Barack Obama really is a study in contrasts, such as aloof and omnipresent. He's never fully present and he won't leave. He speaks constantly, endlessly, but always seems to be withholding his true thoughts and plans. He was the candidate of hope and change, of "Yes, we can," but the mood of his governance has been dire, full of warnings, threats, cliffs and ceilings, full of words like suffering and punishment and sacrifice."Aloof and omnipresent" is an apt description of this absentee POTUS. He is like Clinton---an eternal campaigner. Yet he has no close confidants, except perhaps Valerie Jarrett and Reggie Love, his "body man." More Noonan:
It's always the language of zero-sum, of hardship that must be evenly divided, of constriction and accusation.
It's all so frozen, so stuck. Just when America needs a boost, some faith, a breakthrough.Mr. Obama is making the same mistake he made four years ago. We are in a jobs crisis and he does not see it. He thinks he's in a wrestling match about taxing and spending, he thinks he's in a game with those dread Republicans. But the real question is whether the American people will be able to have jobs.
On the plane home I read a piece by Mort Zuckerman, who's emerged as one of the most persuasive and eloquent critics of the president's economic policy. The unemployment picture is worse than people understand, he explained in U.S. News & World Report. The jobless rate, officially 7.7%, is almost twice that if you include those who have stopped looking, work part time, or are only "marginally attached" to the workforce. "The labor force participation rate . . . has dropped to the lowest level since 1984," Mr. Zuckerman noted. "It is harder to find work today than it has been in any previous recession."There's a good case to be made that The Dowager Empress Pelosi tricked Obama into the fraud that is ObamaCare----no committee hearings, no 72 hours to even read the thousand-plus compendium of absurdities that Sebelius and her Orcs compiled for a 218-217 vote which the Senate under doddering old codger Harry Reid rushed through with a "reconciliation" vote which the Senate parliamentarian ruled was technically illegal. Noonan avoids the leaves on the trees and goes straight to a U2's eye view of the forest: What a mess.
Meanwhile, the president is stuck in his games and his history. He should have seen unemployment entering a crisis stage four years ago, and he did not. At that time I was certain he'd go for public-works projects, which could give training to the young and jobs to the experienced underemployed, would create jobs in the private sector and, in the end, yield up something needed—a bridge, a strengthened power grid. He instead gave his first term to health care. And now ObamaCare is being cited as a reason employers are laying people off and not hiring, according to a report from the Federal Reserve.
Conservative media should stop taunting the president because he spent the past month warning of catastrophe if the sequester kicks in, and the catastrophe hasn't happened. It hasn't happened yet. He can make it happen. He runs the federal agencies. He can decide on a steady drip of catastrophe—food inspectors furloughed on the 15th, long lines at the airport on the 18th, sobbing children missing Head Start on the 20th, civilian contractors pointing to a rusting U.S.S. Truman on the 25th.Obama rolls toward convincing the 'low information voter' that those Big Bad Republicans are on the prowl to grab back some of the failed programs like Head Start from the spending trough so they can finance their 'executive jets and expensive yachts." He's aiming to take the House from the hapless GOP in 2014.
He can let them happen one after another, like little spring shoots of doom. And it probably won't look planned and coordinated, it will look spontaneous and inevitable.
And you have to assume that's the plan, because that's kind of how he rolls
But what is the sequester about? At the end of the day it's about fewer jobs or fewer hours. In the midst of what is already a jobs crisis.But wait, there's an old game still being played at the Casino of Catastrophe orchestrated by careerist adventurers trying to boost their own profile while pretending to speak for the newly-branded centrist people's president.
Right now his attention has turned to dinner with Republican senators and meetings with members of both parties on Capitol Hill. He is trying to show, after a hit in the polls, that he can reach out. He's trying to convince America he's capable of making a deal.
The new engagement may work if in the past few days the president has changed his political style, approach and assumptions. But people don't usually change overnight. On the other hand there's plenty of reason for him to make a cosmetic reach-out in order to show that whatever happens it's not really his fault, and if the sequester causes pain at least the responsibility is shared. He didn't stiff the opposition, he treated them to lamb at the Jefferson Hotel.
It is interesting that almost at the same time as the dinner the president's people once again begun warning of doom. A blast email from Organizing for Action, signed by Stephanie Cutter, used these words: "Devastating," "obstructionism," "destructive," "this is real." It claimed 100,000 "teaching jobs" will be cut, along with "70,000 spots for preschoolers in Head Start, $43 million for food programs for seniors, $35 million for local fire department," and nutritional assistance for "over half a million women and their families." All this because of loopholes "for millionaires and billionaires" who want their "yachts and corporate jets."The leopard has not changed his spots. He's just aloof and omnipresent with a slightly different hue of blue.
They aren't dropping the Frighten Everyone strategy.
Their whole approach is still stoke and scare—stoke resentment and scare the vulnerable into pressuring Republicans.