'All the Time in the World'

I’m sure Richard Fernandez doesn’t want to press the connection too closely, but he has a fascinating post cross-cutting (to keep up the cinematic references from the last post) between the Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway, and Obama’s Magical Misery Bus Tour. And nice Louis Armstrong-John Barry-George Lazenby homage in the title, to boot:

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On the second day of his Midwestern tour aboard a multimillion dollar armored bus, President Obama called on Congress to ‘get in the game’, that is support his spending package. “There are bipartisan ideas — common-sense ideas — that have traditionally been supported by Democrats and Republicans that will put more money in your pockets, that will put our people to work, that will allow us to deal with the legacy of debt that hangs over our economy.”  The game metaphor invoked the element of time and ironically laid out the President’s greatest challenge. He’s running out of time. The window of Hope and Change is being rapidly closed by a host of changing conditions, and the President is blaming “bad luck”.

But over the last six months, we’ve had a run of bad luck, some things that we could not control. We had an Arab Spring that promises democracy and potentially a growth of human rights throughout the Middle East, but it also caused high gas prices that put a crimp on a lot of families just as they were trying to dig themselves out from the recession. Then we had a tsunami in Japan that disrupted supply chains and affected markets all around the world. And then in Europe, there are all kinds of challenges around the sovereign debt there, and that has made businesses hesitant and some of the effects of Europe have lapped onto our shores. And all those things have been headwinds for our economy.

Nagumo blamed bad luck too. Yet Obama’s “run of bad luck” may be no more due to the vagaries of fickle fortune than the Ki’do Butai’s ordeal on the 4th of June. The run of “bad luck” may be due primarily to long-term trends which will have limited the viability of the Hope and Change strategy.

Is it possible to build a future of higher taxes, greater entitlements, and more multilateralism any more than Yamamoto could hope to beat an economy 8 times the size of Japan’s? Can the world imagined in the 1960s ever be constructed on the world as it now is? Or is the President condemned to desperately hold on to whatever “good luck” gave him at the outset; to cling to ‘progressive gains’ he has achieved against the trend of history? It all depends on what the real trends are, doesn’t it?  That is our blank slate upon which trends are projected. And we will know the truth soon enough.

The President own remarks suggested the reality of a closing window of opportunity. He almost sounds like Nagumo, possessed of the best-spin doctors in the world, the most powerful media practitioners who ever lived and yet not the time, not the opportunity to use them to effect.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty frustrated about that. (Applause.) I am pretty frustrated about that because, given the challenges we face, we don’t have time to play games. There are a lot of folks, a lot of our neighbors, a lot of our friends who’ve been out of work too long. We’ve got too many small businesses that are struggling. I see a lot of young people in the audience here today, and they’re thinking about what are their prospects for the future — graduating from college knowing they’ve got a lot of debt, needing to find a job. They don’t have patience for the kind of shenanigans we’ve been seeing on Capitol Hill. They understand that now is the time for all of us to pull together and do what it takes to grow the economy and put people back to work. (Applause.)

Why are people like Bachmann, Palin, Ryan — and even Ron Paul for pete’s sake — not giving him his shot at Destiny? But it is not altogether impertinent to ask why the President’s window is tending to close; why the necessary time to spot his airstrike on the bitter clingers is so elusive. If the President’s program were running with the tides of history, it would not be running out of time. The opportunities for ‘fundamentally transforming the United States of America’ would be easier and not harder to come by.

So he gets on the bus and the wheels go round and round.

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Which brings us to Michael Walsh’s latest article in the New York Post:

Does nobody in the White House realize how poorly this act is playing?

Hitting three Midwest communities in two sleek, specially outfitted, Canadian-made million-dollar campaign buses, the president came off like a visiting Marie Antoinette, out among the besieged peasantry for a few days to preach his newfound religion of jobs.

Then Obama got caught in a spirited discussion — one that could only diminish him — with a truculent private citizen, Ryan Rhodes, who confronted him in an Iowa rope line to ask whether veep Joe Biden had called Tea Partiers “terrorists.”

