By all accounts—meaning the New York Times’s and Washington Post’s, I suppose—our president had a terrific month of May, maybe because he nailed Osama bin Laden at its start, had a grand tour of Ireland, England, and a few countries of continental Europe toward month’s end, and this time, amazingly, he appeared happy to represent his country and not just himself. In between he revved up his permanent reelection campaign and then scored a big hit for his Mediscare strategy by engineering a special congressional election win in New York State. In a major speech he expressed belated solidarity with the Arab Spring—at Israel’s expense, of course, not that liberal circles cared one bit. It was their sense that their man had gotten his mojo back. November 2012 was starting to feel like a breeze. Republicans had no one serious or impressive enough to defeat him, Paul Ryan was as marginalized as Ayn Rand, and all this scare talk from the right about the country’s failing economy and fiscal condition was nothing that serious tax hikes on the rich and further, deeper government “investments” wouldn’t shut up for good.
But then came June, and with it, faster than you could say Anthony Weiner, new numbers, ominous numbers, an economy in renewed freefall, markets plunging, unemployment up, GDP growth down, a recovery-less recovery in full doom. There was really nothing new there for anyone who’d kept his head above sand level these last few years, but nonetheless it came as a huge, debilitating shock to the Obama brigade of wishful thinkers. Their cocky, giddy mood simply vanished, in a flash, and unlike in November 2010, say, it wasn’t because of anything the right might have done. It’s not even because of anything they’d done, except maybe lie to themselves, as they’ve been doing the longest time, with ever diminishing returns. Not even if President Obama were to announce that on his personal direction a SEAL team had snuck into Tripoli and disposed of Colonel Gaddafi for good would their mood revive.
That’s another way of saying they have only themselves to blame. But—what else could they expect? Had they ever stopped to think who our president has surrounded himself with? Three key Chicago people joined him in Washington. Now two of them are back in Chicago, while the third remains perhaps the least scrutinized power behind the throne in living memory. “Who is Valerie Jarrett?” Paul Kengor asks (p. 12). He’s the first who’d like to tell you more about her, but no one’s ever bothered to examine her closely. But what he has uncovered through his own digging and from a thorough reading of previous, scattered reporting, this key aide and mentor to our president has a very red diaper past and a business career that’s been utterly dependent on government connections at their seediest. (In other countries in other times such players were called the nomenklatura.) If our economy is going the way of Chicago public housing, her longtime bailiwick, it’s no accident (as people in those other countries would have put it). Meanwhile, those responsible for our economic condition end up doubling their earnings, as the system they run into the ground ends up paying them handsomely to rebuild it from scratch. “Nice work if you can get it” has never sounded nicer.
It’s fitting that for lack of anything else to trumpet, our president and his crew have now decided his greatest economic achievement was saving General Motors, a.k.a. as Government Motors, at least outside government circles. So how much of that $80 billion “investment” was wasted? Apparently, not a penny. With nothing else to crow about it, you can take it to the Obama Bank. Assuming it remains open this summer.
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