Friday, October 15, 2010

A Bipolar Presidency

In America we have Republicans and Democrats and Obama.

More than a few of us have suspected that Obama belongs in a category all his own. For his radicalism, he is sui generis.

Granted Obama seems to be trying to bridge gaps. But in trying to occupy both ends of the political spectrum, he ends up sounding bipolar. He seems to jump from one extreme to the other, and the bridge, like the shovel-ready projects, remains unbuilt.

He is not governing according to conservative or liberal principles, but from a set of fictions that he is imposing on an increasingly unwilling nation.

By now we are all too familiar with Obama’s fictions. One of them insists that big business exploits the disadvantaged, that it robs from the poor to fatten the rich, and that a president’s duty is to redistribute income, to right wrongs, to punish the successful, and therefore to produce social justice.

This morning Ken Langone, one of the founders of the Home Depot, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal where he offered his analysis of the Obama approach to business. Link here.

Langone was responding to an exchange he had with Obama at a town hall meeting. If Obama was trying to engage with businessmen at a town hall meeting, he clearly failed. As Langone wrote: "I must say that the event seemed more like a lecture than a dialogue.”

For those of us who believe that Obama takes everyone to be his “teachable” pupils, Langone’s description does not come as a surprise.

It should also not be surprising to read Langone's take on Obama: namely that he feels that business is a corrupt enterprise that can only be saved by accepting his guidance and regulation.

Addressing Obama directly, he writes: "For more than two years the country has listened to your sharp rhetoric about how American businesses are short-changing workers, fleecing customers, cheating borrowers, and generally 'driving the economy into a ditch,' to borrow your oft-repeated phrase."

He adds: "My question to you was why, during a time when investment and dynamism are so critical to our country, was it necessary to vilify the very people who deliver that growth? Instead of offering a straight answer, you informed me that I was part of a 'reckless' group that had made 'bad decisions' and now required your guidance, if only I'd stop 'resisting' it."

Ken Langone is a distinguished businessman. He is one of the titans of American business. He went to a town meeting with the president of the United States and got dressed down. He was accused of having caused the nation's economic difficulties. Could we hope for a better example of gross incivility.

As we know, Obama believes that his problems with business are more about bad communication than bad policy. Ultimately, he feels misunderstood. Thus, he likes to hold town hall meetings because they give him the opportunity to show the business world that he knows what is best for them.

Langone responds: "Your insistence that your policies are necessary and beneficial to business is utterly at odds with what you and your administration are saying elsewhere. You pick a fight with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, accusing it of using foreign money to influence congressional elections, something the chamber adamantly denies. Your U.S. attorney in New York, Preet Bahrara, compares investment firms to Mexican drug cartels and says he wants the power to wiretap Wall Street when he sees fit."

Finally, Langone offers his concept. He describes the Obama Obama presidency in terms that would make it functionally bipolar.

It vacillates between manic, but empty, displays of pro-business feelings, displays that have nothing to do with reality, followed by depressing and increasingly hostile actions that deprecate businesspeople.

In Langone’s words: "That short-sighted wavering—between condescending encouragement one day and hostile disparagement the next—creates uncertainty that, as any investor could tell you, causes economic paralysis. That's because no one can tell what to expect next."


Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Schneiderman
RE: Sui Generis???!?!?

More than a few of us have suspected that Obama belongs in a category all his own. For his radicalism, he is sui generis. -- Stuart Schneiderman

Not really. He's just like every other America-hating socialist-muslim, non-citizen.

The only thing that makes him 'unique' is that US were stupid enough to put him in the Oval Office. But many of US who actually have more than two synapses to rub together and are not brain-washed by the flood of garbage coming out of the [literal] boob-tube, could recognize the key 'indicators' of his bent.


[The Truth will out....]

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Actually, I was thinking of presidents, not of all citizens, but did not express myself very well. I see Obama, among presidents, in a category all his own.

Thanks for bring it to my attention.

David Foster said...

One of the most unlovable things about Obama is that there seems to be absolutely no field of human endeavor in which he does not consider himself more qualified that people who have actually *practiced* that field of activity...

The Ghost said...

there is no longer any confusion about the future for businesses. Obama will attack you and propose rules and regulations to hamstring you, period.
He may mouth positive words but his true intentions can be seen in his actions which are always anti-business.
The only coin Obama had was his stirring words ... now that every American can see him as the liar he is that coin is tarnished to the point of being valueless.
He can no longer "talk" his way out a problem because he cannot be trusted at his word ...

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Being an intellectual, and being a philosopher king, Obama is living out the Platonic myth. He believes, as David says, that he knows more than people with experience because he sees the great Ideas. And his vision has never been clouded over by real experience.

I think that The Ghost hits on the other most important point: namely, that the nation has, hopefully, discovered that Obama is not a man of his word. He does not feel bound by his word.

Thus, the chances for his working effectively with a Republican House or even Congress are very slim indeed.

And if we understand that Obama's word is not worth anything, how must nations abroad view his promises and commitments to them?

David Foster said...

Stuart, I think Obama is an "intellectual" only in the sense that the word has become an assertion of credentials and a claim of status. I've seen no evidence that he has a serious interest in ideas, a thirst for knowledge, or an analytical approach to problems.

I think we need to call these people out and not accept them at their own self-estimate.

Related thoughts from Rick Darby.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks, David. I appreciate the correction. At best, Obama dons the mantle of the intellectual when it suits him, but, in truth, his intellectual efforts are not very impressive.

Does anyone believe that he really wrote the two books that have his name on them, and that form the basis for his intellectual credentials?

Ralph said...

David, your comment is well phrased.
It seems that by speaking with an attitude of great authority (the professorial/lecturer/teacher tone) he has managed to impress upon the naive or ignorant he is wise.

I don't know if anyone else caught Mr. Langone's comment about buying swimming pools, but it struck me that he was referring to Obama's naive and narrow view of businessmen as only interested in making money so they can buy nice things for themselves, like tvs. Evidently the lesson about the big three's cash burn went over Obama's head last year.