The Right Opinion

Obama Buys the Drinks That Other Guys Pay for

By Michael Barone · Sep. 12, 2011

What is there to say about Barack Obama’s speech to Congress Thursday night and the so-called American Jobs Act he said Congress must pass? Several thoughts occur, all starting with P.

Projection. That’s psychologist-speak term for projecting your own faults on others. “This isn’t political grandstanding,” Obama told members of Congress, as Republicans snickered (but thankfully resisted the temptation to shout, “You lie!”). “This isn’t class warfare.”

These sentences came four paragraphs after Obama insisted that “the most affluent citizens and corporations” should pay more taxes (which spurs job creation how?) and not long before he promised to “take that message to every corner of the country.”

Lest there be an doubt about Obama’s real intentions, consider that his speech was obviously modeled on Harry Truman’s call for a special session of the Republican Congress in the summer of 1948 so he could campaign against it. And consider that Obama pointedly refused to rebuke Jim Hoffa’s “let’s take these sons of bitches out” – meaning Republicans – when he introduced him last Monday in Detroit.

Pragmatism. Perceptive writers like David Brooks of The New York Times told us in 2008 that Obama was basically a pragmatist, a slave to no ideology but simply a student of what works. Brooks was apparently impressed by Obama’s mention of Edmund Burke and the sharp crease in his pants.

But a pragmatist would probably not choose to call for more of the policies that plainly haven’t worked. Infrastructure spending (shovel ready, anyone?), subsidies of teachers' salaries, fixing roofs and windows on schools – these were all in the 2009 stimulus package, which has led to the stagnant economy we have today.

A pragmatist doesn’t keep pressing the same garage door button when the garage door doesn’t open. He gets out of the car and tries to identify what’s wrong.

Paid for. “Everything in this bill,” Obama said in his eighth paragraph, “will be paid for. Everything.”

By whom? Well, in the 24th paragraph he tells us that he is asking the 12-member super-committee Congress set up under the debt ceiling bill to add another $450,000,000,000 or so to the $1,500,000,000,000 in savings it is charged to come up with. The roving camera showed the ordinarily hardy super-committee member Sen. Jon Kyl looking queasy.

Obama is like the guy in the bar who says, “I’ll stand drinks for everyone in the house,” and then adds, “Those guys over there are going to pay for them.”

What’s fascinating here is that once again the supposedly pragmatic and sometimes professorial president is not making use of the first class professionals in the Office of Management and Budget to come up with specifics, but is leaving that to members of Congress, maybe in a midnight marathon session with deadlines pending. Same as on the stimulus package and Obamacare.

Pathetic promises. Perhaps he hoped people wouldn’t notice, but Obama did put in two words – “faster trains” – as a plug for his pet project of high-speed rail. Liberal blogger Kevin Drum calls California’s HSR project, the largest in the nation, “a fantastic boondoggle,” likely to cost three or four times estimates and with ridership estimates that are “fantasies.” “We have way better uses for this dough,” Drum concludes.

Political payoffs. Nearly one-quarter of this latest stimulus package – sorry, American Jobs Act – is aid to state and local government, to keep teachers and other public employee union members on the job and paying dues to the unions. Altogether unions gave Democrats some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle. Pretty good return on their “investment,” eh?

Pettifoggery. Obama impressed many conservative writers in 2008 with his ability to state their positions in fair terms – which led some to think that surely he must agree with them. But he seems to have lost this knack.

Conservatives, according to this speech, want to “wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades” and “simply cut most government spending and eliminate most government regulations.”

“Most” means more than 50 percent. Does the White House have documentation for the claim that Republicans want to cut government spending by more than 50 percent? And what “basic protections” do they want to “wipe out”?

Barack Obama seemed like an unhappy warrior Thursday night, still unreconciled to the results of the 2010 elections, “seeming desperate and condescending at the same time,” in the words of maverick liberal blogger Mickey Kaus. That darn garage door just won’t open!

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10 Comments

Ct-Tom in NC said:

Thanks, Michael. Great column.Does anyone keep track of how much it costs for BO to travel to "every corner of the country?" It may be that other presidents have done the same (campaigning and calling it otherwise), but I'd like to see the data. This guy spends more time on AF-1 than he does in the Oval Office.

