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LAMBRO: Speak softly and carry a big golf stick

Obama trades leadership for the links

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 14, 2013

President Obama has fled the White House for the peace and serenity of the beaches and golf links of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts leaving behind a mess of polls with failure written all over them.

In the sweltering dog days of August, Mr. Obama has left town for a one-week vacation, hoping to escape the many troubles that plague his presidency: a declining economy, his job-approval polls in a nose dive, and the latest news that the vast majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the country's direction under his policies.

A Gallup Poll this week shows his job-approval marks falling to the low 40s, and "three-quarters of Americans are now dissatisfied" with our country's direction, up sharply from 68 percent in July.

While the news media seem to remind us almost hourly that the Republicans are also unpopular, Gallup's pollsters find that public satisfaction with the Democrats (the people who kill all those House GOP budget cuts) has sunk 7 points in this month alone to 37 percent. "At 22 percent, U.S. satisfaction with the direction of the country is the lowest Gallup has seen since March," the polling organization reported Tuesday.

Mr. Obama may be able to temporarily run from his failing grades, but he can't hide from them. More than half of all Americans now disapprove of the job he is doing, and it's not hard to see why.

The economy is not getting stronger in the fifth year of his presidency — it's getting weaker, growing in the last three months by a little more than 1 percent. "We're still very much living through what amounts to a low-grade depression," writes New York Times economist Paul Krugman, one of Mr. Obama's earliest supporters.

Americans are suffering from the dearth of good paying, full-time jobs. "Since January, 833,000 more Americans reported working part time," while almost 100,000 fewer Americans "have full-time positions," says economist Peter Morici.

Having trouble finding a job? Millions of Americans say they can't find one in Mr. Obama's economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 240,000 adults left the labor force and stopped looking for work in July.

Black unemployment was 12.6 percent and Hispanic unemployment is nearly 10 percent. Mr. Obama doesn't talk about this, which may be why he doesn't vacation in his home state of Illinois, where more than 9 percent are out of work.

Throw in higher rents across the country, an average of $3.60 for a gallon of regular gas, a declining stock market that's shrinking workers' retirement funds, and one can understand why Americans aren't happy with this president.

The war on terrorism isn't going so well, either. Indeed, Mr. Obama dropped President Bush's "war on terrorism" when he became president, hoping to reach out and make nice with the Muslim world.

When that didn't work in his first four years, he ran for re-election insisting al Qaeda was "on the run" and that its terrorist ranks have been "decimated." But events over the past year tell a far different story. Al Qaeda has expanded its reach throughout the Middle East and across North Africa and stepped up its presence and a much more lethal offensive in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Instead of being "decimated," al Qaeda leaders have been lobbing threats of attacks against the United States, forcing the White House to shut down nearly 20 embassies abroad, and putting us on a higher alert here at home.

The growing terrorist threat under Mr. Obama's policies of retreat and retrenchment doesn't stop there. In a front-page story Tuesday, The Washington Post ran this headline: "Al Qaeda's Iraq affiliate expands presence in Syria."

"A rebranded version of Iraq's al Qaeda affiliate is surging onto the front lines of the war in neighboring Syria, expanding into territory seized by other rebel groups and carving out the kind of sanctuaries that the U.S. military spent more than a decade fighting to prevent in Iraq and Afghanistan," the newspaper reported.

Does this sound like al Qaeda is "on the run"?

Mr. Obama assumed the presidency with a foolish laundry list of failed liberal ideas, thinking he could revive the American economy if he spent enough money on a 1930s-style agenda of public-works projects and other federal spending programs. The result was about $6 trillion in higher debt that didn't restore the economy and unemployment to prerecession levels. In the fifth year of his failed presidency, hiring is still "sluggish" and the recovery is still "tepid," to quote the latest newspaper headlines.

Congress is in no mood to spend more money on his shell-game economics that would only throw good money after bad. It's clear that his latest big-spending proposals are going nowhere for the rest of his presidency.

Mr. Obama seems to know this, but won't admit it in public. Last month, he meekly proposed linking new tax reforms to more spending on his jobs programs. Republican leaders rejected his proposal out of hand.

Now he's become a speech president, delivering "major" addresses around the country, but with no really new ideas or proposals to restore our country to its former greatness.

America is in decline. Confidence in our once-powerful economy is eroding. Americans are dispirited and unhappy about our country's course. We have lost our way.

A new direction awaits a future president with a vision of a newly ascendant, wealth-creating America.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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