If CBS had re-broadcast Obama’s Knox College speech last evening, the Talker-in-Chief’s remarks would have devoured 60 Minutes and consumed the first six minutes of Big Brother. But wait, there’s more: According to the White House, Wednesday’s address at that Galesburg, Ill., campus launched “several weeks” of campaign-style appearances around the country designed to demonstrate Obama’s devotion to the middle class. So, we have that going for us.
This is at least the eighth distinct month in which Obama has pivoted back to the economy — supposedly his top priority since 2008. Obama previously attempted this in January, April, August, and September 2011; June and July 2012; and last February. NBC News’ Chuck Todd dubbed Obama’s latest effort a “Déjà Pivot.”
Press previews of Obama’s appearance predicted that he would have little new to offer. Obama spent 66 minutes and some 7,750 words to live down to those low expectations. Beyond being eerily familiar and painfully hollow, Obama’s rhetoric also was oddly detached from reality.
Obama, for example, resorted to class-warfare rhetoric. He just can’t help himself. He decried “the forces that battered the middle class for so long” and predictably complained that “nearly all the income gains of the past ten years have continued to flow to the top 1 percent.”
“We changed a tax code too skewed in favor of the wealthiest at the expense of working families,” Obama said. “We asked those at the top to pay a little bit more.” Yes, just a minor request — backed by the full police power of the IRS and federal prosecutors, for those who fail to cooperate when “asked.”
Obama, once again, genuflected before the altar of “clean” energy. “We invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil,” he said. “We doubled wind and solar power.” Such green “investments” have flowed quite red — both for the 19 taxpayer-funded companies in the Heritage Foundation’s Green Energy Graveyard and for the bald eagles, golden eagles, mosquito-eating bats, and other birds being chopped to pieces by federally subsidized windmills.
Obama bragged that “we’re well on our way to fully implementing the Affordable Care Act.” Planet Earth to POTUS: Do you recall delaying the employer mandate for one year?
Despite massive, probably insurmountable delays in launching health-care exchanges in 34 states by the end of this quarter, Obama Pollyannishly claimed that “starting on October 1, private plans will actually compete for your business, and you’ll be able to comparison-shop online.”
Obama complained that “we’ve got folks who’ve insisted on leaving in place a meat cleaver called the sequester that’s cost jobs.” While Obama stubbornly blames Republicans for the sequester, this “meat cleaver” was his idea all along, as notorious right-wing ideologue Bob Woodward demonstrated last February 22 in the tea-party-controlled Washington Post.
Finally, Obama slammed Republicans for an “endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals.” Yet Obama himself claimed to be “outraged” by the IRS’s persecution of tea-party and conservative groups. “I’m looking forward to working with Congress to fully investigate what happened,” Obama said last May 16. Why would Obama want to probe something phony? As this scandal widened, Obama also demanded the resignation of then–IRS commissioner Steven Miller. Was Miller’s resignation letter phony, too?
Perhaps responding to additional phoniness, Obama found the Justice Department’s inspection of the Associated Press’s and Fox News Channel’s telephone records and e-mails so troublesome that he assigned Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate Attorney General Eric Holder’s role in these matters.
And al-Qaeda’s attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, might seem “phony” to Obama, but it likely does not to the survivors of the four American public servants murdered there last September 11.
If the Benghazi scandal truly is phony, one wonders why Team Obama refuses to give congressional investigators the names of some 30 or so federal employees and contractors who survived that horrible onslaught and could illuminate what really transpired. Indeed, as Representative Frank Wolf (R., Va.) explained on the House floor on July 18, these Benghazi survivors “have been asked or directed to sign additional non-disclosure agreements about their involvement in the Benghazi attacks.” The House should use its legitimate subpoena power to bring these survivors to Capitol Hill, so they can explain to the American people what is and is not phony about the Benghazi slaughter.
Fifty-four months into his presidency, even Obama’s biggest supporters should detect what his detractors concluded years ago: This man displays virtually no interest in the hard work of leading the federal government. Cabinet meetings, negotiations with congressional leaders, and marching orders for the administration that bears his name all require discipline, focus, and a single-mindedness that have escaped someone who never ran anything larger than his U.S. Senate office. Why should Obama govern when he can jet about and flap his gums until they ache?
The good news is that America need withstand Obama for only another three and a half years.
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.