23 February 2011

Change we can believe in, part 112

President Obama seems hellbent on convincing me to vote for "generic Republican" in 2012.

Despite a Republican opposition whose leadership has done little but obstruct for two years, Obama continues to remind Americans why John McCain was the correct choice in 2008.

Most recently, Obama's astounding entrance into the Wisconsin standoff between public employees and Republican Gov. Scott Walker demonstrates three things about him.

First, the president can't help but engage in small-bore firefights that have typically been beneath his predecessors. This strange obsession has manifested itself in the White House's battles with Fox News and Politico, and the president's awful commentary on Harvard Professor Gates, which culminated in the offensively juvenile "Beer Summit." There are some fights the president simply should stay out of -- and a budget battle in a state deep in the red is one.

Second, his reflexive, unfettered support for unions demonstrates that, as Chris Matthews pointed out a few months ago, Obama acts like he's still the liberal Democratic senator from Illinois, not the President of the United States. The same tired liberal streak that led him to introduce union-backed killer amendments to the McCain-Kennedy immigration compromise in the Senate continues to reappear in spades in the White House, no matter what the facts might be. Wisconsin is facing a staggering budget shortfall, and its state employees enjoy some of the most generous benefit packages in the nation. Gov. Walker was popularly elected to cut spending and fix Wisconsin's budgetary issues. He is not a dictator. He was given a mandate, and he is carrying it out.

Third, and most critically, it demonstrates that Obama has absolutely no conception of the seriousness of our country's fiscal problems. He passed a trillion dollar "economic stimulus" bill that was little more than a Christmas tree for liberal interest groups, defrayed most spending until the following calendar year and was laughably ineffectual. He put together a blue-ribbon deficit-reduction commission, and when its proposals received broad bipartisan support, he completely ignored them. He just proposed a budget that would run a deficit of more than $1.5 trillion. That's trillion, with a "T". When Republicans began to discuss entitlement reform, he engaged in rank demagoguery. He has managed to govern with an even worse fiscal agenda than that of George W. Bush, who was arguably the most fiscally disastrous president in history.

A crisis is sweeping the country. Not just Wisconsin, but Florida. California. New York. New Jersey. And yes, Obama's home state of Illinois. Governments everywhere have made lavish promises to their employees, and the bill is coming due. The same is true at the federal level with respect to Social Security, which will not be solvent by 2042. Period. This is not in dispute. And instead of seriously -- and nobly -- considering the Simpson-Bowles framework, which was floated months ago, Obama pretends that there isn't a crisis at all. These issues will bring the federal and state governments to their knees. It's already happening, right under our noses. And the president either doesn't care or is too fundamentally stupid to realize it.

Inexperienced, weak and gutless. Barack Obama is all three.

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