Politics & Policy

Mulligans for Obama

Playing with a handicap. (Pool Image/Getty Images)
The United States must cope with many hazards.

While Barack Obama spends so much of his time on golf courses, some 14 million Americans are the ones who want to take a Mulligan.

Extrapolating from Obama’s record-low approval rating of 38 percent (via Gallup last week), compared with his 51 percent share of the vote in the 2012 election (he received nearly 66 million votes), that’s how many Americans actually pulled the lever for Obama but now think he’s doing a lousy job.

Americans would need to take a Clintonian number of policy Mulligans just to start putting the world and our country back in order. And since the real world doesn’t allow do-overs, we’ll need to “play the ball as it lies” — from the deep rough into which Obama has driven us. The question thus becomes what steps the United States should take — and will be able to take once Obama and Harry Reid are no longer standing in the way — to create a world more akin to what novelist Walker Percy once described as the “pleasant licit fairways and the sunny irenic greens” of peace and prosperity.

Herewith, then, a set of rescue clubs:

First, to take just the first step in countering a problem George Will reasonably calls “more dangerous than the Islamic State,” namely the emergence of Russian fascist hegemonism, the United States should take the advice of (amazingly enough) New Jersey senator Robert Menendez and arm Ukraine, very quickly, with “sophisticated weapons.” We should further arm the Baltics and other Eastern European nations, too, along with providing the missile-defense systems we once promised. And domestically, we should ramp up as many kinds of energy production as possible, as quickly as possible, while removing as many of Obama’s hindrances thereto as possible — the better to provide Europe cheaper, more abundant energy supplies so it can forswear oil from Russia. (A regime of sanctions won’t be effective against Putin unless Europe feels confident that Russia can’t do much, economically, to fight back.)

Second, the United States must begin treating the Islamist State as a mortal threat. Congress should officially declare war against it. (It calls itself a state, and it controls a large swath of territory, so we should treat it as a state actor via an official declaration of war, thus letting Congress assert its constitutional role in the process.) In addition to air strikes, we should send Special Forces against it. And we should use every arrow in our diplomatic quiver to pressure other Arab states (note: this excludes Iran) to use all their might, behind our leadership, to crush the barbarians out of existence.

Third, we should strengthen sanctions against Iran, rhetorically put the possibility of military action back on the table, and demand that the Persians stop enriching uranium. Period.

Fourth, we should announce that Israel enjoys our full support in reaction to any attack against it — without questions or second-guessing. If Hamas, or Hezbollah, or the Islamic State, or Iran, or anyone else sends rockets or suicide bombers, or kidnaps Israelis, or takes any other physically hostile actions, the world should know that we consider Israel to have carte blanche to do absolutely anything it feels necessary in response. Concomitantly, if any Arab state will newly recognize Israel and agree to partner with it economically or otherwise, we should offer carefully targeted and trackable economic aid in return. Such aid would be far cheaper than the costs of eternal American military alert in the region.

Fifth, we should announce a determination to adopt, within a year, an entirely new long-range plan for a measured, intelligent defense build-up. As the Quadrennial Defense Review showed, our military is becoming remarkably hollow and must be reinvigorated.

Sixth, we should immediately trim the top American corporate-income-tax rate to 30 percent, while announcing a determination to pass, within a year, comprehensive corporate-tax reform — and at least put on the table the possibility of completely eliminating the tax, if suitable adjustments can be made for LLCs, Subchapter S corporations, and similar semi-exotica.

Seventh, we should announce a similar deadline for passage of comprehensive reform of food stamps and other welfare-like programs, along the lines advocated by Representative Paul Ryan.

Eighth, we should immediately repeal Obamacare, with the possible exception of temporarily allowing the federal exchanges to remain in existence — minus the mandates — while guaranteeing that those who wish to keep their new plans can do so. Simultaneously, we should announce a task force to cull the best ideas from the various Republicans plans already floating around (including Burr-Coburn-Hatch in the Senate and two plans, the Scalise/Republican Study Committee plan and that of Tom Price, in the House). From the start, announce that the five essentials governing our plan will be 1) portability (including across state lines), 2) equal tax treatment for plans bought on the individual market and those secured through employers, 3) patient choice, 4) low-income/high-risk subsidies of some sort, and 5) expanded health-savings-account options.

Ninth, we should revoke Obama’s executive action that effectively implemented the DREAM Act, while we firmly, even fiercely, enforce the border with Mexico and every available, practical stricture against illegals. Simultaneously, announce a task force to report back within a year on how to streamline the legal immigration process, while vastly improving the performance of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

There: That’s a hefty list. And it doesn’t even start to address social issues and pro-family initiatives, reform of the Department of Justice and the judiciary, entitlement reform, or any number of other long-term imperatives. But, as they say in golf after a solid start, the listed items would amount to a pretty darn good front nine.

— Quin Hillyer is a contributing editor for National Review. Follow him on Twitter: @QuinHillyer.


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