Ed Driscoll

The Billy Beer Comes Home to Roost

Well, now we have the answer to Gene Marshall’s dopey mid-seventies anti-classic song: Can our government be competent? Barack Obama says no.

But as the Professor writes in his Sunday column, “When Jimmy Carter Is your best-case scenario, you’re in trouble:”

At the moment, Obama is involved in three wars, and in two of them he is losing. (The third, ironically, is the war he ran against, in Iraq, where things seem to be going comparatively well).

Afghanistan appears to have turned into (at best) a stalemate, with drone attacks of the sort Obama the candidate criticized being our chief weapon. Libya, a war that Obama started at the behest of the “lady hawks” in his Cabinet (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and Special Assistant Samantha Power), has been a half-hearted, run-by-committee affair that has mostly served as a reminder that NATO can’t do very much without the United States firmly in charge.

In Egypt, where Obama supported the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak (a reliable, if unappetizing, U.S. client) by a different bunch of reformers, polls now show the United States is disliked by three-quarters, while a similar number look favorably on the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.

In Syria, where there is a popular revolt against a genuine U.S. enemy, the Obama administration has been conspicuous by its absence. Apparently, Syria’s reformers don’t pass the test.

Then, of course, there is the economy. Carter had big government, but Obama has brought us monstrous government, running up bigger deficits in the first half of his first term than Bush did in eight years and increasing the national debt by more than 50 percent.

The stimulus, which was touted as a way of keeping unemployment below 8 percent, couldn’t even keep it out of double digits, and even now 8 percent looks pretty good by comparison with what we’ve got.

But while all that spending didn’t stabilize unemployment as promised, it did destabilize America’s credit rating. As bad as things were under Carter, the United States wasn’t at risk of a credit downgrade, as it is now.

Plus, inflation is beginning to ramp up, as gas and grocery prices skyrocket. Some worry that the inflation rates of the Carter era will look mild by comparison with what’s coming down the pike.

And that’s the lesson: Up to now, comparisons with Carter were a tool of Obama’s critics. From now on, they’re likely to be a tool of his defenders. Because as bad as Carter was, Obama is shaping up to be worse. Much worse.

The next year and a half is likely to be a brutal, bruising affair for the country. And what happens after that?

Well, it’s up to the American people to decide next year which America they want to hand to their children. Because, as the Wall Street Journal noted on Friday, “The results of our three-year economic experiment are in.” Or to put into graphic terms that put a whole new spin on “Not Safe For Work:”

Related: Speaking of malaise-inducing Carter flashbacks, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jack Kelly writes, “Gas prices keep rising. Meanwhile, Obama says: ‘Let them buy smaller cars:'”

Gas prices have doubled since Barack Obama became president. With wages stagnant, unemployment high and food prices rising at the fastest rate since the 1970s, this imposes real hardship on many Americans.

It also means our moribund economy is likely to fall back into recession. When the real price of oil doubles within a year, GDP almost always declines, noted James Cooper in the Fiscal Times Monday.

Oil prices are rising because (a) the value of the dollar is declining, which makes everything we import more expensive; (b) the Middle East, where most of the world’s oil is produced, is in turmoil; and (c) because the Obama administration has sharply restricted oil drilling at home. Gasoline prices could be cut in half within a few years if those restrictions were lifted, according to Rep. Joe Barton, R-Tex, a former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The price of gas is a dollar a gallon higher now than it was at this time a year ago. Most of the rise has come since Mr. Obama imposed a partial ban on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The last oil price spike ended on July 14, 2008, which, noted Will Collier, “was the very same day then President George W. Bush lifted, by executive order, a federal ban on offshore drilling.”

Somehow how they didn’t stay down in the following years, though. Funny how magical thinking never seems to quite work.