Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign war room prominently displayed a sign which declared "It's the economy stupid!" James Carville, who coined that legendary reminder to keep one's focus on the most important issue, has apparently forgotten it as he advises the Obama Administration which appears to be more interested in using the financial crisis as a tool to advance their radical agenda.
While nearly every business leader is pleading for Obama's attention on economic issues his top priority the past few weeks has been to attack Rush Limbaugh. It started when Obama told GOP congressional leaders "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done." The attack soon shifted to his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and most recently to Obama's campaign strategist David Plouffe.
These attacks on Limbaugh and other critics are not random events but a coordinated campaign being directed by the White House at the suggestion of James Carville. Does President Obama have nothing better to do?
Wayward "Conservatives" Seeing the Light
The impact of the White House's inept leadership on economic issues has accelerated the drop in Obama's approval rating first started when wayward Republicans and so-called "conservatives" who got hooked on the Hope and Change Kool Aid began to recover from the hangover.
These were the folks who jumped off the GOP ship and onto the Hope and Change parade when it looked like the smart thing to do. They believed Obama's campaign rhetoric and expected him to govern as a centrist. They are only now coming to their senses.
It was a shock to many conservatives when Chris Buckley, the son of the late William F. Buckley Jr. announced he had seen the light and was pulling the lever for Obama. Here's what Chris said in his announcement:
President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.Buckley, who also claimed in the same column to be "a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets" has now come to his senses. About Obama's plans he wonders "[Obama] tells us that all this is going to work because the economy is going to be growing by 3.2 percent a year from now. Do you believe that? Would you take out a loan based on that?"
Next on the turncoat parade is New York Times "conservative" columnist David Brooks. Readers may recall Brooks was an early admirer of Obama. He too appears to be over the hopey-changey hangover:
Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was. His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice.Sadly, Brooks, who is no fan of Limbaugh, still believes the best plan forward would be a revolution of moderates. Can anyone point to a time when that's worked?
Democrat Business Leaders Bailing Out Too?
And who can forget early Obama backers like billionaire Warren Buffet? Obama embraced his support in an effort to ease voter's concerns about his lack of experience in leading on economic issues:
"On economic policy, I associate with Warren Buffett and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker ... who have shaped my ideas and who will be surrounding me in the White House." Barack Obama (Monica Langley, "Volcker Makes A Comeback As Part Of Obama Brain Trust," The Wall Street Journal, 10/21/08)Here's some of what the Sage from Omaha had to say about Obama's leadership in a recent interview:
BUFFETT: Now, just rephrase that and since it's, in my view, it's an economic war, and--I don't think anybody on December 7th would have said a `war is a terrible thing to waste, and therefore we're going to try and ram through a whole bunch of things and--but we expect to--expect the other party to unite behind us on the--on the big problem.' It's just a mistake, I think, when you've got one overriding objective, to try and muddle it up with a bunch of other things.
Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, another Obama backer had this to say:
The Obama administration has given way to growing worry and frustration. I find myself wringing my hands, not over the goals President Obama has set but over the ineffectual ways the administration has pursued them.Elected Democrats Wavering
I believe by now, the people are eager for the administration to rein in chaos. But this is not happening.
Until the administration does this, we should not embark on attempting to fix another major part of the economy.
While avoiding any direct criticism of Obama's leadership some Democrats are expressing concern with Obama's apparent indifference to the same big spending Washington ways he ran against.
Senators Russ Feingold and Evan Byah were outspoken in their opposition to the pork laden omnibus spending bill which Obama signed in secret this week. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Byah went as far as to suggest that Obama's "fiscal credibility" was at stake since he had run against earmarks.
On the House side, cracks in the wall of Democrat unity were evident early on as a handful of members joined Republicans in bipartisan opposition to the stimulus bill. In fact, the only bipartisan aspect of that bill in the House was the oppostion.
Now, more cracks in the latest round coming from House Democrats like Jane Harman (D-CA) who said: "The hardest part of this is Congress' digestive tract, which is rather challenged. We're not used to this," referring to the crisis atmosphere and attempt to ram all kinds of legislation through before the American people are fully aware of what is happening.
"News" Media Seeing the Light?
Perhaps the biggest shift of opinion has occurred in the "news" media where, like many above, the hopey-changey hangover is just about over.
Financial pundit Jim Cramer was happy to jump on the Obama bandwagon when it was feel good rhetoric about hope and change. He fell off that wagon in spectacular fashion when he realized Obama was "following a radical agenda" that led to the "greatest destruction of wealth by a President."
