- The Washington Times - Monday, July 27, 2009

NOT IN THE MOOD

“This is big, what’s happening,” Peggy Noonan writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

President Obama appears to have misstepped on a major initiative and defining issue. He has misjudged the nation’s mood, which itself is news: He rose from nothing to everything with the help of his fine-tuned antennae. Resistance to the Democratic health care plans is in the air, showing up more now on YouTube than in the polls, but it will be in the polls soon enough,” Miss Noonan said.

“The president, in short, may be facing a real loss. This will be interesting in a number of ways and for a number of reasons, among them that we’ve never seen him publicly defeated before, because he hasn’t been. So we may be entering new territory, with new struggles shaped by new dynamics.

“His news conference the other night was bad. He was filibustery and spinny and gave long and largely unfollowable answers that seemed aimed at limiting the number of questions asked and running out the clock. You don’t do that when you’re fully confident. Far more seriously, he didn’t seem to be telling the truth. We need to create a new national health care program in order to cut down on government spending? Who would believe that? Would anybody?

“The common wisdom the past week has been that whatever challenges health care faces, the president will at least get something because he has a Democratic House and Senate, and they’re not going to let their guy die. He’ll get this or that, maybe not a new nationalized system, but some things, and he’ll be able to declare some degree of victory.

“And this makes sense. But after the news conference, I found myself wondering if he’d get anything.”

ILLITERATE?

“Is President Obama an economic illiterate?” Fred Barnes asks in the Weekly Standard.

“Harsh as that sounds, there’s growing evidence he understands little about economics and even less about economic growth or job creation. Yet, as we saw at last week’s presidential press conference, he’s undeterred from holding forth, with seeming confidence, on economic issues,” Mr. Barnes said.

“Obama professes to believe in free-market economics. But no one expects his policies to reflect the unfettered capitalism of a Milton Friedman. That’s too much to ask. Demonstrating a passing acquaintance with free-market ideas and how they might be used to fight the recession - that’s not too much to ask.

“But the president talks as if free-market solutions are nonexistent, and in his mind they may be. Three weeks after taking office, he said only government ‘has the resources to jolt our economy back into life.’ He hasn’t retreated, in words or policies, from that view.

“At his press conference, Obama endorsed a surtax on families earning more than $1 million a year to pay for his health care initiative. This is no way to get the country out of a recession. Like them or not, millionaires are the folks whose investments create growth and jobs - which are, after all, exactly what the president is hoping for.

“Another tax hike - especially on top of the increased taxes on individual income, capital gains, dividends, and inheritances that Obama intends to go into effect in 2011 - is sure to impede investment. It’s an anti-growth measure, as those with even a sketchy grasp of economics know. But Obama doesn’t appear to.

“The president also spoke favorably at the press conference of taxing ‘risky’ ventures by Wall Street investors. It wasn’t clear what risky investments he had in mind. Never mind. Reckless risk-taking is hardly a problem at the moment. It’s the lack of any risk-taking at all by investors that’s holding back the economy.”

CLASS WARFARE

Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom is disturbed over the class-warfare rhetoric coming out of the White House.

“In explaining why it was OK to sock a new 5.4 percent tax on the highest earners in this country - to pay for health care reform - President Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said this: ‘The president believes that the richest 1 percent of this country has had a pretty good run of it for many, many, many years.’

“Ah. So that’s it. The old ‘You’ve had it good enough for long enough’ policy. That’s why a family earning a million dollars a year should now cough up $54,000 of that - in addition to all the other taxes it pays - to cover health care for people who may not pay a penny of new tax themselves,” Mr. Albom said.

“Because, after all, those rich folks have had a pretty good run of it.

“Now, it is not that I don’t think we need health care reform. We do. It is not that the rich should not pay fair taxes. They should.

“But to justify a grossly overweighted tax by saying ‘You people have had it good long enough’ is to engage in the worst and most destructive form of politics: class warfare.

“By making a snarky comment like that, Gibbs suggests that the top 1 percent are a bunch of Bernie Madoffs, that they’ve been scheming their way to riches, evading the system, hiding their money in complicated offshore deals. You know - wink, wink - they’ve had it ‘pretty good.’

“This is every bit as insulting as saying all poor people are lazy welfare cheats. Imagine the uproar if he’d said that. What’s the difference?

“Both are dangerous lies.”

MMMM, BEER

Matt Lewis, in a blog at townhall.com, is glad that beer is finally being recognized for its diplomatic benefits.

“Reuters reports: ‘A prominent black Harvard University scholar has accepted an invitation to have a beer with President Barack Obama and the white police officer who arrested him in a racially charged case.’

“Earlier, President Obama called this whole thing a ‘teaching opportunity’ - so I guess the whole ‘lesson’ to be learned is that … beer solves every problem!” Mr. Lewis said.

“(Pay attention to this, kids).

“Now if he can just get Palestine and Israel to sit down and have a Heineken, his work is done …

“In all seriousness, this could be a good move for Obama. It won’t make people forget what he said, but it will make this specific story go away.

“Just one piece of advice - from personal experience, Mr. President - stop at one beer. One beer could bring these two together - but after a few beers - things could turn ugly again.

“By the way, wasn’t there an episode of ‘The Brady Bunch’ where Mr. Brady solves problems by setting up a boxing ring in the backyard? Nowadays, that would probably be considered politically incorrect.

“Perhaps he should have tried the beer thing?”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com


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