Something unexpected happened along the president’s breezy cruise to re-election. “No drama” Obama is suddenly looking about as calm as Jerry Lewis in a French film, about as brave as Ted Kennedy after an evening drive through Chappaquiddick. Witness Team Obama’s recent panicky behavior.
Obamanomics anxiety. The White House is reeling as its reverse Midas touch to the economy is being exposed. Its own economists acknowledge now that each job created or “saved” by the so-called “stimulus” cost taxpayers a whopping $278,000. This is still fantasyland because there are 1.9 million fewer jobs on record now than on the day the stimulus was signed into law, but nonetheless, the quiet pre-holiday Friday night news dump of an announcement reveals the administration’s worry. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke admitted last month that he’s clueless why America’s economic malaise continues. Tax cheat and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who called President Obama’s budget “unsustainable,” wants to abandon ship along with the rest of the “economic dream team” escapees: Lawrence H. Summers, Christina Romer and Austan Goolsbee. Meanwhile, the president, apparently believing no news is good news, has put his fingers in his ears - “La la la, I cannot hear you” - and, at one point, canceled his daily economic briefings.
Obamacare waivers wild ride. That the White House would exempt its best friends from Obamacare underscores everything you need to know not only about the deeply flawed health care takeover itself but also about the White House’s embrace of cronyism. Team Obama vigorously defended those waivers right up until the moment when political expediency forced the president to wave them goodbye. About 1,400 “Get out of jail free” cards later, he thinks you will forget that his union friends were exempted from the rules you must follow. Parenthetically, look for those waivers to return quietly at some point under a new Obama Ministry of Truth name. Perhaps in accordance with the creative euphemism the administration chose for its Libyan war, it will call them “kinetic medical actions.”
Afghanistan retreat. The “war of necessity” of 2008 has become the retreat of political expediency of 2012, timed oh so conveniently for the eve of the election. Rejecting his own generals’ advice is certainly within a commander in chief’s prerogative, but when the White House falsely claims that the withdrawal plan was offered by Gen. David H. Petraeus when it was not - according to the testimony of Marine Lt. Gen. John R. Allen - the White House reveals its panic. What’s more, the transparent attempt to placate Mr. Obama’s base among the anti-war left rather than reach out to moderates is evidence itself of worry in the White House.
Panic at the pump. Gasoline prices have more than doubled since Mr. Obama took office. While claiming that increasing the oil supply with new drilling won’t affect prices, Economics 101 be dammed the White House offers the window-dressing measure of tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, our emergency backup stockpile. His release of 30 million barrels - a 1—day supply 1/2 is a fraction of the 200-million-barrel annual shortfall his Gulf of Mexico drilling ban has caused. The futility of this gesture underscores the administration’s political desperation at least to be seen as doing something.
Clumsy class warfare. It’s never surprising when liberals segregate Americans into classes for their own political gain. That’s more or less their entire political strategy. Nudge a Democrat in his sleep, and he’s likely to say: “Tax the rich.” (Or maybe, “Bush’s fault.”) What is surprising, however, is how transparently desperate Mr. Obama sounds trying to pull it off. “[I]f we choose to keep a tax break for corporate-jet owners then that means we’ve got to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship.” It’s a desperate president indeed who would have you believe that success among some Americans causes failure for others. The president’s class-warfare remarks are, as Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, describes, “more appropriate for some left-wing strongman than for the president of the United States.”
Biden boot buzz. The rumors that Team Obama will drop Vice President Joseph R. Biden from the 2012 ticket in favor of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are just that - rumors - and will go nowhere, but the interesting point is that they exist at all. Their origin almost certainly lies within insider Democratic circles and reveals two points: (1) no confidence in the gaffetastic vice president (and who can blame them?) and (2) worry that his presence could doom the ticket. Rumors of vice presidents’ imminent departures are nothing new, but they never seem to swell around re-election shoo-ins.
The 2012 election may be the most consequential of our lifetimes, and it’s obviously far too early to predict its results. But that’s the point. The White House has conceded the inevitability factor. The bloom is off the Obama rose, and Team Obama knows it.
Dr. Milton R. Wolf is a board-certified diagnostic radiologist and cousin of President Obama. He blogs daily at MiltonWolf.com.