The Obama Watch

The Obama Watch

Amateur Hour

By 6.4.14

The Obama administration presented the release of Bowe Bergdahl as an indisputably glorious moment for the country. Amidst the celebration on Saturday, Obama didn’t bother to mention that Bergdahl was a deserter. Obama considered the swap of five of the most dangerous terrorists of the Taliban for Bergdahl worthy of a Rose Garden ceremony. Even for the release of a decorated soldier, that would have been a dubious idea, given the shocking, precedent-breaking character of such a trade. But for Bergdahl, whose story of desertion and possible treachery and collaboration grows more troubling with each new report, a Rose Garden ceremony seems almost like a parody of liberalism.

Obama administration officials, straining to defend the trade, noted that the Israelis have occasionally released Palestinian prisoners for hostages. But one can’t imagine the Israelis ever executing such a trade for a deserter whose actions caused the deaths of soldiers (the number keeps climbing in press reports) who conducted a long and risky search for him.

The Obama Watch

Inveterate Carelessness

By 6.2.14

Sez I: If they would do the decent thing,
And shield the missis and the little ’uns,
Why, even I might shout “God save the King,”
And face the chances of them ’ungry guns.
But we’ve got three, another on the way;
It’s that wot makes me snarl and set me jor:
The wife and nippers, wot of ’em, I say,
If I gets knocked out in this blasted war?
Gets proper busted by a shell,
But… wot the ’ell, Bill? Wot the ’ell?

Ay, wot the ’ell’s the use of all this talk?
To-day some boys in blue was passin’ me,
And some of ’em they ‘ad no legs to walk,
And some of ’em they ‘ad no eyes to see.
And — well, I couldn’t look ‘em in the face,
And so I’m goin’, goin’ to declare
I’m under forty-one and take me place
To face the music with the bunch out there.
A fool, you say! Maybe you’re right.
I’ll ’ave no peace unless I fight.
I’ve ceased to think; I only know
I’ve gotta go, Bill, gotta go.
— “The Volunteer”
Robert William Service

The Obama Watch

The Fourth Branch of Government

By 5.28.14

Preferring to look ignorant rather than irresponsible, President Obama said last week that he only recently learned of scandals at the Department of Veteran Affairs through news reports. He spoke of the problems at the department as if they had blindsided him, despite the fact that as a candidate in 2008 he railed against the “the broken bureaucracy of the V.A.” and decried outrageous delays in treatment for veterans.

He didn’t need news reports to inform him of the depth of the department’s flaws; he could have reviewed his own campaign speeches. His long familiarity with the department’s problems gave his press conference last week an air of adding insult to injury. Somehow he was at once aware of the department’s deplorable condition and unaware of it.

Obama doesn’t mind appearing as the hapless spectator on the sidelines of his government if that saves him from the charge of dereliction of duty about a known problem. Yet the plight of veterans at the hands of indifferent bureaucrats clearly lost its urgency for him once the 2008 campaign ended and only now resumes urgency for him as an annoying political problem.

The Obama Watch

The Obama Coalition Is About to Come Apart

By 5.16.14

For the past decade the Democrats have managed to defy gravity by bolting together an unlikely coalition of the richest and poorest Americans. It’s no secret. Ever since President Bush’s re-election in 2004, the pattern has been clear. People making above $100,000 and below $40,000 vote Democratic. The people in the middle vote Republican.

But now that top-bottom coalition is about to come apart, or lose its majority status at least. And the issue will be one that may loom larger than the debacle of Obamacare — the Keystone Pipeline.

Forget all that business about Barack Obama being the first African-American President, the child of poverty and discrimination who fought his way to the top through sheer brilliance and doggedness. Sure African-Americans vote 90 percent for him and form an indispensable part of his coalition. But Obama hasn’t done a thing for them since taking office except increase unemployment.

The Obama Watch

Downplaying Jihadism

By 5.14.14

President Obama’s aversion to any perceived “war on Islam” has consistently led his administration to downplay the problem of jihad. Its outrage over the abductions of hundreds of young women in Nigeria by the jihadist organization Boko Haram hasn’t changed that stance. The State Department is still reluctant to make mention of Boko Haram’s Islamic character. Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department hesitated to label the group even a terrorist organization, despite its long catalogue of terrorist acts.

This reticence came at a time when Obama officials had no problem accusing Christians of waging a “war on women” for merely resisting Obamacare’s free contraceptives mandate. Obama is willing to indulge war-on-women rhetoric for such imaginary offenses, but he doesn’t dare accuse Islam of waging a war on women for real ones.

