Obama's Punk Presidency Kicks into High Gear
I’ve caught some heat since election night when I made my first reference to the person whom I expected would turn out to be our first punk president.
As I noted in a related February column, there was plenty of pre-election justification for concern that the most powerful elected office in the world was about to be occupied by, at the very minimum, a “a young, inexperienced person” who lacks major elements of maturity one would expect in someone about to take on such a serious responsibility. Normally, these traits would be acquired in one’s life as a result of running a business, working in the private sector, serving in the military, or occasionally through wide-ranging experience in political office. Barack Obama brought in none of these four attributes.
Evidence abounded during the campaign that trouble was brewing. There was the “subtle” bird-flipping of opponents -- twice. There were allusions to inflicting violence on rivals. There was gaffe after gaffe after gaffe, dutifully minimized by the lapdog media establishment. There were false narratives, ranging from self-aggrandizement to whitewashing family history to (despite a big set of ears and his thin-skinned sensitivity about them) completely implausible denials about having heard objectively racist, America-hating rhetoric from a pastor of almost 20 years. The tissue-thin resume, in combination with even a small sample of the items just described, should have been enough to disturb any objective observer concerned that we were about to elect the lightest of lightweights. And we did.
Obama’s ignorance and inexperience have been quite evident since Inauguration Day -- in fact, even on Inauguration Day. The gaffes have continued, from his “joke” about the Special Olympics to his (and his wife’s) Gerald Ford imitations to his “where have you been?” misstatements relating to basic culture and history. His advisers must cringe at the thought of any future teleprompter accidents.
Not that his advisers are particularly bright either; or maybe they’re fiendishly clever. Consider the garble they inserted into the beginning of the president’s primarily H1N1-related speech on Tuesday:
Before I say a few words about the meeting we just had I’d like to mention some good news that came out today about our economy. For the first time in 18 months, our manufacturing sector has expanded, and the statistics used to measure manufacturing output is the highest it’s been in over two years.
The statistic involved is the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index. ISM’s statistic did increase to a two-year high of 52.9% in August, and it was the first time in 19 months that the reading topped 50%, the minimum indicator of expansion. It was also the index’s highest reading since June 2007.
The manufacturing index measures whether or not overall economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded or contracted in the previous month, and to a degree how widespread the expansion or contraction was. It is a widely respected and very useful statistic based on data gathered from corporate purchasing and supply executives who are on the ground and in a position to know what’s really happening. But the index does not measure “output.” All one can really say after Tuesday’s result is that after 18 months of contraction, manufacturing started to get up off the floor. By far the worst index readings during the contraction streak came during what I have since July 2008 been calling the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy, which is now the POR recession (radio talker Mark Levin prefers to call it a “repression”) as normal people define it.
Obama’s “clever” wording (possibly deliberately so) likely gave many listeners and viewers the impression that manufacturing is in its best shape in two years. That is obviously not even close to being the case. As to the potential for a sustained rebound, Jeff Pope noted in a recent PJM column that the POR economy’s architects and their party don’t have the slightest appreciation for what manufacturing concerns need in order to have a decent chance at long-term success.
It would be bad enough if the punk behavior of Obama and his administration was limited to immature errors of fact and judgment. But with this administration and its leader, the dictionary’s alternative definition of “punk” (“a young ruffian; hoodlum”) has been operative for quite a while.
Michael Barone, who may have been the first to describe the Obama administration as a “gangster government,” recognized it early on. In May, after seeing what the Obama administration was in the midst of doing to Chrysler’s first-lien, secured creditors, Barone wrote the following:
The Chrysler negotiations will not be the last occasion for this administration to engage in bailout favoritism and crony capitalism. There’s a May 31 deadline to come up with a settlement for General Motors. …
We have just seen an episode of gangster government. It is likely to be part of a continuing series.
Sadly, that is exactly what has followed. Obama’s car czars also ran roughshod over the contractual rights in bankruptcy of GM’s unsecured bondholders to the direct benefit of the United Auto Workers union’s VEBA. More recently, the administration-favored health care bill as voted out of committee by the House has a $10 billion (at least) promise to shore up the benefit plans of predominantly unionized employers.
Elsewhere, the Obama administration is funding oil drilling off the coast of Brazil while doing everything it can to stifle domestic exploration and drilling. It browbeats corporate executives for taking bonuses it and Congress previously allowed, while bonuses to government employees proceed merrily along. It seemingly treats anyone who would disturb its budding empire as an enemy and not merely an opponent. Its closely tied affiliate Organizing for America sends thugs and astroturfers to town hall meetings to crowd out others, intimidate dissenters, and worse.
It’s clear that our punk president and his gangster government are bent on deciding, on their own and in as many areas as possible, who gets rewarded and who gets punished. Whatever you want to call it, this behavior is not characteristic of a representative government.
What is required to combat this group of thugs is an army of Eliot Nesses. Though that army may be forming in the nascent tea party movement, it will have to be about a lot more than periodic demonstrations. Gangsters play for keeps.