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STEYN: Talking the talk

The world turns. In Indonesia, the principal of a Muslim boarding school in Tangerang who is accused of impregnating a 15-year-old student says the DNA test will prove that a malevolent genie is the real father.

In New Zealand, a German tourist, Hans Kurt Kubus, has been jailed for attempting to board a plane at Christchurch with 44 live lizards in his underpants.

In Britain, a research team at King's College, London, has declared that the female "G-spot" doesn't exist.

In France, a group of top gynecologists dismissed the findings, asking, "What do you expect if you ask Englishmen to find a woman's erogenous zone?"

But in America, Barack Obama is talking.

Talking, talking, talking. He talked for 90 minutes on the State of the Union. No matter how many geckos you shoveled down your briefs, you still lost feeling in your legs. And still he talked. If you had an erogenous zone before, by the end, it was undetectable even to Frenchmen. But on he talked. As respected poverty advocate and former Sen. John Edwards commented, "After the first hour, even my malevolent genie was back in the bottle."

Like any gifted orator, the president knows how to vary the talk with a little light and shade. Sometimes he hectors, sometimes he whines, sometimes he demands. "We do not quit," he said. Boy, you can say that again!

So he did: "We don't quit. I don't quit," he said. But throughout the chamber, Democrats were quitting. "I quit," says Rep. Marion Berry of Arkansas, declining to run in November. "I quit," says Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, doing likewise. "I quit," says Beau Biden of Delaware, son of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., choosing not to run for his father's seat.

But not Barack Obama. On he went. As National Review Editor Rich Lowry put it after the Massachusetts vote, the public thinks Mr. Obama doesn't get it, and Mr. Obama thinks the public doesn't get it. As he has the microphone, he's gonna keep talking at you until you do get it. The ever tinnier, more perfunctory sophomoric uplift at the start and finish can't conceal the hope-killing, jobs-slaying, soul-sapping message in between, which has been consistent for two years. As President Obama sees it, whatever the problem, the solution is more Washington.

Simply as a matter of internal logic, this is somewhat perplexing. After all, when he isn't blaming George W. Bush, Mr. Obama blames "Washington" - a Washington mired in "partisanship" and "pettiness" and "the same tired battles" and "Washington gimmicks" that do nothing but ensure that our "problems have grown worse." Washington, Mr. Obama tells us, is "unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems."

So let's have more Washington! That raises the question: Does even Mr. Obama listen to his speeches?

The public does - at least to this extent: They understand that when he's attacking the tired old Washington games, he's just playing the game, but when he's proposing the tired old Washington solutions, he means it. That's the only Barack Obama on offer. And everything the president proposes means more debt, which at the level this guy is spending means higher taxes.

Functioning societies depend on agreed rules. If you want to open a business, you do it in Singapore or Ireland because the rules are known to all parties. You don't go to Sudan or Zimbabwe, where the rules are whatever the state's whims happen to be that morning.

That's why Mr. Obama is such a job-killer. Why would a small business take on a new employee? The president is proposing a soak-the-banks tax that could impact access to credit. The House has passed a cap-and-trade bill that could impose potentially unlimited regulatory costs. The Senate is in favor of health care reform that would allow the IRS to seize your assets if you and your employees' health arrangements do not meet the approval of the federal government. Some of these things will pass into law; some of them won't. But all of them send a consistent, cumulative message: There are no rules.

In such an environment, would you hire anyone? Mr. Obama can bury it in half a ton of leaden telepromptered sludge, but the message is clear: more Washington, more regulation, more spending and no rules.

Mr. Obama and the Democrats have decided, in the current cliche, to "double down." What's the endgame here? Mr. Obama gave it away in his student loan "reform" proposals: If you choose to go into "public service," any college loan debts will be forgiven because public service is more noble than the selfish, money-grubbing private sector. C'mon, everybody knows that. So we need to encourage more people to go into public service?

Why? In the past 60 years, the size of America's government work force has increased five times faster than the population. Yet the president says it's still not enough: We have to divert more of our human capital into the government machine. He's explicitly telling you: If you start a business, invent something, provide a service, you're a schmuck. In the America he's building, you'll be working 24/7 till you drop dead to fund an ever-swelling bureaucracy. Mr. Obama's proposals are bold only insofar as few men would offer such a transparent guarantee of disaster: It's the audacity of hopelessness.

Mark Steyn is the author of the New York Times best-seller "America Alone" (Regnery, 2006).

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