Debunking Obama’s Latest Jobs Myth

Debunking Obama’s Latest Jobs Myth

Mike Brownfield

November 3, 2011 at 9:37 am

 

Imagine a high-speed train zooming down hundreds of miles of glistening train track stretching across sunny California, connecting Anaheim to San Francisco. It’s a bullet train dream, and it’s a prime example of President Barack Obama’s latest plan to create jobs in America. The trouble is that this dream is far from reality.

The Los Angeles Times reported this week that the California high-speed train–which is funded in part by $3 billion in federal grants from President Obama’s stimulus–is now expected to cost $98 billion, twice what was expected, and will take an additional 13 years to complete, extending the project to 2033. Questions remain about where the funding will come from, whether the project is viable, and whether the projected ridership will even materialize.

But projects like these are central to President Obama’s plan to put Americans back to work. Speaking yesterday from Georgetown Waterfront Park in Washington, D.C., Obama declared that his plan will “put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads, our airports, our bridges and our transit systems.” And that is, of course, all at the expense of the American taxpayers.

The President once called these projects “shovel ready,” meaning that as soon as money arrived from the federal government, workers could be on the job. He made it sound as easy as flipping a switch, but unfortunately it didn’t work as planned. Despite a $787 billion stimulus package, America’s economy continues to languish with 14 million out of work and a 9.1 percent unemployment rate. The President joked, “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.” Though he didn’t use the phrase “shovel-ready” in his remarks yesterday, the implication was still there. If Congress approves his jobs plan, he argued, all the construction workers sitting on the sidelines will be put back to work overnight.

But that’s not the way things work in the real world. Associated Press and Congressional Research Service reports show that infrastructure spending does not create jobs and, in fact, can even have a negative effect. Heritage’s Patrick Knudsen explains:

Building and repairing roads and bridges neither creates net job growth nor boosts the economy in the near term.

First, increasing government spending on these projects simply moves resources from one place to another — it may employ construction workers, but only by reducing jobs in other sectors. Further, the money never gets out the door soon enough to promote near-term job growth.

And then there’s the President’s flawed argument that since others are doing it, the United States should be, too. “How do we sit back and watch China and Europe build the best bridges and high-speed railroads and gleaming new airports, and we’re doing nothing?” he asks. It’s not a new line of argument from the President, and it leaves out some very important facts.

Dating all the way back to the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama spoke of the need to “invest” in infrastructure in order to be competitive with the likes of China. At the time, Jim Geraghty reported at National Review Online that while Obama puts China on a pedestal, he entirely overlooks some serious problems with transportation in China–namely, stories of severe power shortages affecting the country’s exports, an episode where 500,000 train passengers were left stranded for days, and outbreaks of violence where airplane travelers were left grounded without accommodation. And that’s not to mention the working conditions under which China builds its infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Europe, which heavily subsidizes its passenger rail systems, receives a poor return on its investment. Heritage’s Ron Utt explains that despite massive spending, passengers are opting for more efficient transportation in the air:

In Europe as a whole (EU-27), rail accounted for only 6.1 percent of passenger travel in 2007, including travel by air and sea. Buses accounted for 8.3 percent of the market, and air travel accounted for 8.8 percent. Despite Europe’s huge investment in passenger rail, its market share declined from 6.6 percent in 1995 to 6.1 percent in 2007. Over that same period, commercial air increased its share from 6.3 percent to 8.8 percent. By providing faster service and competitive prices, it took passengers away from rail, buses, and autos.

But to hear President Obama tell the story, building a European- or Chinese-style infrastructure is the key to the future–and to creating new jobs. Workers are ready to go, and all they need is your money to get started. But this is something we tried once already with the last stimulus, it didn’t work, and it’s not going to work this time, either. Obama’s infrastructure plan is a train that shouldn’t leave the station, headed for a bridge to nowhere, and jobs are the last thing that it will deliver.

Advertisements

Another Day, Another ‘We Can’t Wait’ Executive Order

Another Day, Another ‘We Can’t Wait’ Executive Order

By Doug Powers  •  October 31, 2011 04:34 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

The “jobs bill by executive order piecemeal” initiative continues:

This afternoon, in yet another executive action intended to boost the economy, President Obama signs an executive order that addresses prescription drug shortages.

The signing marks yet another move in the president’s “we can’t wait” campaign to grow the economy through unilateral actions while his $447 jobs bill remains stalled in Congress.

