All presidents, Republican and Democrat alike, trim the facts and coin an occasional “factoid,” Norman Mailer’s memorable description of something that looks like a fact, sounds like a fact, but in fact is not a fact. Barack Obama has raised the art to science.
The theme of his latest press conference, held just before he took off for a Hawaii vacation with a stop en route to console the families of victims of the massacre in San Bernardino, whom he had largely ignored, was all but delusional. That’s a frightening adjective to throw at a president of the United States. But this time it fits.
He says that “since taking this office, I’ve never been more optimistic about a year ahead than I am right now.” The people who elected him, by and large, share no such optimism. How could they? He betrayed this attempt at sunny optimism with his new accusation that Donald Trump criticizes him only because he’s the first black president. That old dog won’t any longer hunt.
He says he created millions of jobs during his seven years in office, but to what extent his administration’s policies have contributed to the slow recovery is at best debatable. The Labor Department’s “creative accounting” of the raw unemployment figures is remarkably inventive. Nearly everyone knows someone in the vast number of men and women who quit trying to find a job because there were none. The slow recovery came about because, from the depth of the financial crisis of 2007-08, there was no place to go but up.
His rosy claims for Obamacare are bogus. Some Americans bought into Obamacare because they had to, or pay severe penalties. Tens of thousands of employers have limited hiring workers so they won’t be forced into the spider web of Obamacare. Hundreds of thousands have seen their old insurance canceled, rendering the president’s famous assurance that “if you like your insurance, you can keep it,” nothing more than a cruel lie. It’s not clear that the growth of medical costs is as much a function of expanding technology as it is of inflation, but what is clear is that medical costs are strangling the American middle class.
Mr. Obama continues to exploit climate change, refusing to acknowledge that there are two complicated arguments about climate “science.” The climate, of course, changes. No one disputes that. The weather has always changed. It always will. The other, much more debatable argument, is the extent to which human activity significantly affects that change. The Paris meeting he boasts of, concluded with 200 nations signing on to a recognition of climate change, but the thrust of his climate policy, to get everyone to cut emissions, failed miserably.
The president continues to insist that he has an agreement with Iran to halt their development of weapons of mass destruction. Various officials high in the Iranian regime have repeatedly said there is no agreement. At the very moment he repeated his claim, the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, which had tried unsuccessfully to pin down the mullahs in Tehran, conceded that it had failed to detect earlier movement toward building nuclear weapons. The mullahs, as if mocking the president’s happy talk, tested intercontinental ballistic missiles, which once perfected, will be capable of carrying a nuclear bomb to North America. Such weapons are prohibited by the deal the president so proudly cut with Iran.
Mr. Obama crowed over a compromise he made with Congress to permit oil exports after four decades of laws forbidding them. To get this, to create thousands of new jobs and return American clout in world energy markets, the Republicans agreed to spend new billions on subsidies for the so-called green energies of certain crony capitalists.
These are “accomplishments” only in the president’s fertile imagination, where the skies are never cloudy and factoids rule. The rest of us live on the only planet we have.