David Ignatius: Ignoring the Tough Questions

Nine point two. That’s the unemployment rate. The White House told us it would be down around 7.2 by now, if only we’d pass the Stimulus.

One point nine. That’s our economic growth rate so far this year. The White House told us it would be 3.6%, increasing to 4.2% in 2012. Instead, we’re looking at an American “lost decade.”


40 weeks. That’s now the median length of time an unemployed person stays unemployed, the longest since the Great Depression.

One in seven. The fraction of Americans on food stamps. A postwar record.

Twenty percent. How much of Americans’ income comes from government transfer payments. Unprecedented.

I want you to keep these numbers in mind when David Ignatius assures you that what President Obama has is failure to communicate. Obama’s policies are just hunky dory.

Ignatius says Obama has “the right instincts” for cutting a budget deal, even though the President has yet to provide any actual budget numbers. His policy ideas “look pretty solid,” even though they’ve led to unprecedented spending, debt, unemployment and all the rest detailed above. The President has a “communications gap,” even though his three press conferences in the last two weeks have yet to move public sentiment on the debt ceiling, and two-plus years of selling ObamaCare has yet to make the law any less unpopular. Maybe the President should try communicating a little less. It seems the more he talks, the less people like him.

In foreign affairs, Ignatius says Obama “places equal emphasis on withdrawing troops and staying the course [in Afghanistan], which confuses people.” Well, that should confuse people — it’s a confused policy. The President’s Arab Spring approach is “a sensible mix of pragmatism and principle.” Perhaps. But Obama’s not-quite war with Libya is far from pragmatic, and he has yet to display much principle in Syria. In Egypt, both were abandoned. Rather, the President’s foreign policy appears to be an unintelligible mix of cynicism and naiveté.


In his day, Ronald Reagan was deemed little more than a “great communicator” whose speechmaking skills blessed him as “the Teflon President.” This, even as Reagan’s policies performed as promised. Obama now suffers a “communications gap,” even though his policies have resulted in economic disaster at home, and discombobulation abroad.

Now, David Ignatius is a smart guy. He’s been around Washington long enough to have seen all this before. So maybe he should worry less about Obama’s sales pitch, and spend a little more time sniffing at the merchandise.


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