President Obama says very strange things, especially for a guy who presumably wants very badly to be re-elected.
As if it weren’t enough that he last week went off on small business owners for having pride in their accomplishments, this week he actually told a rally audience in reference to the economy – with a straight face – “We tried our plan, and it worked.”
It almost seems gratuitous to start citing all the numbers that obliterate this claim – the 8.2 percent unemployment, the anemic 1.5 percent GDP growth last quarter, the soaring federal deficit that will top $1 trillion yet again this year. It’s like when the head coach of a 1-15 NFL team tries to make the case that his team is really good. Why sit there and debate him? You just nod your head and think to yourself, “Whatever you say, Coach.”
Yet I think Obama demonstrates something important about himself, and about many politicians like him, when he makes such a claim. For certain people who are so deeply steeped in their ideology, their plan cannot conceivably have failed because their ideas are correct by definition. If they tried their plan and the economy is still awful, it must be because someone else came along and messed up their unassailable brilliance.
The stimulus didn’t produce enough economic growth? Republicans wouldn’t let them spend even more!
The deficit is still out of control? Republicans won’t let them raise taxes on the rich!
Unemployment is still way too high? Greedy businesses are hording cash and not hiring people!
Regulation is crushing business growth? Those horrible CEOs need to stop resisting the government’s wise rules and do what they’re told.
When you’re convinced from the start that your ideas are foolproof, and that any failure must be the result of sabotage, then you’re relieved of the burden of ever reassessing your ideas. They can’t possibly be the problem! They’re right!
Of course, in spite of the fact that Obama makes all of the above excuses, he does not acknowledge that overall failure has occurred. Remember, “It worked.” That’s what he said.
And this is the other side of the pathological equation. You and I look at the horrible numbers and say, “That sure doesn’t look like success to me.” All Obama has to do is claim the numbers would have been even worse without his policies. It’s absurd, but you can’t prove it’s untrue, so it’s good enough for him. He can point to the collapse of the mortgage market, the sharp decline in GDP that occurred during the fourth quarter of 2008 and the rapid collapse that was occurring when he took office – and then he can claim to have stemmed the tide.
When you point out that his is the weakest economic recovery in a century, he and his supporters claim that the so-called “Great Recession” was a unique and special event and that the usual rapid recovery we see after recessions should have not been expected in this case.
Of course, the Obama administration’s own predictions belie that claim. In 2009, they said they needed to pass the stimulus to keep unemployment from topping 8 percent. After the stimulus passed, it soared above 10 percent and still hasn’t fallen below 8 percent. Oops! They predicted economic growth this year would be 3 percent. Half way through the year, it’s less than 2 percent and it’s just about statistically impossible it will get anywhere near 3 percent. Never mind!
This is failure no matter how you cut it. But you can’t tell that to Obama and his economic team. They decided long ago that their ideas never fail and cannot fail. You picture Obama like the mad professor standing alone in his lab and looking befuddled because his latest concoction didn’t perform whatever magic function he was expecting: “No! It can’t be wrong! It has to work!”
That mad professor is going to try the same concoction again and again, convinced that he will get the result he wants – no matter how brutally the facts smack him in the face. And if re-elected, Obama will do the same. Even now, when he desperately needs to come up with something that will sell the voters on re-electing him, all he can come up with is more spending proposals and more class warfare. It’s the same stuff he’s been doing since he took office, and the rest of us can see that it hasn’t worked – but don’t tell that to the mad professor.
He is always right. The problem is the rest of you – you ungrateful business owners, you rascally Republicans, you dumb people who don’t really know how much worse it would have been without Obama’s steady hand at the wheel.
The rest of us sit there with jaws on the floor, thinking, “Did he really say that?” But it makes perfect sense to the pathological mad professor who is sadly alone in recognizing his own brilliance.