The line between fascism and Fabian socialism is very thin. Fabian socialism is the dream. Fascism is Fabian socialism plus the inevitable dictator.” — John T. Flynn
In the field of politics, looking like you have initiative and courage is priceless — because you don’t actually need to have it if you look like you do. Unfortunately for President Obama, he possesses neither a backbone or the appearance of one. Yes, the President is weaker than ever as far as, well, almost everyone is concerned.
Take for example, his recent attempt to slyly schedule his “job speech” on the same-Bat-time-same-Bat-channel as the Republican 2012 GOP debate on September 7th. As impish as his plan was, he was foiled by the House of Representatives and told that he must give his speech the day after — September 8th. “It is a big deal that the House said ‘no’ to the president from our end,” thus sayith the White House. It’s not that big of a deal — speaking from a non-White House perspective, obviously — but it certainly diminishes whatever weight Obama carries.
Indeed, since Obama’s speech was moved from Wednesday to Thursday, it seemed as though the President’s eight-hundredth speech on job focus was going to conflict with the NFL opening. Never fear! Obama likes football, too! White House speaker Jay Carney tells millions of Americans, “I can assure all you football fans that he will be completed before kickoff.” I don’t know, there’s just something about, “Don’t worry guys, Obama’s speech will be over before the kickoff,” that makes the President look a little less like a world leader and a little more like one of those pre-game talking heads. Carney’s statement also assumes that American football fans would actually give up the kickoff to let Obama finish threading together hundreds of platitudes that will probably never turn into something tangible.
For several years we’ve heard Obama go on, and on, and on about focusing on jobs. But effects on unemployment have been negligible and things have only gotten worse since he took office. Yes, I am indeed implying that giving the economy another speech won’t actually do anything. Investor’s Business Daily put together a neat little graph showing plans and speeches Obama has made, and the effect on unemployment.
See that? As Obama continued to pass stimulus packages, unemployment benefits and other spending, unemployment went up. But when he talked about cutting payroll taxes and the like, unemployment actually dropped below nine percent. An advantage Obama blew away when he puffed out some more hot air in his State of the Union. It is true, however, that this graph only shows correlation and not necessarily causality. But one must still consider the trends and correlations — correlations that gain credibility as they occur more consistently.
The Congressional Budget Office’s August, 2011 report had some pretty optimistic ideas about unemployment. “The unemployment rate is projected to fall from 9.1 percent in the second quarter of 2011 to 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter of the year and to 8.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012—and then to remain above 8 percent until 2014.” That was the official statement, until the Obama administration decided that unemployment actually won’t fall. Sounds like the White House is having a hard time believing their own numbers.
The administration’s new prediction looks to be much more accurate. Consider the number of jobs created in the month of August: Zero. With those kinds of growth numbers it wouldn’t be inaccurate for Obama to claim that he has increased the number of jobs in the economy by a factor of ten. Or a hundred. Or a thousand. Or maybe it’s time to play up the, “Yeah-sure-things-aren’t-getting-better-but-you-won’t-believe-how-many-jobs-we-saved,” side of Obamian rhetoric.
News and governmental agencies throw out these numbers like, 9.1% and 8.9%. But such numbers are arguably not the real unemployment rate. Those numbers are from measure U-3 — total unemployment as a percentage of the workforce — in the Department of Labor. You would think that’s all there is to finding the unemployment rate until you realize what they’ve really done with their measurements.
The final measure is U-6, which is described as, “Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.” Workers who are, “marginally attached,” are people who have not looked for a job in the last twelve months. Does that mean they are not unemployed? No, of course not. So when you measure every unemployed person, as of August, you get an unemployment number that looks more like this:
Government entities have played with the numbers to make unemployment look like it is almost half of the real number.
Now Obama’s most recent approval woes are much more clear. The tricky thing about the approval of a President as determined by unemployment is that you can change the numbers and fool a few people but you can’t actually change the real number of unemployed. It’s not like you can tell the unemployed that they, in reality, have a job. In other words, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.
Obama’s approval ratings have dipped to all time lows with African Americans (81%), Women (40%), and even his own Democratic party (74%). Obama’s chances of a strong election comeback are, shall we say, less than optimistic.
You might ask why his ratings are low even among his own fans and former fans. But when you think about it, he’s never really done anything that compelling. What has the President actually done that has garnered widespread support? What has he actually done that was real leadership and not just a political gimmick? What speech has the President given that was widely popular and made his approval skyrocket? Everything he’s done and said for the last three years was always half-baked, half-hearted and hap-hazard. Like his decision to leave Afghanistan or close Guantanamo Bay. None of it happened and probably none of it ever will.
G.K. Chesterton outlined Obama’s very problem over one-hundred years ago:
[T]he new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it….As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself.” -G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy
Obama — and the bumbling politicians like him — are suffering from such and ideology. He has left all of the ideological doors open so that he can pop in and out of them at the times when they are popular. In his attempts to look strong he makes himself look weak because trying to prove his strength makes him look insecure. Yet, if he does not show some courage and leadership, he will be accused of the same fault. He does not cling to an ideology — just to himself. But when you only believe in yourself, you quickly find that there’s nothing there. Why? Because when you believe in yourself but do not believe in anything else — well, there’s just nothing to look at.
When was the last time Obama became passionate, or expressed explicit and unwavering belief in something? The only time that happens is when people throw mud at him or he looses face. (Like when his speech was rescheduled.) Obama has no loyalty but to himself, and that’s what the rest of the world is just finding out. There’s nothing there but the power trip of somebody who probably doesn’t even know what he’ll be telling you tomorrow. But whatever it is, it better win some votes. Because, after all, votes for Obama are about Obama, and that’s what Obama’s all about.