A Curious Insularity

by Victor Davis Hanson

In the world of Barack Obama, inflating tires and “tuning up” modern car engines precludes off-shore drilling. Four-dollar-a-gallon gas prices can be ameliorated by having the average consumer trade in his 8-mpg clunker. Medical bills soar because doctors unnecessarily rip out tonsils and lop off limbs. “Skyrocketing” power bills and bankrupt coal companies are abstractions, and do not involve personal tragedies. One third of the border fenced means that the fence is “basically” completed. Nine percent unemployment is due in part to automation like ATMs, which apparently first came on the scene during the Obama administration to eliminate jobs. Shovel-ready jobs were not so shovel-ready. Criticism is dismissed as “enemies” deserving “punishment” or opponents relegated to the “back seat” or adversaries caricatured with “moats and alligators.” And so on.

Two themes predominate: a cluelessness about how things work outside the Ivy League–Chicago–D.C. political nexus, and a sense that nothing is ever Barack Obama’s fault. In that regard, he has two legitimate mea culpas: One, Obama has never run a business, spent any considerable time off the public payroll or outside of politics, or spent any time with those who were once characterized as “clingers,” and thus cannot be expected to know much about how cars work, doctors are paid, illegal immigrants cross the border, or the basics of economics. Intelligence and achievement are instead measured solely in terms of what universities or the elite media decide. Second, at no point in his past soaring cursus honorum (Occidental, Columbia, Harvard Law Review, Chicago Law School, Chicago politics and organizing, the U.S. Senate) did anyone hold him to account, as in saying, “First, let us see exactly what you achieved that might justify yet another honor or promotion” — as in a stellar GPA, high LSAT score, brilliant law-review essay, a seminal tenure-winning book on the law, an award-winning law course, a landmark new community-organizing program, or a hallmark piece of senatorial legislation.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Obama (a) continues to say some rather strange things that seem naive and out of touch with the lives of average Americans to the point of absurdity, and (b) seems miffed that anyone might for the first time in his life dare to scrutinize his record, and collate what he said in 2008 and early 2009 with the reality of what has actually transpired by mid-2011.

I think a majority of Americans have now come to the above conclusions (as evidenced in the 2010 midterm election), and those in business, from the small entrepreneur to the captain of industry, have decided that it is wisest to sit out what is left of this administration, and wait to hire, buy, invest, and expand until someone at the top shows a basic knowledge of finance and economics, and some sympathy concerning what those in the private sector must contend with.

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