Ed Driscoll

The Killer Rabbit Licks His Chops

“Obama defaults to economic blame game,” Neil Munro writes at the Daily Caller:

A cascade of bad economic and political news knocked President Barack Obama off his game today, and prompted him to revive his 2008-style criticism of his predecessor, and also to suggest that investors, consumers and even the media are responsible for today’s stalled economy.

It’s a Jimmy Carter-style malaise, in other words. As J. R. Dunn noted in August of last year, after Obama’s cringe-inducing support of Ground Zero Mosque,“There comes a moment in a failing presidency where the incumbent, through some single gesture, action, or statement, crosses a certain line from beyond which there is no return:”

Such moments are obvious in retrospect, though not always at the time. With Richard Nixon, it was the “eighteen-minute gap.” An oval office tape recording turned over to Judge John Sirica, who was overseeing the investigation of the Watergate incident, turned out to have a lengthy period of silence smack-dab in the middle of a conversation between Nixon and chief of staff H.R. Haldeman. The White House claimed that Rose Mary Woods, the president’s secretary, had inadvertently hit the wrong button for those eighteen minutes. This might well have been true, but in light of Nixon’s long reputation as Tricky Dick, it sounded like the cock-and-bull story to end them all. Nixon had been holding his own in the Watergate battle up to that point. The voting public viewed the uproar with bemusement rather than indignation. But the tape gap finished him. In less than a year, he was forced into resignation.

For Jimmy Carter, it was the “malaise speech” of July 15, 1979, in which he attempted to shuffle the blame for his tepid performance as president from his own administration onto the shoulders of the American people. Carter claimed that a national “crisis of confidence” (he never actually used the word “malaise”) made it impossible for him to adequately grapple with the country’s problems. It was America’s fault, not Jimmy Carter’s. The public reaction was open disgust and the abject collapse of any support for the Carter presidency.

With Obama, we have an abundance of riches: the multiple vacations, the legal harassment of the state of Arizona on behalf of illegals, the clownish response to the Gulf oil blowout. But when historians come to select the moment when Obama went over the edge of the world, I think they’ll find the great Iftar mosque speech of August 13, 2010 hard to beat.

Through his own will and behavior, he so underlines his failings, so frames his negative image, that no further action can ever erase it. Fate, accident, and circumstance have nothing to do with it. It is the president himself who puts the period at the end of his own sentence.

And as Victor Davis Hanson writes, “President Obama remains haunted by the specter of President Bush:”

In other words, much as Jimmy Carter took the hard times of 1975–76 and turned them into the mess of high interest, high inflation, high unemployment, and high gas prices — while blaming the American people for their malaise — so too Barack Obama has made almost everything worse and is getting angrier at other people and events (the European meltdown, the Japanese tsunami, the Middle Eastern unrest) in the process.The administration’s massive borrowing, new regulations, promised higher taxes, opposition to new oil leases and pipelines, takeovers (from GM and Chrysler to health care), and rhetorical assault on the successful in private enterprise have turned a bottoming-out recession into a near-permanent slump. Those with capital do not want to invest in new workers or equipment because they believe the president does not like them, in the sense that he will raise taxes to take away their hard-won profits, or will impose some sort of new regulation — like Obamacare or prohibitions against opening factories in right-to-work states — to make profits impossible. The result is that they have been for two years largely sitting out this “recovery,” as the economic witch-doctors — Peter Orszag, Christina Romer, Larry Summers — come and go.

Meanwhile, Obama serially faults the Bush policies of 2008, not his own of 2009–11 — something that becomes ever more difficult as the Bush administration’s average unemployment rate, GDP growth, deficits, and gas prices now seem not all that bad. And to the degree that economists fault Bush for the financial meltdown of 2008, they have cited his excessive federal spending, government intrusion into the housing market, and chronic budget deficits — just those areas where Obama has trumped Bush and turned his misdemeanors into felonies.

And then there’s this to look forward to, Dunn warned last year:

The past two years are the best Obama will ever see. The real crises of his presidency are still to come, and they are easily visible as they move toward us — Iran, terrorism, the economy, the collapse of the national health care system hastened by his own policies.

Wait, what’s that last item that Dunn mentioned?