As ugly and imperfect as it was, the compromise agreement on the Bush-era Tax Rates reached between the Republicans and Barack Obama hint that maybe he’s having a Bill Clinton epiphany, and ready to move to the center. You can hope, but don’t bet the farm on it.
This is after all the President who vowed to “transform” America. He is the disciple of Saul Alinsky. He is the One committed to “spreading the wealth around” – as in “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” He is the One who sees the Constitution as a “charter of negative liberties” and seeks to “break free from the essential constraints” placed on government by the Founding Fathers. He is the One who jetted around the globe apologizing for American “arrogance.” And, he is the same One who disdained American Exceptionalism and Superpower Status at the U.N. proclaiming that no “nation or group of people” is superior to any other.
Barack Obama is the One that disparages the American Dream, the legacy of past generations that created the greatest economic engine in world history, expanded invention, healthcare, technology, education, standards of living for all Americans and for countless millions globally, and sacrificed blood and treasure to preserve and extend freedom for ourselves, our allies, and the oppressed. He’s the One who sees “greed and recklessness” in the great American free-market economy rather than freedom, opportunity, the individual liberty that was the treasure of our ancestors, and a chance for true earned success. He is the One who charged graduating college seniors to abandon their own aspirations in favor of “our collective dream as a nation” – a collective dream no doubt assigned by him and his band of Central Planners. He is the One who told the students to dismiss concern for the exploding federal budget deficit, suggesting instead that our real national crisis is “our empathy deficit” – we don’t “feel” nearly enough.
The great “Compromise” during the lame duck session aside, this leopard is likely not to change his spots, which means the next two years could be a little rough.
During the four years of Pelosi-Reid, the last two of which included Obama in the White House, the federal debt exploded by more than $5 trillion dollars. Obama’s own accountants tell us to brace for trillions more. So the debt-horse has long since broken out of the barn. Catching the racing beast and turning it around will be a monumental task with a Democrat majority still in the Senate, and two more years of Barack in the White House. Obama has feigned a concern for attacking the deficit, but his inclination is to do it by taxing more while continuing his war on the same free-market economy that he claims to be trying to restore. That’s a very conflicted strategy, at best.
Akin to getting the economy going is the challenge to really start to see positive private sector job growth. The unemployment rate remains frozen at nearly 10%, and weekly jobless claimsstuck above 400,000 without anyone predicting significant improvement in the short term. Private sector job growth still lags well behind even the number of new entrants into the job market, so things have to improve significantly just to tread water. In the new Congress, Republicans should at least be in a position to squelch any more job killing super-legislation like ObamaCare, the Stimulus, and the new Financial Regulations.
The world is more dangerous than it was two years ago, and Barack Obama offers little confidence that he is capable of dealing with the challenges. Iran is racing to get a nuclear bomb; something Israel is not likely to let them do. North Korea already has one, and seems intent on picking a fight with South Korea. Iraq is better, but fragile. Gen. Petraeus and our troops are on the offensive in Afghanistan, but even after nearly a decade there, the path and outcome are anything but certain. Al Qaeda continues to evolve with terror cells erupting from new locations. Most recently, the threats originating from the Arabian Peninsula are increasingly ominous. Attempted terrorist attacks on our homeland – once unthinkable – have become far too routine and frequent.
The southern border with Mexico is a lawless, mob infested war zone where residents have been forced to flee as refugees and U.S. agents are attacked and murdered. Yet, our delusional President tells us the border is “more secure” than it has been in decades. Instead of defending the homeland, government resources are dedicated to prosecuting Arizona for doing the federal government’s job and protecting her citizens. Meanwhile, Obama’s Administration considers a plan to implement amnesty with a “non-legislative solution” to completely bypass the need for Congressional authorization.
The American people continue to oppose ObamaCare, and scores of new members will be sworn into Congress in January who campaigned on a pledge to repeal the massive attempt to seize the 16% of the economy represented by the health care industry. The Virginia District Court decision finding the cornerstone “mandate” provision of the legislation to be unconstitutional was a blow – but, far from fatal. Obama isn’t going to go quietly on what he intends to be his life’s legacy, and will use every power of his office – including judicial nominations and influence – to affect the eventual outcome.
Obama has clear contempt for the private sector in general, but a real visceral disregard for the energy industry. Regardless of his inability to pass his favored Cap-and-Trade legislation in Congress, Obama is committed to waging war against the oil, natural gas, and coal industry by fiat through regulatory strong arm tactics. The EPA is aggressively moving to imposecrippling Cap-and-Trade emissions requirements. Within days of taking office, Sec. of Interior Ken Salazar unilaterally cancelled energy development leases on more than 100,000 acres of western federal lands. When the Deep Horizon Well exploded last spring, Salazar rushed to impose a drilling moratorium that drained $2 billion and 12,000 jobs from the struggling gulf coast economy. Earlier this month he announced a 7 year ban on drilling in huge areas of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, a move sure to destroy tens of thousands more jobs, increase both the cost of energy and even greater dependence on foreign sources – one place on the planet where jobs might actually be created as a result of the Obama Administration’s policies.
There’s more but you get the point.
Obama made raising taxes on the “wealthy” a concrete refrain of his campaign, and he certainly never wavered during the first two years of his Presidency. So, there is reason for Republicans and conservatives to claim some degree of victory in getting him to back off. But, in reality, he didn’t give up, he just retreated to reload and fight on through the 2012 campaign.
Barack Obama is smart. He knows his political capital account drained considerably in recent months, and regardless of the public expressions, he understood the message of the election. He knows he has more capital to spend with his Democrat base than with disaffected Independents that supported his election in 2008, but moved against Democrats and his agenda in 2010. He also knows that extending the tax cuts along with the natural resilience of the American people are likely to lead to some good economic news in the coming months, and no one will benefit more than him by a turn around.
Rather than a political epiphany and an ideological awakening, the last couple of weeks are Obama’s calculated efforts to stop the bleeding of his favorability ratings, particularly with independent voters, and maintain reasonable relevance in the eyes of the electorate. He knows the next election is more than 700 days off and re-election is the real prize.
A leopard isn’t successful every time he goes hunting. He doesn’t have to win every contest; just often enough to sustain himself and endure. But, he is patient. As he stalks his prey, he is cunning, disguising his real intentions, and even hiding in the weeds. He’ll wear down his target; get them distracted, complacent, and confused. But, he never changes who he is, or his ultimate objective. His world is the ultimate zero-sum game; the winner takes all.
More than anything, Barack Obama does like to win. Keep and eye on the spotted leopard.