Laugh or Cry?

by Victor Davis Hanson

In David Remnick’s long, fawning New Yorker interview with President Obama, most will be struck by Obama’s whine that his present unpopularity may be due to his race (as if after four or five years the public ignored serial 7 percent unemployment, Benghazi, the IRS corruption, the NSA disclosures, the AP tapping, the Obamacare incompetence and dissimulation, and suddenly woke up to the fact that they had twice elected a black president). Or readers might find it strange that Remnick tags along with our progressive populist to serial fundraising shake-downs at mansions of hip billionaire crony capitalists, who, we must assume, qualify as fat cats and corporate-jet owners of the sort who did not know that they should have long ago quit profiting and most certainly did not build their own businesses.

Be that as it may, what struck me instead was the paraphrase of one of Obama stump speeches to his rich die-hard supporters:

“As Obama ticked off a list of first-term achievements — the economic rescue, the forty-four straight months of job growth, a reduction in carbon emissions, a spike in clean-energy technology — he seemed efficient but contained, running at three-quarters speed, like an athlete playing a midseason road game of modest consequence.”

Obama may remind Remnick of an athlete running at three-quarters speed, but what the president enumerated was quite preposterous.

The “economic rescue” entailed the most sluggish economy after a recession since the Great Depression, in which $7 trillion in additional debt brought almost no real growth in GDP and in terms of 2004 reelection rhetoric would have been dubbed a “jobless recovery.”

“Job Growth” I think refers to 10 million more “non institutionalized” unemployed than when Obama entered office, and unemployment over 7 percent in every month but one of Obama’s presidency. 90 million not working is not a first-term achievement.

A reduction in “carbon emissions” is due to only two causes: a near-permanent recessionary slow down suppressed energy use, and fracking on private lands created a natural-gas renaissance that has taken market share from coal-generation plants — a technology that came despite not because of Obama’s efforts that mostly opposed fracking technology on federal lands.

A “spike in clean-energy technology” is tragicomedy, given the bankruptcies of subsidized crony-capitalist companies like Solyndra, or the implosion of promised break-through vehicles like the Volt and Tesla. More believable might have been a supposed Obama claim that he had trust in a bailed-out GM’s ability to return to mega-profit-making on gas-guzzling big pickups and SUVs — and recent strong sales figures proved him right.

With mythologies like these, no wonder Obama assumes that he faces little auditing from the media and can more or less spin fantasies in the castles of the 1 percent without worry.