Monday, September 12, 2011 at 8:23 AM

PDK said:

The only need for shovel ready jobs in this country is in Washington DC, there is so much BS coming out of the Obama administration that surely it will take decades, perhaps scores of years to clean up his mess.His cronism extends into the realm of public unions, the public unions care only about themselves at the exsence of other Americans. The teachers they represent are now more concerned about how much they get out of teaching than what they put into teaching. Our children do worse and worse compared with students in foriegn lands.If America re elects this anti American socialist, it will reflect the immaturity, and the sorry state of our enfranchised citizery, which in turn augurs poorly for Americas longevity.If Obama is re elected our culture, without much doubt, will go the way of the dinosuar, into extinction. Thank you.

Monday, September 12, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Kevin from Arkansas in USA said:

"This guy spends more time on AF-1 than he does in the Oval Office." But that doesn't begin to match his time on the links.

Monday, September 12, 2011 at 9:49 AM

Doktor Riktor Von Zhades said:

Der Goot Doktor has a couple of thoughts on the speech.1) Is this going to be another bill that needs to be passed in order to know what's in it?2) Cut Government 50%, great idea! Let's start with the DEO EPA, IRS, (go to flat tax), all gimmies to unions, all foreign aid to nations that hate us, Kick out the UN (aka the Useless Nations), the DOI (Department of indoctrination) Gimmies to "struggling" arteests. (Heck in a nation of 300 million people if they can't sell at least ONE Painting or ONE song, then they need to consider a career change) No more funding of groups like NPR, Et al. I don't know of that's 50% or not, maybe only a drop in the bucket, but hey,,,it's a start.

Monday, September 12, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Richard Ryan said:

Michael, you stated that "Thankfully no one stood up and shouted You Lie".In my opinion you should have said Sadly no one stood up and shouted You Lie.If I had my way every Republican would have carried a Gibson guitar into the meeting and every time Obama stated that he was going to create jobs, they would have waved the guitars in the air and shouted You Lie.And yes the US debt that Obama is creating will be paid for by our children and grandchildren, long after Obama is just lingering bad taste in the citizens mouths.Richard RyanLamar,Missouri - Birthplace of Harry S Truman

Monday, September 12, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Bill said:

Here's a stimulating suggestion: Let's gather up as many "Obama/Biden 2008" campaign signs and posters as we can and stencil onto them the words "Not Shovel Ready." Bet we sell millions and thus create or save millions of jobs.

Monday, September 12, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Anthony said:

Bill, you are completely wrong. The Obama/Biden administration is, in fact, all about things that are "shovel ready". Of course, we are referring to the end product of the posterior of a farm animal and not actual projects that will have a positive impact on the U.S. economy... ;) Sorry, I simply could not resist!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 12:01 AM

pete said:

>"Obama is like the guy in the bar who says, "I'll stand drinks for everyone in the house," and then adds, "Those guys over there are going to pay for them."<I used to frequent a place that specialized in serving various adult beverages. One of the owners would come in once or twice a week when the bar was full and announce, "When I drink, everybody drinks!" He'd order a domestic draft while everybody else ordered up what they liked. Once everybody was served he shout, "When I pay, everybody pays!" and run out the door. Didn't take a lot of people long to stop going there. I can't help but wonder when Americans are going to wise up to obama.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 5:12 PM

JJStryder said:

More B.S. from B.O. The only job he wants to save is his own. Clueless and narcissistic doesn't even begin to describe this guy and those who still follow him.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 9:21 AM

GodivaSF said:

I've got a "Jobs Act" for you that would have reversed this economic mess if Obama had followed my plan the day he set foot in the Oval Office.No taxes (and absolutely NO FEES and NO GOVERNMENT SECTOR BORROWING!) except for personal income taxes at the following rate and taxed directly from the individual governments (no redistribution from fed to state--and with a bottom income level exempt so people have something to live on and there is less need for "Safety Net" programs):Federal Personal Income Taxes--5% of Personal IncomeState Taxes--5% of Personal IncomeMunicipal (County/City)--5% of Personal IncomeJobs come from Entrepreneurs, Re-Investment, and Capitalists. Small Business is the fastest Jobs Growth sector and always has been.Jobs (and the corresponding "Wealth of Nations")don't come from government boondoggle programs--only graft and corruption does!

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 2:22 PM