The president will direct the Food and Drug Administration to take steps to further reduce and prevent drug shortages, and price gouging.

For some reason I’ve got a feeling that prescription drug prices are about to rise.

**Written by Doug Powers

Is Herman Cain the Answer?

Is Herman Cain the Answer?

By Ron
Lipsman

Whenever I see the inane bumper sticker War Is Not
the Answer
, I always think: That depends on what the question is. If
Roosevelt had answered the real question posed to him by the Japanese 70 years
ago according to the bumper sticker, then the idiot who pasted the sticker on
his bumper would likely not have had the freedom to do so. If the Israelis had
answered the actual question posed to them by Nasser in May 1967 according to
the bumper sticker, there would be no Israel today. Similarly, the answer to the
query in the title depends on the exact question.

The short form of the question is obviously: Who
should the Republicans nominate to oppose Obama in 2012? For me — a staunch
conservative — the long and much more important and meaningful form of the
question is formulated as follows:

The US has been listing left for a hundred years,
drifting away from a constitutional Republic devoted to individual liberty, free
markets and limited government by the consent of the governed toward a statist
society of forced equality, shared economic misery and unlimited, unresponsive
government. Following a brief (and temporary) course correction under Reagan, we
have continued our inexorable slide toward socialistic oblivion under the two
Bushes, Clinton and especially under Obama. There have been signs in the last
two years that a significant percentage of the electorate has finally awakened
to the existence of the cliff toward which we are speeding. The next election
provides a chance — perhaps the final chance — to irrevocably halt the mad
dash to the edge and then to restore America back to its original
political/cultural roots and traditions. Is Herman Cain the Moses we so
desperately seek to lead us back to the promised land?

The odds may be slim, but I believe that the United
States has the opportunity to effect a fundamental course correction next year.
It is possible that the people might elect a truly conservative President and
supply him with a sufficiently conservative Congress so that together they could
halt the leftward drift and set the country on a more traditional course. It may
be that enough of the electorate is actually ready to bring this about. Reagan
would have done it a generation ago, but he lacked the requisite companion
Congress and the people had not sufficiently awakened to the gravity of the
progressive threat. Today the conditions are more ripe.

One thing is clear: Mitt Romney is not Moses. Of
course he would be immeasurably better than Obama. But it is absolutely certain
that he desires to be president not in order to answer the question in the form
that I posed it. While his instincts might be more conservative than liberal,
Romney is a “big government Republican,” another Bush or McCain, who:

  • has no appreciation for the perilous course that our
    nation has traveled in the 20thcentury;
  • thinks that Obama pushed the wrong levers rather than
    sought to radically transform the nature of the country;
  • and who will do no more than briefly arrest the
    country’s mad dash to the left, while leaving intact the socialist
    infrastructure to be further ratcheted up by the next Social Democrat that
    succeeds him.

Make no mistake — there are people out there who
understand the perilous state in which we find ourselves and who might formulate
and implement a program to rescue the nation. People like Jim DeMint or Mike
Pence come to mind. Paul Ryan perhaps. But they are not running. Who among those
actually running might be our Moses? As I said, Romney definitely is not. And
the people know it. That’s why, despite his advantage in experience,
organization, money and recognition, he can’t break away from the pack. Who then
is the answer? Certainly not Huntsman — another faux conservative. Not Paul —
an extreme libertarian whose opinions on national security and social morality
are frightening.

That leaves five: Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Perry and
Santorum. In fact, I believe that each of those five understands the horrible
drift of the country over the last century and would be determined to reverse
it. So which of them should be Moses? Well, none of them is a perfect redeemer.
And our American Idol style of selecting a nominee has exposed the warts in each
of them. Santorum is severely damaged goods. His overwhelming loss in his Senate
re-election run in 2008 makes him a sure loser. No one is taking him seriously;
his poll numbers are anemic; he would do us a favor by joining Pawlenty on the
sidelines. When the Idol process began, Bachmann raced to the front. But then,
apparently due to her relative inexperience and her permanent “deer in the
headlights” facial expression, the ardor for her cooled. Next to streak to the
front was Rick Perry. But his feeble performance in several Idol rounds knocked
him off the pedestal. Gingrich’s numbers have not oscillated up and down like
the previous two. In fact, he is clearly the sharpest tack in the bunch, but his
track record of quixotic behavior and moral ambiguity gives pause. And so that
leaves the Hermanator (a term that Cain uses for himself in his 2005 book).
People like him and for the moment at least, he has leapt to the front of the
Idol polls.

