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BLANKLEY: Looking on the bright side

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2009

OP-ED:

I hate to admit it, but I miss Bill Clinton. At least that lecherous old charmer was more amusing than his successor as a Democratic president, our new mortician-in-chief, Barack "end of the world" Obama.

Still, our new president's spokesman did deliver the funniest line of this so far not-too-funny millennium. Last week Mr. Gibbs said the president - who had in the previous couple of weeks talked about our economy being a catastrophe from which we might never recover - called the president "an eternal optimist."

I appreciate that presidential spokesmen are not always known for their candor. And putting a positive gloss on his boss' image is barely an infraction, given the howlers that have often come from that podium. But really, one prefers one's perfidy to be at least plausible. If our economy in a death spiral is Mr. Obama's upbeat version of events, one can only tremble at what he would sound like when he turns a little glum.

Perhaps it was with those comments in mind that Mr. Clinton took the opportunity - while purportedly complimenting his successor - to advise Mr. Obama he ought to try to be a little more upbeat about the economy.

(One of the more enjoyable entertainments we can look forward to over the next four years will be watching Bill Clinton sneak in little disparaging statements about his successor every time he pretends to compliment him. Bill is obviously being driven nuts by Mr. Obama. After all, as I recall, Mr. Clinton once complained he could have been a great president if only he had a depression or major war to preside over. How envious he must be of Mr. Obama, who may be in the process of turning an economic downturn into a depression and a small war in Afghanistan into a major war in Pakistan. Well, Bill, great men make their own opportunities.)

Nonetheless, things do seem a mite nasty at the moment. And Bill Clinton's advice to be more cheerful reminded me of the closing song in Monty Python's "Life of Brian." Brian, a Christ-like figure in this comedy, had just been nailed to the cross by the Romans and was in the process of dying from his crucifixion, when he broke out in a cheerful little toe-tapping song, part of the lyrics going:

". . . always look on the bright side of life...

"Always look on the light side of life...

"If life seems jolly rotten

"There's something you've forgotten

"And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.

"When you're feeling in the dumps

"Don't be silly chumps

"Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

"So always look on the bright side of death

"Just before you draw your terminal breath."

(Words and music by Eric Idle).

It would be easier to be cheerful if Mr. Obama wasn't telling us this week he is going to put us trillions of dollars in deficit this year pouring money down various rat holes, while saving money by leaving Iraq before victory can be secured, cutting other defense programs, taxing energy, taking a first cut at totally screwing health care (but first expanding health-care entitlements even though we are almost insolvent).

All this, and more, he proposes in order to "get exploding deficits under control" and as an act of "fiscal responsibility." As independent analysts estimate that the universal coverage entitlement to which Mr. Obama aspires will cost $200 billion a year, I would argue that if he wants to stop "exploding deficits," perhaps he could begin by not lighting the fuse of large deficit bombs.

After going nuts borrowing money on which our children will still be paying interest in 2039 (the maturity date for a 30-year Treasury note issued this year), he offers "fiscal responsibility" by his claim to reduce the deficit he has just created by taxing the crap out of business and anyone left with a decent-paying job.

Yes, that's the ticket. Promise to raise taxes on any person and any business that still produces anything while promising to give yet more hundreds of billions to people who are already a burden on working Americans.

Some people claim that although Mr. Obama was born in 1961, and thus is technically a baby boomer - he is really a post-boomer. Just as he is post-racial (while his attorney general calls Americans cowards for not blathering on about race.)

But regretfully Mr. Obama is the very embodiment of my boomer generation. We will go down in history as the generation that was given everything, took everything, and left nothing - except debt, debt, debt.

Tony Blankley is the author of "American Grit: What It Will Take To Survive and Win in the 21st Century" and vice president of the Edelman public-relations firm in Washington.