For this heresy, Cramer was attacked by the White House and dismissed as someone who was rarely correct in his market analysis. But it would seem that Cramer's inability to see through Obama's smoke and mirrors early on was a bigger liablity than his current opinions which are widely shared.
Like many Obama supporters writer Camille Paglia feels torn about what is happening. She has yet to connect the dots to the man himself but she's almost there:
Free Barack!Disappointment between what Obama said during the campaign and his actions now is very troubling to the "news" media that drunk the Hopey-Changey Kool Aid. Michael Scherer writing at Time Magazine's blog Swampland:
Yes, free the president from his flacks, fixers and goons -- his posse of smirky smart alecks and provincial rubes, who were shrewd enough to beat the slow, pompous Clintons in the mano-a-mano primaries but who seem like dazed lost lambs in the brave new world of federal legislation and global statesmanship.
Heads should be rolling at the White House for the embarrassing series of flubs that have overshadowed President Obama's first seven weeks in office and given the scattered, demoralized Republicans a huge boost toward regrouping and resurrection.
"The McCain campaign would much rather have the story about phony and foolish diversions than about the future. . . . We have real problems in this country right now and the American people are looking to us for answers, not distractions, not diversions, not manipulations." -- Barack Obama, Norfolk, Va., September 10, 2008The idea that Obama would govern as a centrist is now in the process of being discarded completely. Don't say we didn't warn you:
President Obama won the presidency by promising to be a different, more substantive, less gimmicky leader. He said he would not waste our time on "phony outrage," like fulminations on the meaning of "lipstick on a pig," or silly characters like "Joe The Plumber," a guy who was actually named Samuel and was not even a licensed plumber. No, Obama said he was going to solve problems instead.
At a time of unprecedented threats to the United States, a time of financial collapse, bank failures and record layoffs, at a time when the credit crisis has not been solved, and the stock market is in free fall, at a time of stagnating wars, rising terrorism in Pakistan and growing nuclear potential in Iran, the White House has done the easy thing. It has asked the American people to focus their attention not on solving the problems, but on a big-mouthed entertainer in Florida. This may be smart politics. But it is also the same petty strategy that John McCain employed during the presidential campaign, the one that our new president promised to rise above.
Clive Crook writing in the Finacial Times:
If Mr Obama were a centrist he would be positioning himself to the right of the congressional Democrats, with a plan to be walked back in their direction. In fact, his budget has delighted the left of his party. Far from pulling him to the centre, most Democrats will resist that move if he tries. Or am I missing something?Stuart Taylor at National Journal:
Obama's Left Turn
Centrists fear that the president's budget reveals his liberal leanings.
Having praised President Obama's job performance in two recent columns, it is with regret that I now worry that he may be deepening what looks more and more like a depression and may engineer so much spending, debt, and government control of the economy as to leave most Americans permanently less prosperous and less free.
Other Obama-admiring centrists have expressed similar concerns.
The house is burning down. It's no time to be watering the grass.
Obama's inability to live up to his campaign promises to control spending seem to bother some liberal pundits more than his leftward lurch.
This from Maureen Dowd at the New York Times:
In one of his disturbing spells of passivity, President Obama decided not to fight Congress and live up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign.And one wonders how Andrew Sullivan feels for being taken for a sucker:
Team Obama sounds hollow, chanting that “the status quo is not acceptable,” even while conceding that the president is accepting the status quo by signing a budget festooned with pork.
We are being presented with what can only be described as a massive increase in government spending and power with the only fiscal balance being wringing much more money from the successful. The president predicted a tight budget and spending control in his non-SOTU, and he appealed to fiscal conservatives by promising a long-term attack on entitlement spending. I see nothing here yet that fulfills that promise.Even Paul Krugman, the New York Times resident Bush hater is concerned:
Among people I talk to there's a growing sense of frustration, even panic, over Mr. Obama's failure to match his words with deeds. The reality is that when it comes to dealing with the banks, the Obama administration is dithering. Policy is stuck in a holding pattern.Every day the list of disillusioned Obama supporters grows and grows. And as it does, Obama's poll approval numbers will continue to worsen as more and more people become aware of just who and what they voted for.
They voted for hope and change and all they got was more of the same failed radical left wing ideas that have already been proven the world over to be the enemies of freedom, prosperity and ultimately peace.