So what about Herman? Can he play the role of Moses?
He has no money, no organization and no political experience. And there is
something about him that suggests political naïveté. But his heart and, more
importantly, his head seem to be in the right place. I just finished reading the
2005 book, which he wrote following his unsuccessful run for the Senate from
Georgia in 2004. I believe that he understands what has happened to the country
and would work assiduously to bring about a course correction that conservatives
so fervently desire. Does he have the gravitas to pull it off? The last
non-politician that the country elected president was Eisenhower — who only
commanded the most formidable army in the history of the world. Somehow CEO of
Godfather’s Pizza doesn’t quite match up. But let us not forget that Reagan was
president of the Screen Actors Guild and Lincoln’s resume wasn’t all that
impressive either.

The dispatching of Obama and his replacement by a
committed conservative is a paramount task for our nation. The choice we have
for the leader who is to accomplish that task is limited to Romney and one of
Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich or Perry. Romney might defeat Obama, but it will not
herald the transformation that we seek. I believe that there is a reasonable
chance that any of the latter four, if given the spear of leadership, might be
up to the task. If Cain turns out to be the Idol selection, then I will support
him enthusiastically and pray that he can deliver. Personally, I prefer Perry
for reasons that I outlined in another
article
in this journal. But if the Hermanator gets the nod, then on the
basis of what I have seen and read thus far, I can live with that and I will
vote for him optimistically.

Who is Barack Obama?

Who is Barack Obama?

By Mondo
Frazier

There are so many things the public does not know
about the man who sits in the White House.  Who is Barack Obama?  In my search
to find out the answers I embarked on a journey that has lasted three years and
counting — and nearly made my head explode.

As usual, when Obama is the subject, Americans can’t
count on the progressives in the Corporate Mainstream Media (CMM) for much
help.  So, what’s one to do?  The foreign press proved helpful.  Therefore,
gleaned from the foreign press: a few stories which didn’t rate any coverage
from the U.S. CMM.

In 2005, then-Senator Barack Obama went on a mission
to Russia with Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN).  The  newly-minted U.S. senator was
invited to be part of a Russian fact-finding tour that inspected a nuclear
weapons site in Perm, Siberia.  The base Lugar and Obama visited was where
mobile launch missiles were being destroyed under the Cooperative Threat
Reduction program (CTR), which also went by the name of the Nunn-Lugar
program.

What happened next — after the inspections were over
— was at the time reported by several foreign news sources but was never
reported in the USA by the CMM.  The Russians detained Obama and Lugar for three
hours at the airport, demanding to examine both Obama’s and Lugar’s passports
and search their plane.  Some sources reported that the Russians accused Barack
Obama of being a spy.

But wait — there’s more!

According to an Italian source, the Russians did not
accuse Obama of being an American spy; they accused him of being a spy for the
British!  The report went on to say that the incident ended up involving the
White House, the U.S. State Department, and military officials, along with their
counterparts in Moscow.

Strangely enough, an official report from Lugar’s
office about the trip never mentioned the incident.  Neither did Barack Obama in
2008 when he was desperate to exhibit some foreign policy
chops.

One other oddity: in the fall of 2008, Obama admitted
on his Fightthesmears.com site that he had held dual citizenship with both the
United States and Great Britain (the site explained that this was due to Barack
Obama, Sr. being a foreign national) until 1982.  Did the Russians know
something about Obama’s citizenship in 2005 that ordinary Americans don’t know
in 2011?

Another story no one has seen fit to ask about:
Obama’s Most Excellent Pakistani Adventure.

In the summer of 1981, 20-year-old Barack Obama
embarked on a two-week trip to Pakistan.  At least what little reporting that
has been done claimed the length of the trip was two weeks.  The only proof that
the trip didn’t turn into a longer stay is that we (supposedly) have records
which show that Barack Obama enrolled at Columbia University later that same
summer.  Of course, the public hasn’t seen those records, but that’s what we’ve
been told.  Anyone in doubt will be directed to Obama’s autobiography,
Dreams from My Father.

