As Mark Twain would have understood, he’s taking us back to the 6th century.
In a seminal speech last week at Carnegie Mellon University, President Obama gave a stunning performance of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. In the novel of that name written by Mark Twain over a century ago, a 19th century American entrepreneur drawn into a barroom brawl is knocked over the head with a crowbar all the way back to the 6th century. Literally.
He awakens sprawled on an English field on June 20, 528, with an English knight pointing a lance straight at his nose. Taken prisoner and hauled off to King Arthur’s court, he is pronounced the sentence of death by burning at the stake the next day at noon, for the pleasure of the capturing knight. But the Boss, as the Yankee is called in the book, remembers that a total eclipse of the sun occurs the next day, June 21, 538, at precisely 12:03 pm. The Boss proclaims to the court that he is a great magician, and rattles his captors by threatening to blot out the sun if they try to harm him. But Merlin assures King Arthur it is an idle threat.
The next day, around noon, the Boss stood in the open courtyard of King Arthur’s castle, before the assembled multitude come to watch the spectacle, chained to a stake surrounded by kindling. The executioner raised a blazing torch, but suddenly froze, petrified. The crowd rose to its feet, gasping. The Boss recounts, in the words of Twain,
I followed their eyes; as sure as guns, there was my eclipse beginning….The rim of black spread slowly into the sun’s disk…and the assemblage stared into the sky motionless. I knew this gaze would be turned upon me, next. When it was, I was ready. I was in one of the most grand attitudes I ever struck, with my arm stretched up pointing to the sun. It was a noble effect.
A panicked King Arthur says to the Boss, “Name any terms, reverend sir, even to the halving of my kingdom; but banish this calamity, spare the sun.” As the darkness spread across the sun, the Boss demands to be named Perpetual Minister and Chief Executive of the Kingdom, sharing in a percentage of all increased revenues. The crowd and the King immediately applaud and embrace the deal.
Similarly, in his speech in Pittsburgh last week, Barack Obama said:
It has now been a little over 16 months since I took office amid one of the worst economic storms in our history. And to navigate that storm, my administration was forced to take some dramatic and unpopular steps. These steps have succeeded in breaking the freefall. We’re again moving in the right direction. An economy that was shrinking at an alarming rate when I became President has now been growing for three consecutive quarters.
Consider exactly what Obama is implying in these words. When he came into office, the economy was in “freefall,” “shrinking at an alarming rate.” It was only because of the “dramatic and unpopular steps” he took that this was stopped, and reversed. Otherwise, without Obama’s miracle Grecian formula elixir, the economy would have continued in freefall, all the way back to the stone age.
This claim is in perfect parallel to the claim by Twain’s Connecticut Yankee that he was blocking out the sun during that solar eclipse on June 21, 528, wowing the Dark Ages yahoos. The economy was never going to remain in freefall absent Obama’s miracle cure innovation of trillion dollar deficits. For centuries now, we have experienced the business cycle in market economies, where the economy goes down, and then recovers. We just don’t remember that anymore because Reaganomics was so successful that it banished the business cycle effectively for a record 25 years, with only 2 short, shallow downturns during that time. Even the official scorekeepers at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) have suggested that the period be considered one continuous, unparalleled expansion.
In fact, since World War II, the U.S. economy has suffered 12 recessions, lasting an average of 10 months. NBER reports 33 business cycles since 1854. The longest during the 75 postwar years, until now, has been 16 months. But here we are today, 30 months since the latest downturn officially began in December 2007, with unemployment still stuck at nearly 10% for months now.
Last Friday’s jobs report for May shows that the agony continues, even though President Obama predicted in his Carnegie Mellon speech that “we expect to see strong job growth in Friday’s report.” Outside the government employment of 411,000 temporary Census workers, Obama’s economy 30 months after the recession began created only 20,000 net new jobs.
More than 10 times that many new jobs are needed each month just to keep unemployment from rising over the long run. The unemployment rate dipped in May only because 322,000 potential workers hopelessly fled the flagging work force. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports, “there were 1.1 million discouraged workers in May, up by 291,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.”
The BLS further reported that the army of the unemployed persisted at 15 million Americans in May. Nearly 7 million remained long-term unemployed for more than 6 months, another postwar record. African Americans continued to suffer depression level unemployment under Obama at 15.5%. The teenagers who supported him have similarly been punished with continuing 26.4% unemployment. Ditto Hispanics at 12.4%.
Herbert Obama’s Great Depression
The magical economic policies of Obama the Magnificent have served only to delay and slow recovery. Given the severity of the recession, the recovery should exhibit booming growth for at least the first year. But the three quarters of growth President Obama touted have displayed less than half the growth in the first three quarters of the 1983 recovery, from the last recession of similar magnitude. Obama’s three growth quarters came after 18 months of decline, which would be a postwar record recession in itself. But in an April, 2010 statement, the NBER concluded that it cannot yet identify the end of the recession.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online