The White House re-election team is spinning desperately to both change the subject from the debt limit bill and divert attention from its failure to address any real problem the country faces.
The President’s spokespeople would have us believe the bill was both necessary and good for the economy. But if that is true, why are there no economists or politicians standing behind the President, applauding as he signs the bill?
It’s hard to avoid the most logical explanations for the President’s solitary act: Despite his Party leadership’s complicity in voting for and sanctioning the bill, no sensible Democrat, and certainly no one running in 2012 for re-election, wanted to be in a picture that economists now, and historians later, may point to as possibly the most economically stupid and shameful act of surrender ever signed by an American President.
And even when Republicans like John Boehner are willing to take public credit for getting “98 percent of what I wanted,” the White House certainty did not want to be surrounded by a bunch of jubilant Republicans holding up two fingers for victory behind Mr. Obama’s head as he signed his own surrender to their successful blackmail.
So the picture of the President shows him signing the bill alone, while Mitch McConnell brazenly celebrated the victory of economic blackmail and extortion on the Senate floor. From the NYT:
“The debt ceiling should not be something that is used as a gun against the heads of the American people,” the president said.
But Mr. McConnell sees it differently. . . .
Mr. McConnell said the just-ended debate in Washington created “an entirely new template” for future attempts to raise the debt ceiling.
“This kind of discussion isn’t something to dread; it’s something to welcome,” Mr. McConnell said. “And while the president may not have particularly enjoyed this debate, it was a debate that Washington needed to have.” . . .
“Never again will any president, from either party, be allowed to raise the debt ceiling without being held accountable for it by the American people and without having to engage in the kind of debate we’ve just come through,” Mr. McConnell said moments before the Senate vote on the deal he worked out to raise the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion.
So there it is. The likely next Majority Leader of the Senate just told the President of the United States that even though the debt limit was supposedly raised enough to get through his first term, but at a terrible price to the nation’s credibility and institutions, the Republican Party will again hold the debt limit hostage in 2013 if he wins reelection. And once again the Republican Party will blackmail the nation, exploiting a President that either agrees with their goals or cannot find the wisdom or the courage to defend the nation’s credit or its economy.
The economists warn us we’re facing a possible renewed recession to go with the continued depression being suffered by the unemployed and many others. The economy needs a strong President who understands the economics of a “lesser depression” (or “balance-sheet recession”). It needs a leader who is prepared to mobilize the nation’s huge resources to overcome it and mitigate its damage. And it needs a President who cannot be blackmailed by implacable zealots and is not afraid to call them out. But those qualities don’t apply to Mr. Obama. So how are the nation’s government and economy supposed to survive such an incompetent, feckless President?
There was once a time when Presidents looked to a group of respected elders who, in times of crisis, could get access to a President and tell him he’d truly screwed up, that he needed to change course. I don’t know who these people are today. Does this President have anyone of that stature to whom he would listen? Because the people who surround him appear as clueless and helpless as he is.
In another era, a much stronger, far more effective, and more politically astute President, when faced with growing rejection of his war policies that were splitting the country, surprised the nation by saying “I shall not seek, and I will not accept . . .” That moment has arrived for Mr. Obama, but there’s no one close enough and wise enough to tell him, and he doesn’t seem able or willing to figure it out himself.