Obama clearly gave the impression in DFMF that he was
this penniless, somewhat confused young man, in search of an identity.  Obama
makes sure readers don’t miss the point by writing that he was forced to wear
“thrift store clothing” during this time.  Yet he somehow managed to find the
cash to finance a two-week trip to Pakistan.

Which he never wrote about.  Which in itself is odd:
here’s a guy who wrote two autobiographies that explored events real, imagined,
and totally fictional that supposedly forged the modern-day Barack Obama from
humble beginnings.  That’s according to the Obama NarrativeTM
which gets most of its facts from Dreams from My
Father
.

Not only did a poor, nearly destitute Obama manage to
afford the trip to Pakistan, but once there he somehow financed two weeks in the
Lahore Hilton International.  In addition, Obama was introduced to the future
prime minister and president of Pakistan — and went bird-hunting with him.
Which the prime minister mentioned in the Pakistani press in 2008.  There’s so
much more, including one question the CMM never asked Obama: who arranged all of
this?  For a 20-year-old nobody.

Another curious piece to the queer Obama puzzle is the
connection — which hasn’t been made in the CMM (attention, Fox News!) —
between illegal foreign contributions to the Obama campaign and subsequent
billions in Stimulus money to foreign companies and banks.  During and after the
2008 election, accusations of illegal foreign contributions — which flowed into
the Obama campaign when credit card safeguards were disabled on the campaign’s
website — were documented in the conservative press and
elsewhere.

Who were these mysterious donors, and in what
countries did they live?  Unfortunately, due to the chicanery of Team Obama, we
may never know.  Fast-forward to 2009.  Obama’s multi-billion-dollar Stimulus is
rushed through Congress, and billions of dollars in Stimulus money are doled out
to foreign companies and banks.  Finland, China, Brazil, and India are just a
few of the beneficiaries of Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars. Might these have
been payoffs for those shady, unknown donations?

Bill Clinton was the first president to benefit from a
foreign spoils system, but Barack Obama has made Clinton look like an
amateur.

One more coincidence in shady fundraising.  The lady
involved with Obama’s fundraising in the Caribbean?  None other than Vera Baker,
who packed up and hurried left the country after the National Enquirer
started exploring a possible tryst between her and Obama in a Washington
hotel.

Barack Obama can only hope that ObamaCare covers
“extreme stress” — because whoever on his staff is responsible for keeping
track of all of the weird stuff in the president’s life is definitely a
candidate for burnout.

One final item involves that most elusive of
documents: Obama’s long-lost long-form birth certificate.

A Chicago-area activist, Sherman Skolnick, writing for
a radio show/website (now defunct) by the name of Cloak and Dagger uncorked this
headline on his readers.  It referred to another story he’d written in 2005 —
three years before anyone in the media coined the term “birther” to tamp down
curiosity about our 44th president’s past.  (All-caps headline in the
original story.)

CLOAK’S EXCLUSIVE AUGUST 2005 STORY EXPOSING OBAMA’S
KENYAN BIRTHPLACE FORCES OBAMA TO SANITIZE HIS PASSPORT
FILE.

Just another day in the life of anyone attempting to
pierce the shroud of mystery that surrounds our 44th president.  The
final result is the publication of The Secret Life of Barack Hussein
Obama
.

Mondo Frazier is the editor/founder
of the website DBKP – Death By 1000
Papercuts
and the
author of
The Secret Life of Barack Hussein
Obama
, published
by Threshold Editions/Simon &
Schuster.

Obama ‘Can’t Wait’ for the Rule of Law

Obama ‘Can’t Wait’ for the Rule of Law

By Mark
J. Fitzgibbons

President Obama’s proclamation on Monday that he
“can’t wait” for congressional action to help underwater homeowners raises two
questions.

If he already had the legal authority to take action,
then why did he wait?

Some may frame the second question this way: does
Obama’s plan exceed his constitutional authority?  Perhaps the better way to ask
the second question is whether the Obama plan is unlawful.

Either way, I can’t wait for Congress to conduct some
oversight hearings before the plan kicks in.  This isn’t just a figurative slap
in the face to both Congress and the rule of law; this is a kick in the
groin.

Ignoring the Constitution is so liberating for Mr.
Obama that he intends to do it on a “regular basis.”
The subtitle to Emily Miller’s piece at The Washington
Times

following the announcement of Obama’s “can’t wait” plan is “President unveils
lawless scheme to bypass Congress with executive orders.”

