All the President's On-the-Job Training

"We have a great sense this week again of the [Obama administration] making it up as they go along, as kind of government by teenagers," George Will said yesterday on the Fox News All-Star Panel, but actually, that's an insult to teenagers. All of us learn by age 17 that government is a non-functioning Leviathan mess, during our first visit to the local branch of the DMV, as Charles Krauthammer writes in his latest column. All of us, that is, except the president.

Krauthammer notes that at age 52, Mr. Obama has made a breakthrough discovery: “We have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly," he told Chris Matthews during his recent vanity interview with NBC. As Krauthammer responsd, that's a rather "interesting discovery to make after having consigned the vast universe of American medicine, one-sixth of the U.S. economy, to the tender mercies of the agency bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service."

Read the whole thing, which outlines the repeated examples of this curious admission from the president, uttered in various forms after each of his Keynesian-based crony socialist programs either explodes on the launching pad, or fails to achieve flight:

The paradox of this presidency is that this most passive bystander president is at the same time the most ideologically ambitious in decades. The sweep and scope of his health-care legislation alone are unprecedented. He’s spent billions of tax dollars attempting to create, by fiat and ex nihilo, a new green economy. His (failed) cap-and-trade bill would have given him regulatory control of the energy economy. He wants universal preschool and has just announced his unwavering commitment to slaying the dragon of economic inequality, which, like the poor, has always been with us.

Obama’s discovery that government bureaucracies don’t do things very well creates a breathtaking disconnect between his transformative ambitions and his detachment from the job itself. How does his Olympian vision coexist with the lassitude of his actual governance, a passivity that verges on absenteeism?

What bridges that gap is rhetoric. Barack Obama is a master rhetorician. It’s allowed him to move crowds, rise inexorably, and twice win the most glittering prize of all. Rhetoric has changed his reality. For Obama, it can change the country’s. Hope and change, after all, is a rhetorical device. Of the kind Obama has always imagined can move mountains.

That’s why his reaction to the Obamacare website’s crash-on-takeoff is so telling. His remedy? A cross-country campaign-style speaking tour. As if rhetoric could repeal that reality.

And speaking of the R-Word, "The Left's Reality Problem" is explored by Rich Lowry of National Review, in the otherwise-leftwing and usually unreality-based Politico:

The “reality-based community” isn’t what it used to be. Progressives spent much of the George W. Bush years deriding the right for disdaining reality itself and waging an associated “war on science,” such was its purported hostility to evidence. The meme arose from a high-handed blind quote from a Bush senior adviser to journalist Ron Suskind; the adviser said that people in the “reality-based community” underestimated how the United States could alter the state of things through the exercise of its power.

The left happily adopted the appellation “reality-based community.” (You can still find T-shirts and bumper stickers online.) It congratulated itself on its factual rigor and nominated for president a man whose initial appeal was based, in part, on his exquisite sense of nuance. Message: We’re more empirically grounded and intellectually supple than you.

The erstwhile reality-based community is having a tough time of it lately, though. Most infamously, Obamacare is foundering on the flagrant deceptions used to sell it, exposed every day by the workings of the law in reality.

Many liberals still don’t want to acknowledge the rather straightforward fact that if you mandate more insurance benefits in the so-called Affordable Care Act, insurance will cost more. QED. You might be able to cushion the cost increase for some people with subsidies, but not for everyone, and the underlying insurance is still more—not less—expensive.

One of the aspects that makes Obamacare unique is its destructive speed. It took decades for the notion that FDR's Social Security was an insolvent Ponzi scheme to reach fruition. LBJ passed his Great Society programs in the mid-'60s; it took about two decades before President Reagan could accurately point out, "In the sixties we waged a war on poverty, and poverty won." If you've never seen the 1958 film, A Night to Remember, you'll be amazed at how glacially (if you'll pardon the pun) the disaster unfolds. Initially, only a handful of crewmen are aware that the Titanic has scraped an iceberg. Then they fetch the captain. Who then calls for the ship's designer, who's also onboard, for confirmation. Compared to the modern disaster movie, it's an agonizingly long time before the ship is perched at a 45 degree angle and about to slide into the Atlantic. In contrast, Obamacare is like the bomb onboard the 707 in the first Airport movie, made a decade later: It's exploded with such a bang, everybody knows the plane will quickly auger into the ground unless drastic measures are taken by Dean Martin and the rest of the crew.