In the election of 2008, candidate Barack Obama promised fundamentally to transform America. To most people, that meant (as he assured the nation) that his stimulus plan would keep the unemployment rate from reaching 8%, and that he would reduce the debt by concentrating on” jobs, jobs, jobs”. In fact, unemployment quickly soared above 8% and has been stuck there throughout his presidency.
His first two years in office were spent enacting a healthcare bill that was widely unpopular, and, even though the Supreme Court has now upheld it, it is just as unpopular as it was before the Court acted. Many Americans don’t believe they will be able to keep their own doctors, an opinion shared by the Association of American Medical Colleges (see Sunday N.Y. Times July 29th) and the Doctor and Patient Medical Association which last month released the results of a random survey of physicians that revealed that a substantial percentage of doctors are planning (or considering) to leave the practice of medicine or to withdraw from Medicare or Medicaid.
Americans listened because they thought better days were ahead and they were fed up with George W. Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Four years later, the Afghanistan conflict continues to rage on and President Obama has announced a withdrawal date whether or not we are successful, making it more likely that we will fail. He has added over $5 trillion to our national debt and has not created any net new jobs. The unemployment rate remains stuck stubbornly above 8% having just ticked up from 8.2% to 8.3%, and whatever job creation has taken place has been far short of the new jobs required to keep up with the new job seekers entering the job market for the first time each month. And yet, he is asking for another 4 years in office as if he has been successful. He tells us it would be have been worse without him. He continues to talk about what he inherited from Bush.
He did, indeed, inherit a financial crisis that largely was the result of government insistence (far pre-dating Bush 43) on the abrogation of credit worthiness and credit history as a qualification for mortgage eligibility. He also inherited what we believe is still the greatest nation on earth, a nation born of the political genius of its founders, an experiment in democracy that actually worked. He inherited a country that is still the envy of the world.
Recently, President Obama again talked about fundamentally transforming America. He still means it. But the American people have been given a front row view of what that transformation means. The Obama Administration is adding more and more government control over ever more aspects of our lives. He is committed to class warfare; he constantly says the rich must do their fair share (who could argue with that). But as we have written in these essays, the so-called wealthy currently do more than their fair share. The percentage of taxes (48%) the so-called wealthy (top 2%) pay is twice the percentage of earned income (24%) they represent.
When he was a community organizer, Obama followed the teachings of Saul Alinsky who taught that the ends justify the means, and President Obama seems still to be following Alinsky’s counsel. President Obama has adopted class struggle and redistributive economics as his cause célèbre. This is why he has squandered so much political capital on a transformative initiative such as Obamacare for which there is no national consensus, and that is why he has made increasing taxes on those families earning $250,000 or more his top priority, even though the nation is sputtering close to recession.
Finally, his rebuttal of criticism regarding his Roanoke, Virginia “you didn’t build that” tirade strikes us as patently disingenuous. He claims he is being quoted out of context. He isn’t. True, he said, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.”
Fair enough. But why then would he go on to say, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” The hundreds of thousands of people employed by the Ford Motor Company, or Microsoft or Apple or Intel (we could go on endlessly) appreciate that America has many great teachers (so did the Soviet Union) and many roads and bridges (they have some of those in Albania too) but Americans also know that the “unbelievable American system” to which Obama referred emerged out of a paradigm of minimum government interference in the lives of the people and the commerce of the nation. Sorry Mr. President, but there is a Ford Motor Company precisely because Henry Ford built it, and there is a Microsoft precisely because Bill Gates grew it, and there is an Apple Computer precisely because Steve Jobs created it and there is an Intel precisely because Andy Grove envisioned it.
And, one can only wonder, what was the purpose of the President’s gratuitous remark in the same speech, “I’m always struck by people who think, well, it (his or her successful business) must be because I was just so smart.” Who in the world ever heard a successful businessman or woman say such a thing? The purpose of the President’s remark was, of course, to engender resentment towards those who have succeeded in business in America. Neither the President nor his speechwriters formulate his political speeches recklessly or clumsily. They are carefully calibrated to arouse an audience. This speech backfired not because the President was misunderstood, but, rather, because the country understood exactly what he was inferring and they didn’t like it.
President Obama may or may not embrace the philosophies of his father who was a committed Marxist, or his various mentors and friends who so often were radicals or socialists, or the leaders of the radical, socialist Chicago New Party, the endorsement of which he sought as a candidate for the Illinois Senate, but their collective influence on his worldview and his philosophy of intrusive government and redistributive economics appears, to us, to have been very substantial, if not defining.
Let us turn to the effect of President Obama’s policies on American relations with its adversaries in the world. As we have seen this summer, we have been unable to slow down Iran’s relentless push to have nuclear weapons, and it is a sure thing that if the United States does not take the lead, which could require using force, Iran will have nuclear weapons. Iran is not a small country. It is capable of being a large and imposing regional power, and with nuclear weapons, it will be. They have declared that Israel should be wiped off the map. Israel, has been the faithful ally of the United States since its founding over six decades ago. It is a lone and beleaguered democracy in a region awash with despots. President Obama failed to visit Israel even when he went to the Middle East to regale the Arab world from Cairo, a mere 264 miles from Jerusalem.
His famous reset of relations with Russia, as enunciated by Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, has gotten for the United States, essentially, nothing. The Russians continue to veto every resolution at the United Nations to rein in the carnage in Syria. Mr. Putin has the United States checkmated. The barbarity in Syria has been sad testimony to Kofi Annan’s useless conflict-resolution missions and to Russian vetoes. In the absence of American assistance to the Syrian rebels, Al Qaeda is reported to be stepping in. Nothing will happen without American leadership, nothing can happen without American leadership, and President Obama has not chosen to lead
If President Obama wins reelection, we can, indeed, count on America being fundamentally changed just as he has promised. We can expect a transformed America that is much closer to the European socialist model, and we believe we can expect further deterioration of American leadership in the world.
While Secretary of Defense, Panetta, warns that the looming budgetary sequestration process, which could result in an arbitrary $600 billion slash in defense spending over the next ten years, will be devastating to our military capability, his boss, our Commander-in- Chief, remains silent.
President Obama did inherit a seriously reduced navy. Stretched thin in the Persian Gulf, we have insufficient ships at sea to prevent mischief, say, in the South China Sea where China is building up its naval presence and laying claim to territory long recognized as part of the Philippines. With 216 Admirals and a total fleet currently trimmed to only 282 ships, the United States is approaching a ratio of one Admiral for every ship. The President, as Commander-in-Chief, should be the primary advocate weighing in on our need to maintain the strongest possible military deterrence. With defense expenditures accounting for about 20% of the federal budget and the entire mélange of entitlements accounting for over 60% of federal expenditures, allowing a feckless congress to hold our defense capability hostage to partisan political wrangling is wrong. President Obama should be standing shoulder to shoulder with his own Secretary of Defense, but he seems unwilling to alienate those on the entitlement-oriented left upon whom his re-election depends.
Four years ago, candidate Obama promised to fundamentally transform America. We now have a glimpse of that fundamental transformation, and in a matter of weeks, voters will have to decide whether or not they like what they see.