President Obama still doesn't get it. He continues to think the American electorate is merely impatient with the economy rather than scared by his policies, that the economy must be managed by government rather than freed from bureaucratic shackles. He's wrong on all counts.
Tuesday's elections constituted the most stunning rebuke to an incumbent president in 72 years. Republicans campaigning against the Obama agenda gained at least 60 House seats, at least six Senate seats, nine governorships and a large number of state legislative chambers. Exit polls showed a desire for smaller government and repealing Obamacare. At yesterday's press conference, however, the president evaded questions about this tsunami being a strong rebuke to the substance of his leadership.
"We would be misreading the election," Mr. Obama claimed, "if we thought the American people wanted us to spend the next two years relitigating the decisions we made in the past two years." As Democratic pollster Patrick Caddell summed it up for Fox News, "He seemed absolutely tone-deaf." Clearly, the public hates Obama policies.
Across the country, Americans rejected bank bailouts, car-company bailouts, insurance mandates and almost everything else about Obamacare, oil-drilling moratoria and slowdowns and intrusive regulations in every facet of the economy. Americans rejected stimulus packages that - combined - exceed a trillion dollars, as well as trillion-dollar annual deficits. Americans rejected administrative fiat that gives special-interest tax breaks to trial lawyers and allows unions to organize without traditional secret ballots. Americans rejected politicized and race-based "justice" along with the president's radical judicial appointees and leftist social agenda, which - among other things - attempts to seed all levels of education with values antithetical to the American tradition.
Americans have come to resent Mr. Obama's denial of American exceptionalism, his kowtowing to this nation's enemies, his diminution of missile defense, his bizarre promotion of Islam throughout American government and his mollycoddling of suspected terrorist detainees. Even after this week's shellacking, the president refuses to listen.
Mr. Obama is right about one thing: The American people are furious about the shape of the economy. And in his press conference, he almost began to sound like he understood the public's message. "The only way America succeeds is if businesses succeed," he said. "We need a free market that is dynamic and entrepreneurial. ..." Then, in the next breath, he ruined it. "That free market has to be nurtured and cultivated," he said. "We must make sure to the business community as well as to the country that we boost and encourage our business sector and make sure they start hiring. We've got plans. ..."
That statement encapsulates exactly what's wrong with Mr. Obama's left-wing approach. The market shouldn't be "nurtured and cultivated" by government; it just needs consistent rules that are clear and unintrusive. Government shouldn't "boost and encourage our business sector" but instead just get out of the way. Government needs to stop foisting "plans" on the economy and leave entrepreneurs free to put their own plans into action.
Americans want their freedom back. Unless President Obama recognizes that central message, he will continue to flail around, rejected by the American people.
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