WASHINGTON — There is squabbling in the White House. President Barack Obama’s approval rating has dipped to unprecedented lows in the polls, and he has not a clue as to what to do about it. Within the President’s team there are the pragmatists led by David Plouffe (pronounced plu’-fey) and William M. Daley who favor small gestures. I mean really small gestures. They would favor free trade agreements, possibly with Gabon, perhaps the Maldives. They also favor improved patent protections for investors, assuming they can find investors, and something about Michelle’s garden. At least I thought it was about Michele’s garden. At any rate, it was small. Maybe they were advocating growing cherry tomatoes.
On the other hand, there is the president’s chief economic advisor, Gene Sperling, who is himself a small man, but he advocates big initiatives. Citing public anger with Republicans over the debt-ceiling debates, he is for big bold new initiatives, the New York Times tells us. He is not all that convincing about the public’s anger with Republicans but he is for big initiatives, like tax incentives for business that hire the unemployed. Why they would hire the unemployed if they have little work for them I am not clear. Do they do it for tax incentives? Sometimes I get the idea President Obama gets the chief economic advisors a community activist deserves.
The best example of the big ideas that these clowns are thinking about is that the Administration will create a new department in the federal government called something like the Department of Jobs or the Department of Competitiveness. I kid thee not. It would include the Department of Commerce, the Office of the United States Trade Representative along with certain economic divisions of the State Department. And why not throw in the Department of Education and perhaps the Marine Band?
Obviously this Administration is making heavy weather of it, and things will be getting worse. I do not like to belabor a point that I have been making for a year now, but Barack Obama is the least experienced man ever to be president. He is also about the most ideological man ever to approach the presidency and the combination of inexperience and pigheaded ideology does not make for a very good president
In the meantime, over the weekend Governor Rick Perry declared his candidacy for the White House. Declaring it is “time to get America working again” he cited the figures of unemployment and low growth — growth is lower than 2 percent. At this time in the recovery cycle of President Ronald Reagan it was 7.1 percent. Governor Perry is the longest serving Texas governor, and it is a plus that he governs Texas. Texas, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve, has created 37 percent of all the new jobs created since the recession ended. A little over a year ago Texas was being compared to California, favorably. Texas is the big state that works. California is the big state that is dysfunctional.
With unemployment being the main issue in next year’s election Governor Perry has a very good message. He can link his state’s record of low taxes, controlled spending and tort reform and challenge whatever ideas come out of the White House squabble over big ideas or small ideas or Michele’s garden. Whatever ideas the White House trumpets it will still be burdened with high unemployment and low growth — possibly no growth — in 2012. Meanwhile, Governor Perry appeals to both the fiscal conservatives and the social conservatives, while his background in the Air Force will not hurt him on the national defense issue, a very big issue in light of our president’s foreign policy disasters.
Moreover, another strong issue for Perry is energy. He comes from the state that has energy on its mind. He has spoken about natural gas, and seems to understand as no one running for the presidency does, that we have discovered enough natural gas in the country to change the rules of the game. If our natural gas can be used effectively it can make us independent of foreign oil, allowing us to set the price of oil, not OPEC. It is both a domestic energy issue and a national security issue. What the governor has to say about the issues will be of great importance in the months ahead, not the least of which is how to develop natural gas. Only he is equipped to talk about it as a source of energy and a national security matter. While the White House squabble I shall be listening to Governor Perry on the issues.