obama, once again, genuflected before the altar of “clean” energy. “We invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil,” he said. “We doubled wind and solar power.” Such green “investments” have flowed quite red — both for the 19 taxpayer-funded companies in the Heritage Foundation’s Green Energy Graveyard and for the bald eagles, golden eagles, mosquito-eating bats, and other birds being chopped to pieces by federally subsidized windmills.
Obama bragged that “we’re well on our way to fully implementing the Affordable Care Act.” Planet Earth to POTUS: Do you recall delaying the employer mandate for one year?
Despite massive, probably insurmountable delays in launching health care exchanges in 34 states by the end of this quarter, Obama Pollyannishly claimed that “starting on Oct. 1, private plans will actually compete for your business, and you’ll be able to comparison-shop online.”
Obama complained, “We’ve got folks who’ve insisted on leaving in place a meat cleaver called the sequester that’s cost jobs.” While Obama stubbornly blames Republicans for the sequester, this “meat cleaver” was his idea all along, as notorious right-wing ideologue Bob Woodward demonstrated Feb. 22 in the tea party-controlled Washington Post.
Finally, Obama slammed Republicans for an “endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals.” Yet Obama himself claimed to be “outraged” by the IRS’ persecution of tea party and conservative groups. Obama found the Justice Department’s inspection of The Associated Press’ and Fox News Channel’s telephone records so troublesome that he assigned Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate Attorney General Eric Holder’s role in the matter. And al-Qaida’s attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, might seem “phony” to Obama, but not likely to the survivors of the four American public servants murdered there Sept. 11, 2012.
Fifty-four months into his presidency, even Obama’s biggest supporters should detect what his detractors concluded years ago: This man displays virtually no interest in the hard work of leading the federal government. Cabinet meetings, negotiations with congressional leaders, and marching orders for the administration that bears his name all require discipline, focus and a single-mindedness that have escaped someone who never ran anything larger than his U.S. Senate office. Why should Obama govern when he can jet about and flap his gums until they ache?
The good news is that America need only withstand Obama for another three and a half years.
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.