Jobs must be our No. 1 focus in 2010. — Barack Obama, January 27, 2010.
So much for all that.
After a year of crisscrossing the country hawking his health care boondoggle, President Obama in his State of the Union address graciously took note of a separate, minor problem — America’s continued mass unemployment.
Obama’s first year in office saw the economy bleed millions of jobs and bottom out at the lowest labor force participation rate in 25 years. The official unemployment rate for December was 10 percent, a scary but misleadingly sunny number which failed to take into account the millions of Americans forced into part-time work or those who left the job market altogether in frustration and disgust.
Naturally, such dismal statistics got fair media play as 2009 wound to a close. So the president paid lip service to the jobs situation when he addressed Congress in January, 2010, promising to buckle down and concentrate on getting Americans back to work in the coming year. A lot of Americans, a lot of jobless Americans, likely gave a sigh of relief and uttered a hearty “it’s about time.”
Unfortunately for them, what came instead was a renewed frenzy to pass nationalized health care, and a corresponding neglect of the still dismal unemployment situation. The last weeks have seen 1) the release at last of the president’s own health care plan, 2) a much ballyhooed but still farcical health care summit, and 3) yet another public presidential plea (yawn) for the necessity of national health care. And now Obama is reportedly gearing up for yet another health care tour as his allies in Congress prepare to make their final push to pass this misbegotten legislation by Easter.
Meanwhile, millions of Americans continue to fill the unemployment lines or take menial work in order to have something on their resume besides a year-long gap of eating Cheetos and playing Guitar Hero. One can only conclude that Obama does not care whether you have a job or not, so long as he can force government health care down your throat.
And it’s not just the unemployed that Obama seems cool towards. American soldiers are now engaged in some of the fiercest fighting of the Afghanistan war, and sixty six have perished in that theater in the first months of 2010 alone. But you would never know it from Obama, who last gave a major speech on the Afghan war on December 1. As commander-in-chief, he seems oddly and disturbingly detached from the struggles of our sons and daughters in Mesopotamia and Asia.
And then there is our nation’s increasingly desperate fiscal situation. Record high levels of deficit and debt are sucking capital out of the economy, depressing the dollar, and threatening our ability to meet our global military commitments and domestic obligations. Obama’s solution, to the extent that he has one, is to add yet another trillion dollar entitlement to the federal books. That’s like fighting a fire with buckets of gasoline. Any firefighter who even suggested such an insane strategy would (no pun intended) be fired; sadly, our chief executive has job security until at least 2012.
Some would suggest that this all adds up to an astounding dereliction of duty, fed by megalomania and fealty to long discredited and dangerous ideologies. The more cynical may even see deliberate neglect, as Americans in desperate financial situations may be more likely to acquiesce to an engorged and gorging government. After all, in a nation where employment is often tied to health insurance, a jobless man is a man at least open to a government alternative.
I cannot bring myself to believe that any president would manipulate the economy in such a manner for his own political purposes. But I do know this: while Obama continues to fiddle his atonal health care tune, the flames of war and recession and fiscal collapse rage all around him.
Does he care? Does he even understand the precipice upon which we stand?
In even the best of times, history would judge Obama harshly for pushing such radical change without broad public and bipartisan support. That he dares ignore both the people’s wishes (that he abandon his health care fetish) and their most dire need (jobs) will assure him history’s most severe reprobation. To his hard-left liberal contingent, he may one day seem a noble failure.
To everyone else, there will be no such magnanimous modifier.