The term “lawless” is sometimes used in common
parlance the same way we use “unlawful,” but its real meaning is “not subject
to, or controlled by, the law.”

If we were to deem the president’s actions as not
subject to, nor controlled by, the law, then we are partly to blame.  If we fail
to even recognize government lawbreaking when and where it occurs, we get what
we deserve.

If, however, we were to take the view that the
president’s actions are in fact supposed to be governed and restricted by the
law, and that Mr. Obama’s actions not consistent with the law are therefore
unlawful, then we have a chance of preserving liberty.  The rule of law protects
liberty; abuse of the rule of law erodes liberty.

President Obama and his administration have engaged in
years of lawbreaking.  Mr. Obama unlawfully used TARP money so that the
government obtained ownership interests in Chrysler and General Motors.  He
ignored the War Powers Act in deploying the military machine to Libya.  When
Congress refused to pass the DREAM Act, he implemented portions of it via
executive order.

His contempt for the rule of law has had a
trickle-down effect into federal administrative bureaucracies such as the
Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board.  Even
his Department of Justice has shown contempt for the rule of
law.

Democratic representatives Jim Moran and Jesse
Jackson, Jr. recently urged — on camera, in fact — that President Obama
implement portions of the Obama jobs bill that never made it through
Congress.

These are members of Congress advocating for more
lawbreaking because they know they have a president who is willing to break —
indeed, has broken — the law governing his office and limiting its powers.  So
much for our system of checks and balances.

They also know that the patsy liberal media don’t care
about these things unless the unconstitutional lawbreaking is done by
Republicans.

The Constitution is broad in its sweep, but is
specific about certain functions of government.  Congress makes the laws.  When
Congress doesn’t pass a law, the president can’t pick up his bat and ball like
an angry juvenile.

We are hearing more and more from the left that the
president must do administratively what Congress refuses to do legislatively.
These are not mere words of frustration.  They are words of an ideology that is
dangerously inconsistent with American ideals.

The calls from the left to violate the Constitution
are protected by the First Amendment.  It is when they are implemented by the
president that they become lawbreaking.  The Constitution, you see, governs
government.

Mark Levin on his radio show Monday night played clips
of the Obama “can’t wait” speech and asked listeners to envision a foreign
dictator speaking in English.  That was quite an effective way to make the point
that in America we don’t do the sort of things Obama said he “can’t wait” to
do.

America will not lapse into a dictatorship; we won’t
let that happen.  But the dictatorial aspects of the Obama administration must
be called out for what they are: lawbreaking.

Harry Truman onced claimed that there were emergency
circumstances during the Korean War to use his commander-in-chief powers to
unilaterally stop a steel union strike.  His effort, though, was defeated in the
Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company v. Sawyer case.

Justice Robert Jackson, writing a concurring opinion in
the case, said this about claims of unrestricted executive power: “Such power
either has no beginning or it has no end.  If it exists, it need submit to no
legal restraint.  I am not alarmed that it would plunge us straightway into
dictatorship, but it is at least a step in that wrong
direction.”

Obama’s “can’t wait” plan is another example of how
the Constitution does not run on automatic pilot.  It must be enforced
on government.

If Congress responds weakly or passively to this kick
in the groin, then they are as much the problem as Mr. Obama.

Mark Fitzgibbons is co-author
with Richard Viguerie of the e-pamphlet “The Law That Governs Government:
Reclaiming The Constitution From Usurpers And Society’s Biggest
Lawbreaker
.”

Morning Bell: 1,000 Days Under President Obama

Morning Bell: 1,000 Days Under President Obama

Posted By Mike Brownfield On October 17, 2011 @ 10:00 am In Entitlements | No Comments

Today marks the 1,000th day of Barack Obama’s presidency, and unfortunately for America, those days have been marked by deeper deficits, lost jobs, prolonged unemployment, and bigger government. Meanwhile, many of those charged with leading the federal government have all but abdicated their responsibilities.

The national debt stands at $14.9 trillion–$4.2 trillion of which has been added since Obama took his oath of office. Fourteen million Americans are unemployed–that’s 9.1 percent of the workforce. The unemployment rate has been above nine percent for 840 of the 1000 days, and the average unemployed worker has been without a job for more than 9 months. All told, 2.2 million jobs have been lost under Obama’s watch, despite the White House’s claims that the President’s $787 billion stimulus would create 3.3 million net jobs by 2010.

