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Works and Days

Obama—Making it up as we go along.

January 9th, 2011 - 2:40 pm

Being There

Gone is Bush the great Constitution-shredder. Tribunals, renditions, Predators, wiretaps, Iraq, Guantanamo, preventative detention—these are now either embraced or expanded. Iraq (“the surge is not working”) is Obama’s “greatest achievement.” The public I think believes Obama demagogued all those protocols for political advantage, then as commander-in-chief looked at the intelligence, and quietly adopted them all. OK, politicians do that. But how can one “virtually” oppose all that he embraces? Does he just make things up as he goes along, assuming we all have collective amnesia?

The Candidate

The same thing has happened to Keynesian economics that gave us near 10% unemployment and $3 trillion more in debt, taking a bottoming-out recession and turning it into near European-like stasis. Suddenly, the Bush tax rates are critical. There is talk of budget cutting. Red states, not blue states, are proper fiscal models—for liberals as well as for conservatives. Do we believe that a Gov. Paterson had more answers than a Gov. Christie? Government apparently cannot create jobs by printing money. Christina Romer, Larry Summers, and Peter Orszag are gone back to either academia or the big money on Wall Street. Was early 2009 all a dream? Is all this what we call “moving on”?

Elmer Gantry

Ditto what happened to Obama the healer. Was that too just a convenient façade that was to come and go—and come?

Are we no longer all purple state friends, but to be at each other’s throats—and quite literally? Thus the great healer Obama just warned of impending “hand-to-hand combat” if the Republicans take over. He once declared of Sean Hannity that one of his supporters would “tear him up.” He thought he was a Chicagoan Sean Connery in the The Untouchables boasting that “if they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” He advised Latinos “to punish” their Republican “enemies.” Not long ago candidate Obama pontificated that his supporters just had to confront Republicans and Independents and “get in their face.”  We remember his “whose ass to kick” or his relegation of Republican opponents to “hostage takers” and suicide bombers: “Here’s the problem: It’s almost like they’ve got—they’ve got a bomb strapped to them and they’ve got their hand on the trigger. You don’t want them to blow up.”

Obama clearly likes the tough guy imagery of metaphorically slicing, shooting and bombing: “We can’t have special interests sitting shotgun. We gotta have middle class families up in front. We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.” So are we back to the Valerie Jarrett, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Bill Daley Chicago style? What happened to our new president as Deepak Chopra?

Cyrus Vance redux?

I know Obama has a liberal agenda, but more recently he seems to have no agenda, as he flits about, trying this and trying that, in the manner of a forty-something academic who found out his faculty utopianism does not quite work outside the quad. Is Putin now “on our side” or snickering at our naïveté? Should we try a fifth threat to Iran to stop proliferation by a particular date or else? Are we bullying or not bullying or sort of semi-bullying Israel? Did that outreach to Syria and Venezuela bring dividends yet? Do national security bureaucrats really employ “overseas contingency operations” and “man-caused disasters”—do their foreign counterparts laugh when they receive such memos? Do our anti-terrorism experts really refer to Guantanamo thugs as “detainees” and forbid the use of “jihadist” in discussion of radical Islamic terrorism? Is that still operative?

“Energy Independence”

When gas hits $4 a gallon, will we still stop new offshore exploration, table oil and gas leases in the west for more Van Jones “wind and solar and millions of green jobs” and inflating our tires to avoid the need for new oil drilling rigs? Or is that too all inoperative? Suddenly will Obama claim he was always for nuclear, gas, oil, shale, coal—any and all energy to get gas and power prices back down to tolerable levels?

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