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Ed Driscoll

Failure is Definitely an Option

August 9th, 2010 - 3:25 pm

“‘Recovery Summer’ vs. ‘Mission Accomplished’: Will MSM Immortalize Obama’s Laughable Proclamations?” is the (likely rhetorical) question asked by Lachlan Markay at Newsbusters, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary in the Blogosphere:

“Welcome to the recovery” is certainly no less deserving – more so, in fact – of the iconic status afforded “Mission Accomplished” and the media’s disdain. Short, catchy, and lacking any real basis in reality, the phrase perfectly captures the Obama administration’s fingers-in-the-ears attitude towards their own economic policies.

Three days after Geithner made his “welcome to the recovery” proclamation in the op-ed pages of the New York Times, the economy shed 131,000 jobs. The administration and its left-wing media cheerleaders touted the 71,000 private sector jobs created, not mentioning of course that about double that number would need to materialize for the economy to keep pace with new entrants in the job market.

Ed Morrissey explains the numbers in more detail:

This isn’t a Recovery Summer. It’s a slow slide, certainly better than the rapid disintegration of 2009, but we haven’t replaced those jobs yet, either. Job losses are cumulative. In a normal recovery with proper economic policies of lower barriers to investor entry, we would see a rapid replacement of jobs in this time frame that would take us back to somewhere around 80% of what was lost, with the remaining 20% being the most difficult to recover. We have not yet even begun that ascent. I’ll update this with a couple of slides later this morning to demonstrate the problem.

Expect the White House to hail the best private-sector job creation numbers since March, but economists won’t get fooled. We’re still descending, and will until we get job creation solidly above 100,000 new additions per month.

That Geithner’s “welcome to the recovery” statement was “dramatically premature” seems an understatement. Is Tim Geithner stuck in Never Never Land?

The Treasury Secretary’s declaration of the non-recovery recovery came in the middle of what the White House has formally dubbed its “Recovery Summer” campaign. The effort aims to promote “the surge in Recovery Act infrastructure projects that will be underway across the country in the coming months – and the jobs they’ll create well into the fall and through the end of the year,” according to a release.

“Summer 2010 is actually poised to be the most active Recovery Act season yet,” the White House claimed in June. Total job losses during “Recovery Summer” have totaled 352,000 so far. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, has declined slightly, indicating that thousands of Americans have given up on their searches for jobs.

Meanwhile, only a fifth of Americans believe the economy is improving, while three quarters believe the stimulus either had no effect on the economy, or has actually made things worse.

In short, the “Recovery Summer” label is a joke, even given the modest (and that’s putting it generously) private-sector job creation so far this year. But will the media treat it with the disdain they did Bush’s “Mission Accomplished”? Will they call out Geithner for welcoming Americans to a non-existent recovery?

If the economy doesn’t start gaining some steam, media neutrality will truly be put to the test.

Oh, I’d say the MSM flunked that test by November of 2008.

Speaking of which, in February of this year, CNN baked a cake in honor of the “Stimulus” program and symbolically presented it on air. (No bias there!) But as the Washington Examiner notes for all but the president’s most rabid supporters at CNN and the rest of the legacy media, it’s now “Time to admit Obamanomics has failed:”

Predictably, the stimulus bill has proven to be an extraordinary waste of borrowed money that has failed to create jobs, generate economic growth or do much of anything other than line the pockets of White House political allies. That and give $308 million in subsidies to BP before the Gulf oil spill disaster, and subsidize a study on what happens when monkeys snort coke.

As Romer fades back to her teaching post at Berkeley, Obama is adding to the economic misery by creating an environment of regulatory uncertainty. The Wall Street reform law Obama recently signed potentially requires 533 new regulations, 60 studies and 93 reports, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency has 29 active rulemakings, and there are 100 new rules on the Labor Department’s agenda and 26 at the Transportation Department.

