President Obama spoke for 66 minutes at Knox College the other day, trying one more time to change the subject and “pivot to the economy.” As he has many times before, both in campaign speeches and other talks, the president promised to expand the middle class, create jobs, and reduce inequality. The reviews were not generally favorable. Even for Obama sycophants, of whom there are many in the press, the president’s message seemed repetitive and uninteresting, as if he were reading, which, of course, he was.
That same day, Obama spoke at another university in Missouri, where college Republicans with tickets to the event were excluded as a “security risk.” With public opinion on the president’s job performance sinking, the White House has no interest in visuals that might reflect anything less than enthusiastic (and unanimous) approval from young people.
Obama’s recent talks have referred to what he calls “phony scandals,” which are allegedly distracting Congress from its real work — to pass the president’s agenda. Jay Carney, the president’s press secretary and loyal hack, had introduced this language before Obama repeated it. A few months ago, the president argued that the IRS’s targeting of tea party groups and the Justice Department’s tracking of reporters were serious issues that needed to be investigated. Now that the IRS scandal is getting perilously close to the White House (was the IRS targeting a directive from Obama, rather than the agency making policy after following the gist of Obama’s political speeches?), a pivot away from “phony scandals” may have seemed necessary, even with the mainstream press having largely dropped the scandal stories in favor of the race baiting that has taken over since the George Zimmerman verdict. One writer angered by the “phony scandal” language put it this way:
“Phony”? What’s phony about the fact that the IRS targeted citizens based on their ideology? That the discussion of this targeting went all the way up to the president’s hand-picked IRS chief counsel William Wilkins? That Wilkins met with Obama in April 2012 just two days before “new guidance” on how to handle Tea Party applications was sent from Washington to IRS operatives? …
“Phony”? What’s phony about the family members of a Fox News reporter being spied on by the Department of Justice? About Attorney General Eric Holder lying about his knowledge of “potential prosecution” of the media by his department?
And then there’s Benghazi. Almost a year later, we still don’t know where the president was when the terrorist attack started, whether the military was ordered to leave Glen Doherty to die, or why the White House continued to push the phony story of a video weeks after it knew it was a terror attack and not a movie protest.
The president’s declining approval numbers are not the only worrisome numbers for the White House. Support for Obamacare, the president’s signature legislative “achievement” of his first term, is sinking to its lowest level yet, just months before implementation of the individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion are scheduled to occur. The delay in the implementation of the employer mandate seemed like an unspoken acknowledgement by the administration that the requirement may have slowed job growth for several years and accelerated the shift from full-time work to part-time employment (under 30 hours per week).
Every month, it seems, the president convenes a meeting of liberal bloggers to give them their new marching orders on how to sell that “all is well” with Obamacare and we just need to give it a little more time before everyone recognizes its greatness. Writers like Jon Cohn and Ezra Klein have been shilling so long and so hard for Obamacare that they are at least as invested in its success as the president is. Whenever there appears to be an ounce of “good” news on the premiums in the exchanges in certain states, it is heralded as an achievement on a par with the Red Sea parting.