Obama Failing His Biggest Test
I should be flattered, I suppose, that last week's column had generated 59 comments as of Monday morning.
Of course, as seems to be usual in such matters, the comments fairly quickly went off the rails and a fair number of them ended up dealing with the proper payee for your income tax check, the IRS or the U.S. Treasury. (Treasury is the correct answer.)
I'd like to drag the discussion back to my original topic: the failure of Barack Obama to act presidential. I do this because my column last week was written before Mr. Obama heaved his dead-on-arrival proposal for both tax and spending increases into an already hopelessly polarized debate.
I spent the weekend fighting the flu and trying to find a word a couple of levels beyond arrogant. I'm feeling better now, but I still haven't found the word. I guess arrogant will have to do.
I understand why this president was elected twice: Republicans are in disarray, their candidates ran poor campaigns, Democrats have mastered modern media, George Bush.
In a year that offered a chance to regain the Senate, these same Republicans managed to lose seats by nominating candidates whose brains apparently were not connected to their mouths.
So. We are where we are. Somehow, Mr. Obama seems to have interpreted the Republicans' ineptitude as a mandate to impose his vision of America on the country. He apparently wants the country to believe, and worse, believes himself, that grandstanding over the resolution of the fiscal cliff will endear him even further to his base and force Republicans to agree to higher taxes without any guaranteed spending reductions.
There cannot possibly be a cognizant citizen remaining of any political persuasion who does not understand that the United States is headed for a fiscal train wreck at an accelerating rate. The fault for that does not rest exclusively with Mr. Obama; it rests with 50 years of Congresses and state and local governments that turned unimaginable postwar prosperity into unkeepable promises made to their own generation. We are now going to have to break many of those promises.
There is only one officeholder in the land who can take on the challenge of explaining the need for this and leading the way to a resolution: the president. This job falls to Mr. Obama because we are approaching a full-blown crisis on his watch, albeit at least partly self-imposed.
I am not referring to the relatively simple resolution of the fiscal cliff. That is child's play compared with dealing with the $16 trillion national debt and the $86 trillion (yes, trillion) of currently unfunded public pension liabilities throughout the country.
Where is the president? He continues to pretend that simply taxing the wealthy more will solve everything. That is so far from the truth that it would be laughable if anything going on in Washington were funny.
That the president cannot turn the tide alone is no surprise; Congress and the increasingly obvious failings in our system of government will make certain of that. But that he should take an actively obstructive position is unforgivable.
Like it or not, and I don't, he is my president too. I'm sure the feeling would be reciprocated if the opportunity arose. Doesn't matter; he has an obligation to me, just as to the looniest liberal.
If I were a POW or a prisoner of terrorists somewhere, would his first offer be, "Let the Democrats go now and we'll talk about everybody else next year"? I hope not, but I'm not sure.
Today is Dec. 7. I had thought to write about Pearl Harbor in a commemorative vein and try to make the case that it was the single most unifying event in our history. I can remember as a child in the '50s that, even then, a mention of that attack would set patriotic juices flowing.
How ironic is it that, over 70 years later, the attack on America comes from within, at our own hand, and the most powerful officer in our government is guiding its way.
Fred Wolferman lives in Southern Pines. Contact him by email at fwolferman@ sbcglobal.net.
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