If someone asked me, “What was the most enchanting thing about the Obama press conference on Wednesday night?” I’d have to point to this nugget, which is also the most surprising and most troubling: President Obama was asked about the biggest surprise he’d faced.
Me, I’d say, “Who knew that somebody could take Air Force One out for a joyride without my permission or even my knowledge, and terrify thousands of people? Actually, I’m not sure I believe that myself, but I’m sticking to it as long as everybody else clams up.” Or maybe I’d say, “Who knew I’d be taking over the car industry and finding myself forced to stand up here talking about government-backed warranties and pitching people Chevy Malibus?” Or maybe I’d play dumb and say, “Who knew the CIA would take umbrage if I revealed the top-secret details of all the things they have to do to obtain priceless information from terrorists to save American lives?”
Yet Obama said his biggest surprise since arriving at the White House was the economic crisis. This was wrong. It happened last fall, before he took office. And it’s the primary reason he was elected. But it was uncommonly revealing when he said that when he began running for president (that would be in 2007), “Obviously I didn’t anticipate the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”
Show me all the speeches where he said lax financial regulation was causing banks to write too many sub-prime mortgages, which in turn would cause bank failures, a stock market crash, a recession, and a big increase in unemployment. Obama’s sole issue back then was Iraq. To the extent he talked about the economy at all, he talked a little about trade, hinting that he was for protectionism and against outsourcing while simultaneously sending out advisers to say that he actually didn’t mean any of this. Then Lehman Brothers collapsed.
Obama is like a shaman standing next to a house, warning that there’s a severe risk that an earthquake will destroy it. Instead, the house is suddenly hit by lightning. So he segues seamlessly into saying, “Obviously we need to make sure nobody’s house gets hit by lightning again. Haven’t I been warning you that this house was in danger?”