Why think it will help to promise yet another speech on the economy — when Obama has already been a constant, hectoring presence on the airwaves for the past month, demanding more spending and higher taxes on the “rich”?

Same for the the transparently political, utterly preposterous notion of a new Cabinet-level Department of Jobs to solve the nation’s employment woes: Just what the country needs, another expensive, useless and quickly metastasizing bureaucratic monstrosity.

With 16 months — at least — left in the Obama presidency, the law of diminishing returns has kicked in hard. The president’s approval rating stands at 39 percent in one major poll, and even the Congressional Black Caucus is starting to bail on him. “We’re supportive of the president, but we’re getting tired,” Rep. Maxine Waters told a Detroit audience Tuesday.

Obama’s slide may be good political news for conservatives, but it’s extremely bad for the country.

Realistically, the economy won’t materially improve over the next year or so, no matter how many bus rides Obama takes. Unemployment will likely remain well over 8 percent, and the debt-ceiling deal will do little or nothing to solve our economic woes. It’s going to take the next election before we can begin to start repairing the damage.

After nearly three years, we’ve seen everything this president has to offer: His cure-all is always more public spending (so what if we can’t afford it?), plus punitive taxes for some.

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The “independent” Website Politico.com turned out to be pretty deeply in the tank for Obama in 2008, considering how many of its writers were on the JournoList, acting as self-described a “non-official campaign” to elect Obama. Today MJ Lee of the Politico finds out what her fellow journalists have wrought:

At Wednesday’s town hall in Atkinson, Ill., a local farmer who said he grows corn and soybeans expressed his concerns to President Barack Obama about “more rules and regulations” — including those concerning dust, noise and water runoff — that he heard would negatively affect his business.

The president, on day three of his Midwest bus tour, replied: “If you hear something is happening, but it hasn’t happened, don’t always believe what you hear.”

When the room broke into soft laughter, the president added, “No — and I’m serious about that.”

Saying that “folks in Washington” like to get “all ginned up” about things that aren’t necessarily happening (“Look what’s comin’ down the pipe!”), Obama’s advice was simple: “Contact USDA.”

“Talk to them directly. Find out what it is that you’re concerned about,” Obama told the man. “My suspicion is, a lot of times, they’re going to be able to answer your questions and it will turn out that some of your fears are unfounded.”

Call Uncle Sam. Sensible advice, but perhaps the president has forgotten just how difficult it can be for ordinary citizens to get answers from the government.

When this POLITICO reporter decided to take the president’s advice and call the USDA for an answer to the Atkinson town hall attendee’s question, I found myself in a bureaucratic equivalent of hot potato — getting bounced from the feds to Illinois state agriculture officials to the state farm bureau.

Here’s a rundown of what happened when I started by calling the USDA’s general hotline to inquire about information related to the effects of noise and dust pollution rules on Illinois farmers:

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Welcome to the real world, which any small businessman — and these days, numerous CEOs– can tell you about. Heck these days, any kid who wants to open a lemonade stand or a California hardware store that wants to give free coffee to its customers can tell you about.

Or to put Lee’s discovery into graphic form:

What happens next? Jennifer Rubin writes:

Ah, there’s a speech coming up in September. The chasm between the president’s agenda (and leadership skills) and the problems we face seems to widen with each passing day. The problem is not the Martha’s Vineyard vacation but the two and a half years that preceded it. The policy initiatives and the president himself seem too small for the challenges we face. He resorts to political stunts to fill the time and directs blame to Congress, the Republicans or whatever else he can think of. As our problems deepen and expand, Obama’s stature shrinks. You wonder what will be left of him by November 2012.

At Ricochet today, after namedropping my favorite blogger, Rob Long is brutal:

So, if you’re keeping score: Farmers, 1; President Obama, 0.  When a sitting president of any party can’t figure out how to connect meaningfully to a farmer at a rural town hall event, it’s over.

Message:  I’m losing.

The headline that the Chicago Tribune on Jonah Goldberg’s syndicated column is even more direct.

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