Obama's presidency lurches from fad to fad -- from gays in the military to "green jobs" to the "Buffett rule." Hyped as a profound presidency, it has turned out to be an embarrassingly frivolous one. Sober historians of the future, not cowed by political correctness, will no doubt look back and say that Obama fiddled while America burned, indulging his sophomoric socialism, environmentalism, and social engineering at a time of terrorism and economic crisis.
The weighty and thoughtful orator of Democratic mythology looks more like a glib used car salesman, and in his case most of the used cars are electric. It is fitting that his hawking of cheap environmentalist propaganda would lead him into the first major scandal of his presidency. The Solyndra debacle is exactly what one would expect from an administration determined to push the politics of environmentalist conjecture at the expense of the American taxpayer and economy.
Out of Obama's implausible ideological insistence that "green jobs" would bolster the economy, and the political need to prove that claim, came a hasty loan to a dubious solar panel maker that promised to create them. Obama leaves the American taxpayer with a bill of over half a billion dollars for this environmental lark, and it is only the most recent bill. His "green jobs" loan guarantee program has been a bust, costing taxpayers tens of billions for the creation of a pitifully small number of jobs.
The Solyndra scandal stands as a symbol of the administration's reckless and unserious approach to the economy, undermining job creators while propping up job destroyers. Needing to divert people's attention from the greed and irresponsibility on display in the scandal, Obama now turns back to raw class warfare, hoping to egg the poor and middle class into an idle hatred of the rich. The great unifier seeks to set secretary against boss.
Obama says his gimmicky "Buffett rule" is not class warfare but simple math. Maybe he means the "new math" taught in public schools. Senator Charles Schumer of New York must not have received the "simple math" talking point; he admits openly that Obama's proposal is timed to capitalize on potential class resentments in a bad economy. "When everybody went up, it was a lot harder to make this argument," he told the press. "I think the time is ripe again. And I think the president sensed that."
Obama's half-baked Marxist musings with Joe the Plumber remain his deepest thoughts on the purpose of taxation. He still feels entitled to seize wealth and "spread" it around. When he says that the rich aren't paying their "fair share," all he is saying is that their money belongs to the government automatically for redistribution. But that's just theft masquerading as taxation. The true principle of taxation is not the redistribution of wealth but the financing of legitimate government activity, and under that principle the rich are paying more than their fair share, as they carry a disproportionate amount of those costs. Republicans should resist the Buffett rule not just because it will inhibit job creation and consumption but because it is a bald act of theft.
America's "jobs president" is more like a crooked Robin Hood. Economic decline is not so much a crisis for him as a policy and a pretext for ideological opportunism. Given the choice between liberal ideology and the creation of jobs, he consistently selects the former. He chooses unions over jobs, environmental regulations over jobs, and trivial tax-hike gimmicks over jobs.
Obama's blasé attitude about Solyndra, shrugging off an enormous loss to taxpayers as no big deal, is part of this ideological blindness and complacency. No failure ever prompts any reflection on the wisdom of a liberal scheme; he just moves forward, trying out new ways to present failed ideas as a boon to the common good.
A popular slur among liberal pundits is to say that Republicans oppose Barack Obama's economic ideas because they want the economy to stay sluggish before the election. The slur makes no sense. If that were the Republicans' crass calculation, they would be supporting his ideas, as they are sure to make a bad economy worse.
But it is not enough for Obama to damage the economy. He's also proud of shaking up the military. Just as he is making life harder on businessmen through new taxes and regulations, so he now makes life harder on generals through social engineering. The media's coverage of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been laughably propagandistic, designed to leave the impression that everyone is thrilled with the change. The reality is that it creates new headaches for generals who already have too many of them. And there is no end in sight to the politicized struggles to come. According to the Washington Post, gay activists have a new cause to press upon a hidebound military -- the "unknown number of transgender troops serving in uniform without formal recognition." Perhaps this cause will dovetail with Obama's next likely innovation for the military, a full-blown women in combat policy.
After all, he owes feminists a favor, having allowed, according to author Ron Suskind, a "hostile workplace" for women to fester in the White House. One would have thought Bill Clinton's presidency might have triggered that complaint. Instead, "I feel like a piece of meat"-style complaints comes from Obama's. Life in the workplace has grown difficult everywhere under Obama, including in his.