Unfortunately, instead of leading America toward fiscal sanity and a stronger economy, the President is taking the country in the opposite direction. Last week, his latest proposal to “stimulate” the economy with another $447 billion in spending failed to pass the Senate, but instead of recognizing that more taxing and spending is not what America wants or needs, he’s redoubling his efforts. Today, the President is starting another bus tour [1] to sell a different version of the same plan–this time broken up into pieces of taxing and spending still big enough to choke a horse. It’s the same plan, only in different packaging. Former Congressman Ernest Istook explains the danger:

Even segmented versions of Obama’s $447 billion plan can be used to squeeze in those worst parts. That’s because it’s almost impossible to get both the House and the Senate to enact identical versions of a bill, thus requiring a conference committee to “work out the differences”–which sometimes includes adding distasteful details.

While it’s good news that the Senate rejected the President’s jobs plan, the bad news is that the Senate has utterly failed to help put America back on a strong fiscal path. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) point out [2] that it’s been 900 days since Senate Democrats last adopted a formal budget plan, calling it “a national disgrace.”

As required by law, House Republicans presented a budget in committee, brought it to the floor, and passed it earlier this spring. It was an honest, detailed, concrete plan to put our budget on the path to balance and our economy on the path to prosperity. But Senate Democrats, during this time of national crisis, failed even to present a budget plan — in open defiance of the law and the public they serve.

What we have seen from the Obama Administration is bigger government, more regulations, and massive amounts of government spending in the hopes of stimulating the economy. The trouble is that it hasn’t worked, as the numbers show. Obama promised [3] that his $787 billion stimulus would save or create 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010. It didn’t, and given the jobs that were lost, he came up 7.3 million jobs [4] short of his goal. His health care plan, better known as Obamacare, did not reduce health care costs as promised and is in fact responsible for increasing costs in 2011 [5]. On top of that, the law will price many unskilled workers out of full-time employment [6].

And those are just the big-ticket items. Over the last 1,000 days, America has seen increased regulations, a 9,000-earmark omnibus bill, a government union bailout, a Wall Street reform bill that will do more harm than good, a nuclear arms treaty that is detrimental to missile defense, a refusal to expand domestic energy production, federal overreach into education, an undermining of the rule of law, and a dark cloud hanging over our military’s future due to a failure to ensure adequate defense spending.

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal [7], James Freeman writes of an interview with billionaire Mortimer Zuckerman–Democrat, real-estate mogul, and New York Daily News owner. ”Among business executives who supported Barack Obama in 2008, [Zuckerman] says, ‘there is enormously widespread anxiety over the political leadership of the country.’ Mr. Zuckerman reports that among Democrats, ‘The sense is that the policies of this government have failed.’” Given the track record of the Obama Administration over the last 1,000 days, they would be right. Bigger government has not put America on a stronger fiscal path, it hasn’t created jobs, and it hasn’t built a stronger economy.

There is a better way. Heritage’s Saving the American Dream [8] plan charts a course that fixes the debt, cuts spending, and restores prosperity. It redesigns entitlement programs, guarantees assistance to those who need it, and saves the American dream for future generations. If Congress and the President want to move America forward, create new jobs, and spur businesses to grow and invest, then piling on debt, raising taxes, and increasing spending is not the answer–no matter how much Obama would like it to be.

Quick Hits:

  • Several hundred Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested [9] over the weekend after refusing police orders to leave public areas. In Rome, protests turned into riots [9], causing $1.4 million in damage.
  • President Obama helped dedicate [1] the Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial in Washington yesterday. During his speech, Obama said that King would have supported the Occupy Wall Street protests.
  • Despite the continuing protests, only one in three likely voters blames Wall Street for the country’s financial troubles, while 56 percent blame Washington [10], according to a new poll.
  • U.S. stocks were headed for a flat opening Monday [11]. Investors remain nervous over Europe’s debt crisis and are skeptical that leaders can come up with a plan to address it in time for the European Council meeting in Brussels next weekend.
  • PODCAST: Former Attorney General Ed Meese and graduate fellow Marion Smith discuss the Constitution [12] and providing for the common defense. Click here to listen. [12]

The President of Contempt

The President of Contempt

To Barack Obama, America is lovable in proportion to the love it gives him in return.

