The utter incompetence which characterizes President Obama is nothing short of alarming. Embarrassingly so. This startling ineptness would be amusing if this were happening elsewhere and we were just spectators watching a show. But we’re not, and the consequences for America are dire. For a long time I just assumed the disastrous policies emanating from Obama were due to the fact that he’s a left-wing ideologue. Though that’s certainly true, it’s insufficient to explain the sheer idiocy flowing from this Administration. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Obama is nothing short of the most incompetent leader this country has ever had. When I watched his presser today, I saw a guy who has no idea what he’s even saying — let alone what he’s doing.
A few days ago his Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, said failure to go deeper in debt would be "catastrophic". Today Obama himself warned that failure to raise the debt ceiling would result in economic "Armageddon". Wow, that sounds really bad. How bad? Well, according to Obama just a few minutes later, not bad enough to do anything about it like, for example, agree to a deal to raise the debt ceiling by reigning in the out-of-control government spending responsible for this mess. Indeed, per Obama, "we don’t have to do anything radical to solve the problem".
Try as I might, I can’t square "catastrophic and "Armageddon" with "we don’t have to do anything radical to solve the problem". I guess in reality what Obama really finds radical is the threat that he can no longer waste trillions of dollars in borrowed or printed money on useless government spending designed to do nothing other than buy him votes for 2012. That, in Obama’s world, is real Armageddon. Governor Palin had no trouble calling out Obama for his BS today via Twitter:
Obama lies, economy dies. He says "default’s catastrophic" then opposes deal to avert it. Nonsense. Gold stars to GOP trying to deal w/this.
But that wasn’t the only whopper Obama told today. Using some strange new mathematical construct with which I’m unacquainted, Obama claimed he has 80% public approval for his plan to avoid the necessary structural changes to our nation’s unsustainable entitlement programs by slamming the moribund economy with a huge tax increase. Back in the real world, yesterday’s Rasmussen poll indicated public support for Obama’s tax increase proposals at 34%, with 55% opposed to any tax increase in the debt ceiling deal. I guess the smartest man ever to occupy the oval office is LD math. He is, after all, the guy who proclaimed in February that the accumulated interest on the debt doesn’t actually add to the debt. Or maybe in his mind 34% rounds to 80%?
Perhaps the most surreal part of the presser came when Obama, as he’s hilariously tried to do for several weeks now, attempted to play the "responsible adult" in the room. I laughed out loud when I heard our President let loose with this goofy statement:
"These are obligations that the United States has taken on in the past, that Congress has run up the credit card, and we now have an obligation to pay our bills. If we do not, it could have a whole set of adverse consequences. We could end up with a situation, for example, where interest rates rise for everybody all throughout the country, effectively a tax increase on everybody, because suddenly, whether you’re using your credit card, you’re trying to get a loan for a car, or a student loan, businesses that are trying to make payroll…"
It’s difficult to even know where to begin. He’s avers that we must raise the debt ceiling to avoid higher interest rates because higher interest rates are "effectively a tax increase" which, presumably, would be bad for the economy. And yet at the same time he’s advocating for the passage of…an enormous tax increase. Get it?
Obama also admonishes Congress for "running up the credit card" or something. When Obama was inaugurated, the national debt stood at $10.626 trillion. Today, as we all know, we’re at our legal debt ceiling of $14.3 trillion. In other words, he has run up another $3.674 trillion in new debt in just two and a half years. Funny I don’t recall Obama vetoing a single spending bill during that time. And what benefits did we reap from all this deficit spending? Millions more unemployed, skyrocketing food prices, and $4 per gallon gasoline, to name but three. During practically this entire time, he and his party were in total control of Washington with overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress. Now he wants us to believe that he’s suddenly worried about fiscal responsibility, and that our debt situation would be fantastic if only Congress hadn’t "run up the credit card". Just an innocent bystander, he. Right. In a piece yesterday, Charles Krauthammer takes him to task for this silliness:
All of a sudden he’s a born-again budget balancer prepared to bravely take on his own party by making deep cuts in entitlements. Really? Name one. He’s been saying forever that he’s prepared to discuss, engage, converse about entitlement cuts. But never once has he publicly proposed a single structural change to any entitlement.
Anonymous talk is cheap. Leaks are designed to manipulate. Offers are floated and disappear.
Say it, Mr. President. Give us one single structural change in entitlements. In public.
To underscore this, Obama’s non-answer to a question by Jake Tapper at today’s presser confirmed Krauthammer’s point.
Tapper: In the interest of transparency, leadership and offering – also showing the American people that you have been negotiating in good faith, can you tell us one structural reform that you are willing to make to one of these entitlement programs that would have a major impact on the deficit? Would you be willing to raise the retirement age? Would you be willing to means test Social Security or Medicare?
Obama: We’ve said that we are willing to look at all those approaches. I’ve laid out some criteria in terms of what would be acceptable…
Obama goes on and on and on with the hot gas flowing freely, but if you’re looking for anything specific that in any way answers the actual question posed by Tapper, you won’t find it. There’s plenty of what he won’t do, but nothing specific about what he would do (what Tapper asked) unless you consider Obama’s reference to some vague "criteria" of what he may or may not deem acceptable under some unspecified future circumstances to be an answer. It isn’t. Tapper politely waits for Obama to finish his non-answer then tries to pin him down one more time with a simple question:
Tapper: And the retirement age?
Obama: You know, I’m not going to get into specifics…
Of course not. But my experience in trying to decipher Obama’s answers to questions tells me he answered "no". In Obamaspeak, if his answer to a "yes or no question" is more than one word, he means no. If Obama can’t even commit to the simple and necessary structural change of raising the retirement age, with life expectancy a full 16 years longer now than when Social Security began, there’s little reason to believe Obama will ever cut any government spending (other than defense at a time we’re in three
wars kinetic military actions). The Republicans, at least some of them, are finally coming to the realization that Obama has no plans to address America’s rapidly deteriorating fiscal health. Indeed, as John Boehner observed, Obama has no plan at all. His only goal is to be given a shiny new $2.5 trillion credit card so he can buy his way to re-election, consequences be damned.
Listening to him today, I honestly believe that the President isn’t even aware that there’s a debt problem. Certainly not one sufficiently important for Obama to interupt his perpetual campaign and propose an actual plan to address it, his warnings of Armageddon and catastrophe to the contrary. He’s blissfully unaware that the sugar-daddy has run out of sugar, as Governor Palin so aptly put it. If not for the debt ceiling, Obama would continue trillion dollar plus deficits ad infinitum. He said in today’s press conference that we’re not Greece. Well, not yet. But if Obama has his way, we will be. And sooner than you think. The salient question for me is the one I struggled with at the beginning: Is the disaster that is the Obama Presidency due to ideology or incompetence…or both?
Update: Wesley Pruden at the Washington Times has a brilliant take on Obama’s performance:
Every mom who has ever been at her wit’s end recognizes Barack Obama. The president who earlier nagged Congress that it was time for Americans to “eat our peas” finally threw his own peas to the floor and banged his spoon on his supper dish. Such a tantrum in a high chair is a familiar sight in a lot of kitchens.
“Enough is enough,” the president cried, frustrated by the tense budget talks at the White House. “Don’t call my bluff,” he told his Republican tormentors. “I’m going to the American people.”
If a pout and a sulk is familiar to Mom, every 2-year-old in town can understand the president’s angry frustration. Throwing your peas on the floor, particularly if they’re of the English variety, tasting of copy paper and sliding down a tiny throat like unlubricated ball bearings, is the instant gratification every tantrum-thrower yearns for. But it’s a presidential strategy we haven’t seen before.