Our apologies for the liberties we are taking with the old Virginia Reel square dance call in this week’s essay. Those of us who had to square dance in grade school remember the caller commanding us to do the dos-a-do which was a spin move in one direction and then another. That spin, however, doesn’t compare with the Obama Administration’s version of that dance move, in which the American people are told one thing, and then with dizzying speed, find out something else . . . the truth. Fortunately, most Americans are beginning to focus on the complete disconnect between the absurdity of the claims made by the Administration’s spinmeisters and the people’s own sense of reality.
The most breathtaking flight of fancy from Washington this past week was the full- court press by the President, Vice President, Chairperson of the White House Council of Economic Advisors and a whole host of Obama acolytes to proclaim that the Stimulus is working, that we’re “ahead of schedule” on job creation and that we’ve created (or saved) millions of jobs. The job saving claim is, in a strange way, irrefutable…sort of like a witch doctor saying if he hadn’t done his rain dance, the drought would have been worse. As Democratic Senator Max Baucus complained to the White House “you created a situation where you cannot be wrong. If 2,500,000 jobs are lost, you claim that without your stimulus program, 3,500,000 jobs would have been lost. Taken to its logical conclusion, if everyone except one person were laid off, the Administration could claim that without its stimulus program, that person would have lost his job.”
There is, of course, a reason for this disciplined chorus of downright silly spin. The Administration knew that data were about to be released from a variety of reliable sources revealing a further decline in manufacturing and retail activity, a further pull back in private sector hiring plans and industry investment plans, unemployment stubbornly stuck at just under ten percent and a further sinking of consumer confidence. What’s a “fella” to do with elections coming and millions of jobs lost? Dance the old dos-a-do and around you go, and claim the stimulus saved jobs.
This further sinking of consumer confidence is particularly significant and vexing to the Administration. Consumer confidence is a consequence of the consumers’ sensitivity to what they see, hear and feel all around them. It is reality. It can’t be manufactured, successfully manipulated (for very long), divined from the White House or spoon fed from a teleprompter.
The big problem the White House faces is its dogged determination to transform America into a left leaning, statist nation consistent with the President’s vision of what’s good for America, when Americans don’t want to be transformed into that vision. Americans understand the difference between needed reforming and radical transforming.
Dos-a-Do and Around You Go has been like an anthem within this White House. Remember the Obama healthcare reform bill that wasn’t going to add “one dime to the deficit” and the president’s mantra that he wouldn’t sign a bill that added one dime to the deficit “ now or in the future.” We now know, because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has told us, and, as the president surely knew when he made that promise, that his healthcare reform bill would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit.
And when George Stephanopoulos suggested that the fine for not purchasing insurance under the Obama healthcare plan was clearly a tax on the middle class, the President replied that it wasn’t a tax at all. This rather astounding presidential response quickly had Stephanopoulos reaching for the nearest dictionary (which, conveniently, was resting at his elbow). After reading aloud the definition of a tax, which fit the fine or penalty in Obamacare like a glove, the President, with a straight face, lectured that the fact that Stephanopoulos had to use the dictionary proved he (the president) was right all along. Dos-a-Do and Around You Go.
To add insult to injury, the Justice Department in responding to lawsuits brought by several state attorneys general who claim the Congress has exceeded its constitutional authority in the health care legislation by mandating fines on individuals who do not purchase health insurance, is now making the argument that the fine is really just . . . you guessed it . . . a tax which is, of course, within the power of Congress. Quite amazing isn’t it? It isn’t a tax, it’s a fine except when it’s a tax. Mr. Obama has created a new dance step: the double dos-a-do. Then there was the White House assurance that the Administration’s spending (they call it investment) was going to decrease the deficit. The CBO, ever so belatedly, blew the whistle on that outlandish claim with the warning that the mounting deficits were now deemed to be unsustainable.
Another refrain of Dos-a-Do and Around You Go was the Administration’s attempt to harmonize the American Latino community with the President’s promise of comprehensive immigration reform legislation during his first year in office. Eighteen months later, and counting, and there hasn’t been a scintilla of effort to propose or advance such reform. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and the state’s legislature called the President’s hand on this one when they passed Senate bill 1070 which goes into effect this week unless derailed by an injunction asked for in the recent suit filed by the federal government against the state (that is, the people) of Arizona. SB 1070 does nothing more than require the state’s law enforcement officers to assist the federal government in enforcing its own laws. The President’s claim that SB 1070 would result in police “confronting a mom and her kids at an ice-cream parlor” with demands they show proof of citizenship was pure demagoguery. It was Dos-a-Do and Around You Go writ large and sung off key.
And just this month, the president, employing his power to make recess appointments, named Donald Berwick to head the Office of Medicare & Medicaid Services. Mr. Obama, citing Republican obstructionism, said speed was needed to fill a position that has been vacant for a number of years. If that is so, why did it take him eighteen months to make the appointment? Amazing isn’t it coming from a man who as a senator was outraged over President Bush’s recess appointment of John Bolton to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Then there was the effort from day one of this Administration to convince the American public that there was no such thing as a war on terror, that terrorism didn’t exist and we could change the reality of terror with a mere change in vocabulary. Administration officials were forbidden to use the words Islamic and terror in the same sentence. The Obama cabinet began dissembling with new ways to describe what every American recognizes as the paramount existential threat of the 21st century. Suddenly, the President’s cabinet members were, with straight faces, trying to convince the people that “man caused disasters,” and not terrorism, caused the first and second World Trade Center attacks, and the attack on the USS Cole, and the bombing of the Embassies in Africa, and the London subway and bus bombings and the Christmas-day near mid-air disaster and the Fort Hood massacre and the Time’s Square attempted car bomb attack, and the carnage at Mumbai. We are not fighting Islamic terrorism on a global scale they tell us. We’re, instead, engaging in “overseas contingency operations.” This is well beyond the typical Dos a Do and Around You Go that routinely emanates from every misstep of this Administration. It is even beyond implausible. The President simply shouldn’t tolerate this sort of semantic gobbledygook, much less be responsible for it. This is our national security with which these political neophytes are toying. It boggles the mind.
And to prove there was no war on terror the Attorney General of the United States declared that the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks would be tried in civilian courts rather than by the military tribunal to which Khalid Sheik Mohammad had already announced his intention to plead guilty. Almost comically, Attorney General Eric Holder, testifying at a recent Senate hearing, displayed breathtaking linguistic gymnastics by resisting every effort by the panel to coax him into acknowledging that there was even the remotest connection between Islamic extremism and attacks on innocent civilians.
Then, of course, there is also the new 2300-hundred-page financial reform law that calls for 243 new regulations to protect Main Street from Wall Street. America got a lot of Dos-a-Do and Around You Go by the President about how the people were going to be protected with this new law even though there isn’t a word in the Act dealing with the malfeasances of those government sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were, perhaps, among the most responsible culprits in the entire financial meltdown. So far, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are untouched, unmentioned and unregulated by Obama’s financial regulatory reform. We doubt, however, that they will remain unscathed once the public begins to focus on the fact that Representative Barney Frank, Senator Chris Dodd and (former Senator) Barrack Obama were the largest recipients of Fannie Mae’s political slush fund.
We could go on, as the Presidential encores of Dos-a-Do and Around You Go seem endless. But things do have a way of changing and, perhaps, the President will soon learn that, just like the original Virginia Reel, fewer and fewer people are dancing to this tune.