Add Obama’s determination to raise everybody’s taxes by allowing the Bush cuts from 2001 and 2003 to expire Jan. 1, 2011, and it’s easy to why banks, businesses and consumers are hoarding trillions of dollars that could otherwise spur economic growth. And we haven’t even addressed the destructive effect on economic growth of Obama’s nationalization of major portions of the economy, including the banks, health care and the auto industry.

The economy is stalling, unemployment seems stuck at European levels of idleness, the federal deficit and the national debt are at historic highs, public confidence in Congress is at its lowest-ever level and big majorities of Mainstream Americans say Obama has the country on the wrong path. Obamanomics has failed miserably and it’s time for everybody in this town to admit it so we can move on.

As I wrote in February, the MSM has two templates when covering Democratic presidents: “Camelot And Gridlock.” After declaring that Obama is God! from the beginning of 2008 through much of 2009, one tacit admission from the legacy media of the administration’s failures is a return to that old standby topic, “Can Washington Be Fixed?” as an upcoming Vanity Fair article asks. After quoting from VF, Commentary’s Peter Wehner takes a look at “The Increasingly Self-Pitying Obama White House:”

What we are seeing, I think, is a group of supremely arrogant people humbled by events. They are turning out to be a good deal more incompetent than they (and many Americans) ever imagined. They see impending political doom in the form of the midterm elections. Yet this is not leading them toward any apparent serious self-reflection; rather, they are engaging in an extraordinary degree of whining, finger-pointing, and self-indulgence.

It was said of President Kennedy that he was a happy president. “Happiness, [Kennedy] often said, paraphrasing Aristotle, is the full use of one’s faculties along lines of excellence, and to him the Presidency offered the ideal opportunity to pursue excellence,” Theodore Sorenson wrote in Kennedy. “He liked the job, he thrived on its pressures.”

One doesn’t get that sense with Obama or his key advisers. In 18 months they appear to have developed deep grievances and an increasing unhappiness and frustration with the duties of governing.

Life in the White House is challenging; anyone who has worked there can testify to that. And Washington, D.C., is certainly an imperfect city, as all are. But the impression Team Obama is trying to create — that no group has ever faced more challenges, more difficulties, or more hardships — is silly and somewhat pathetic. Politics is the worthiest ambition, wrote John Buchan (the author of JFK’s favorite book, Pilgrim’s Way); it is the greatest and most honorable adventure.

If Obama and his aides don’t see that or anything like that — if they view politics and governing only through a lens tinted by bitterness, frustration, and resentment — then it is time for them to step aside. If not, then they should man up. Self-pity is a terribly unattractive quality.

So is blaming both the voters and your predecessor. So what happens next? As Victor Davis Hanson recently noted, the epistemic closure of the administration’s worldview will make it difficult for them to tack back to the center post-November:

The public is waiting for an articulate conservative reformer who will quietly keep promises to balance the budget more through spending cuts than taxes, close the border to illegal immigration, either win or get out of long wars abroad, respect federal law and apply it equally, and restore a sense of American confidence and American exceptionalism.

The odd thing is that the entire country senses how Obama could restore his ratings to over 50 percent in the same way Clinton did in 1995. He would simply call in Republicans to work out a deal to balance the budget, quit his two-year “Bush did it” whine, stop suing the states, reassure business that there will be no more tax hikes, praise the private sector for its ingenuity and competence, stop trying to appeal to his base through race and ethnicity, and get engaged on Afghanistan.

As VDH wrote, “Because there is no chance that Obama will or can do that, we are witnessing another Greek tragedy as our chief executive slowly implodes.”

(Cartoon by the great Michael Ramirez of Investor’s Business Daily.)

Related: The man with the permanent campaign “accuses GOP of 20 mos. of ‘politicking’ … while politicking for 20 mos.”

And as for the flip-side of what happens after November, that’s a topic explored by Michael Barone.

Related: Against them before he was for them: “Obama overtures to business fall flat,” AP reports.

Wonder why?

Update: Betsy Newmark seeks closure: “When can we declare the liberals’ economic experiment finished?

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