  • By BRET STEPHENS

Nixon was tricky. Ford was clumsy. Carter was dour. Reagan was sunny. Bush 41 was prudent. Clinton felt your pain. Bush 43 was stubborn. And Barack Obama is . . .

Early in America’s acquaintance with the man who would become the 44th president, the word that typically sprang from media lips to describe him was “cool.”

Cool as a matter of fashion sense—”Who does he think he is, George Clooney?” burbled the blogger Wonkette in April 2008. Cool as a matter of political temperament—”Maybe after eight years of George W. Bush stubbornness, on the heels of eight years of Clinton emotiveness, we need to send out for ice,” approved USA Today’s Ruben Navarrette that October. Cool as a matter of upbringing—Indonesia, apparently, is “where Barack learned to be cool,” according to a family friend quoted in a biography of his mother.

The Obama cool made for a reassuring contrast with his campaign’s warm-and-fuzzy appeals to hope, change and being the ones we’ve been waiting for. But as the American writer Minna Antrim observed long ago, “between flattery and admiration there often flows a river of contempt.” When it comes to Mr. Obama, boy does it ever.

We caught flashes of the contempt during the campaign. There were those small-town Midwesterners who, as he put it at a San Francisco fund-raiser, “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who are not like them.” There were those racist Republicans who, as he put it at a Jacksonville fund-raiser, would campaign against him by asking, “Did I mention he’s black?” There was the “you’re likable enough, Hillary,” line during a New Hampshire debate. But these were unscripted digressions and could be written off as such.

Bloomberg

Only after Mr. Obama came to office did it start to become clear that contempt would be both a style and method of his  governance. Take the “mess we have inherited” line, which became the administration’s ring tone for its first two years.

“I have never seen anything like the mess we have inherited,” said the late Richard Holbrooke—a man with memories of what Nixon inherited in Vietnam from Johnson—about Afghanistan in February 2009. “We are cleaning up something that is—quite simply—a mess,” said the president the following month about Guantanamo. “Let’s face it, we inherited a mess,” said Valerie Jarrett about the economy in March 2010.

For presidential candidates to rail against incumbents from an opposing party is normal; for a president to rail for years against a predecessor of any party is crass—and something to which neither Reagan nor Lincoln, each of them inheritors of much bigger messes, stooped.

Then again, the contempt Mr. Obama felt for the Bush administration was merely of a piece with the broader ambit of his disdain. Examples? Here’s a quick list:

The gratuitous return of the Churchill bust to Britain. The slam of the Boston police officer who arrested Henry Louis Gates. The high-profile rebuke of the members of the Supreme Court at his 2010 State of the Union speech. The diplomatic snubs, petty as well as serious, of Gordon Brown, Benjamin Netanyahu and Nicolas Sarkozy. The verbal assaults on Wall Street “fat cats” who “caused the problem” of “10% unemployment.” The never-ending baiting of millionaires and billionaires and jet owners and everyone else who, as Black Entertainment Television’s Robert Johnson memorably put it on Sunday, “tried rich and tried poor and like rich better.”

Now we come to the last few days, in which Mr. Obama first admonished the Congressional Black Caucus to “stop complainin’, stop grumblin’, stop cryin’,” and later told a Florida TV station that America was losing its competitive edge because it “had gotten a little soft.” The first comment earned a rebuke from none other than Rep. Maxine Waters, while the second elicited instant comparisons to Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech. They tell us something about the president’s political IQ. They tell us more about his world view.

What is it that Mr. Obama doesn’t like about the United States—a country that sent him hurtling like an American Idol contestant from the obscurity of an Illinois Senate seat to the presidency in a mere four years?

I suspect it’s the same thing that so many run-of-the-mill liberals dislike: Americans typically believe that happiness is an individual pursuit; we bridle at other people setting limits on what’s “enough”; we enjoy wealth and want to keep as much of it as we can; we don’t like trading in our own freedom for someone else’s idea of virtue, much less a fabricated concept of the collective good.

When a good history of anti-Americanism is someday written, it will note that it’s mainly a story of disenchantment—of the obdurate and sometimes vulgar reality of the country falling short of the lover’s ideal. Listening to Mr. Obama, especially now as the country turns against him, one senses in him a similar disenchantment: America is lovable exactly in proportion to the love it gives him in return.

Hence his increasingly ill-concealed expressions of contempt. Hence the increasingly widespread counter-contempt.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com