The Obama Watch

Tim Geithner’s True Lies

By 5.13.14

Instead of Stress Test, perhaps Tim Geithner should have borrowed the title for his memoirs from that old Arnold Schwarzenegger flick — True Lies.

Hello? Can you say “pattern”?

Former Obama Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner had nothing — so far as we know — to do with Benghazi.

Yet here is Geithner, with his new book Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises:

The White House wanted Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to lie on Sunday talk shows to downplay the part Social Security played in driving the deficit, it was revealed today.

Geithner writes in his memoir Stress Test, out today, that the White House communications director asked him to downplay the long term cost of Social Security spending to mollify the Democratic Party's base.

The Obama Watch

The Hollowing-Out of Obama’s Coalition

By 5.8.14

When rating Obama, Independents are now far closer to Republicans’ views than to Democrats’. This pronounced change in Independents’ sentiment is not only a major reason behind the president’s favorability fall, but should be Democrats’ chief concern in it. If maintained. Independents’ shift would have significant implications for this November’s election — as well as for the one two years later.

Last week, a Washington Post-ABC News poll (national sample of 1,000 adults, MOE +/-3.5%, released 4/29) showed Obama reaching a new all-time low in job performance, with just 41% approving and 52% disapproving. Obama hitting another low is not surprising this year — which has seen this happen regularly — but how the president did it, is.

To attain even his low 41% approval rating, Obama needed an overwhelmingly positive approval rating of 74%-22% from Democrat respondents. He needed it to offset Republican respondents’ even more pronounced low rating of 12%-82%. Obama also needed heavy Democrat support to offset Independent respondents’ negative 33%-59% job performance rating. 

The Obama Watch

Light at the End of the Tunnel

By 5.7.14

Conservatives need to wake up and start thinking past the rapidly passing age of Obama. Increasingly likely every day is that voters this November will remove Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader. By electing a new Republican Senate majority, the voters will also render Barack Obama a lame duck, one of the lamest in history, as he will have no prayer of getting any of his legislative proposals — increasingly recognized as hard left — through Congress. (Despite his early national rhetoric, Obama doesn’t do bipartisanship.)

That new Republican Senate majority will also be a new check and balance on Obama’s appointment of federal judges, reversing the effect of the Reid rule change eliminating Republican judicial filibusters. That is especially crucial given that the five remaining Reagan/Bush appointees on the Court constitute the slimmest of majorities, with a couple of occasionally weak sisters among them. If just one of these five is replaced by another Elena Kagan or Sonia Sotomayor, the resulting shift from a Reagan majority on the Court to an Obama one would mean a longer-term Obama transformation of America.

The Obama Watch

Obama’s Smoking Gun

By 5.1.14

The president lies. So insisted the Reverend Jeremiah Wright in a taped interview with author Ed Klein for Klein’s book on Obama titled The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House. As the latest revelation of a White House e-mail surfaces — which some are calling a smoking gun from the Benghazi scandal — the picture of a White House that flatly lies no matter the subject continues to sink Mr. Obama in the polls.

It is worth going back to the Reverend Wright to have a better understanding of what’s going on here. Klein was granted an interview with Obama’s longtime mentor, and as part of that interview Wright tells the story of the blow-up that occurred when videotaped sermons from Obama’s Trinity United Church of Christ finally exploded into conservative media view. Obama, now in mid-campaign, took a secret break to confront the reverend in Wright’s Chicago living room. The conversation did not go well, with Obama asking Wright in essence to disappear from public view. Wright says this of the moment when Wright refused the suggestion:

The Obama Watch

President Obama Celebrates the 1 Percent

By 4.22.14

Several years ago, when energy issues first starting engaging the public, the New Yorker ran a cartoon showing an upscale couple sitting in a fancy restaurant. The wife leans across the table and says to her husband, “Frankly, they’ve been perfectly insufferable since they went solar.”

President Obama reprised this spirit last week when he hosted a “Solar Summit” at the White House. The chief executive threw another $15 million at solar development, touted the military’s embrace of “renewable” energy (they’re very good at following orders), and honored the usual gaggle of Democratic loyalists as “Champions of Change” for promoting solar power. The private sector, he promised, will soon be dragged along.

It was a fitting match-up. Solar energy now provides about 1 percent of the nation’s energy income. With a heroic effort and another round of government mandates, it could probably climb to 2 percent by the end of the decade. Almost all residential solar consumption is concentrated among the wealthy. In effect, Obama is championing the 1 percent.