Rarely has America elected a man as unqualified as Barack Obama to the office of the presidency. Last night, Obama offered his last State of the Union address. Therein he declared that America had never had it better and that everything was great.
Surely, there is evidence that demonstrates the point. You can always cherry-pick data to prove a point. And yet, one suspects that a president who governs by executive fiat believes that if he says his presidency was a success it was a success.
While it is true that the economy has been creating jobs at a steady clip for six years now, it is also true that we are living through the most anemic recovery since the Great Depression. Moreover, it was widely reported yesterday that 93% of America’s counties have not fully recovered from the recession.
This, from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:
More than six years after the economic expansion began, 93% of counties in the U.S. have failed to fully recover from the blow they suffered during the recession.
Nationwide, 214 counties, or 7% of 3,069, had recovered last year to prerecession levels on four indicators: total employment, the unemployment rate, size of the economy and home values, a study from the National Association of Counties released Tuesday found.
People who believe that the economy has not fully recovered are not delusional. As for the other supposed achievements of the Obama presidency, recent polls have shown that a significant majority of Americans believe that the Obama presidency has been a failure on all major issues.
Obama is having none of it. Last night he told us that ISIS is more an irritation than a problem. He neglected to mention the serial humiliations that Iran has been visiting on us, up to and including yesterday’s seizure of two American naval vessels. He declared that Gitmo was a recruitment “brochure,” that Joe Biden was going to cure cancer and that our most serious problems are climate change and Islamophobia.
Obama does not know what is going on in the world and does not know that he doesn’t know. He does not know what to do, so he just pronounces his presidency to be a great success and assumes that if he says it it’s true. When it comes to world affairs, his has been a do-nothing presidency.
As for the risible claim that America has more standing in the world under his presidency, the truth is that, as is commonly stated, our friends no longer trust us and our enemies no longer fear us. Alliances throughout the world are shifting in the direction of Russia and China because Obama has abrogated American leadership.
ISIS might not be an immediate existential threat to America, though thanks to Obama, Iran and ISIS together now pose a far greater existential threat to Israel. About that, Obama does not care.
Surely, Europe is facing an existential threat from ISIS and other Islamist terrorists. European women are now confronting the reality that they can no longer go out alone at night. Islamic refugees have brought rape culture to Europe. Obama has nothing to say about the victims of such sexual assaults. He wants more Syrian and other Muslim refugees to enter America. Why should American women miss out on the fun?
How bad was it in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. For the record, and for those who like to have objective information, the Daily Mail has printed the police reports from the recent gang assaults on women in Cologne. As Lizzie Crocker once said: God bless the Daily Mail.
The reports themselves are too extensive for a blog post, but here is the opening:
Police notes taken by officers at the New Year's Eve Cologne sex attacks reveal the full, horrific detail of how women were groped, sexually assaulted, robbed and raped at the hands of a vicious sex mob.
Over 500 women were attacked by baying groups of immigrant men in a free-for-all of humiliation and degradation which overwhelmed officers and at a stroke undermined Germany's vaunted role as protector of refugees from war and terror.
Disturbing reports are recorded in the terse argot of police officers - but leave no room for misinterpretation.
Obviously, it takes some foresight to see that it could happen here. But, that would require a vision that extends beyond the next year. Obama is convinced that ISIS will not mount a serious security threat during his presidency. About the rest, he simply does not care.
About recruitment brochures, Obama ought to know that same-sex marriage, transgender restrooms and Bill Clinton’s decadence also show up in ISIS recruitment brochures. Of course, the current leading recruitment brochure is the weak and feckless Obama presidency.
Lest you imagine that I am being overly negative, I will cite two excellent paragraphs from the president’s speech. In them, Obama notes the fact under his leadership American politics has become more divisive and rancorous, thus that it has become impossible to accomplish anything except by an extra-constitutional executive fiat. Obama notes correctly that the problem lies in his inability to bridge the partisan gap. Let’s call it rank incompetence.
But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our political opponents are unpatriotic. Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get attention. Most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest.
Too many Americans feel that way right now. It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.
One finds it peculiar that Obama cites Lincoln and Roosevelt, neither of whom was notably conciliatory. And, they both presided over and won major wars. For his part, Obama brags constantly about his being, as another president said, too proud to fight.
If American morale has been declining during the Obama years, the reason is that Obama has projected weakness around the world. He seems most proud of his willingness to surrender, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Last night he denounced Republican politicians for wanting to bomb civilians—as though you can fight ISIS without hurting any civilians.
When you lose a war your people will become sullen and discontented. It is not the most difficult thing to understand.
Obama is quite correct to note that he has been unwilling to compromise with Republicans. He is correct to note that he has demonized the opposition and has been willing to ignore the will of the people as expressed by the people’s representatives in Congress.
After having spent seven years blaming Republicans for everything that went wrong in his presidency, it is nice to see him even pay lip service to the fact that he bore the responsibility for the bitterness and recrimination that defined the mood of the national conversation.
He might also have mentioned his propensity to lie to the American people, to lie about whatever he felt like lying about and for never apologizing for the lies.
The truth is, the presidency is an extremely difficult job. It requires considerable knowledge and experience. You do not gain the relevant experience by spending two decades soaking up the vitriol and the ideological swill of Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Barack Obama was never up to the job. When America elected Barack Obama it was blinding itself to the obvious, to the obviously unqualified candidate. America decided to roll the dice with Barack Obama. It was a bad bet. We will be paying for it for quite some time.