A little bit of daylight has begun to emerge between the Clintons and President Obama. As the president’s ratings drop — recently, particularly among liberals — the first signs are beginning to show of distance between the former rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.
As always with the Clintons, the signs are made evident by a carefully choreographed two-step in which they fill their separate roles, one as an outsider and the other as a loyal insider to the Obama Administration. But never doubt that everything these two do is coordinated and orchestrated.
It’s one thing to say that Obama’s Administration showed its ineptitude and mismanagement in its handling of the Gulf oil spill. It is quite another to grasp the situation up close as I did during a recent visit to Alabama.
According to state disaster relief officials, Alabama conceived a plan – early on – to erect huge booms off shore to shield the approximately 200 miles of their state’s coastline from oil. Rather than install the relatively light and shallow booms in use elsewhere, the state (with assistance from the Coast Guard) canvassed the world and located enough huge, heavy booms – some weighing tons and seven meters high – to guard their coast.
So, Alabama decided on a backup plan. It would buy snare booms to catch the oil as it began to wash up on the beaches.
Why is President Obama suing to invalidate the Arizona law on illegal immigration? Why is he incurring the enmity of even his own Democratic Congressmen from the Phoenix and Tucson areas by trying to kill a law that two-thirds of Arizona and a similar proportion of America as a whole supports?
The answer: It is a desperate, last ditch attempt to rebuild his sagging popularity with America’s Hispanic voters.
General Stanley McChrystal’s interview in Rolling Stone Magazine will do a lot to damage further President Obama’s standing among liberals and Democrats and will undermine his chances of keeping control of Congress in 2010.
To conservative voters and commentators, his comments underscore doubts about Obama’s competence. To the Administration’s spokespeople, the interview shows a lack of proper subordination in the chain of command. But to the voters of the left, the key import of his comments is that the general in charge of the war in Afghanistan basically said the war is not being won, and perhaps cannot be won.
Published on TheHill.com on June 22, 2010
Many say that the situation in Greece is a harbinger of what is coming to the United States. They are right. But first it will come to states like New York, California and Michigan that are stretched way beyond their means and deeply in debt.
Until now, the problems in these states have been papered over by federal aid. Essentially, Washington has relieved these states (and the local governments they fund) of their constitutional obligations to balance their budgets by giving them welfare checks in the nick of time. Obama now seeks to pass $50 billion in additional welfare to the states.
Drowning in oil, the Obama Administration is pulling out all the stops to halt the hemorrhaging of liberal support which is driving his ratings down to the low 40s–previously unexplored territory.
Obama has already lost all the Republicans and almost all of the Independents. But he has kept his head above water with the solid support of liberal Democrats and African-Americans. But now that the Gulf oil spill enters its eighth week, with no sign of abating, he is shedding Democrats. Rapidly.
To the left, the oil spill is not an index of presidential competence or an issue in the political sphere. It is a daily gushing of poison into the Earth’s waters as a direct result of the president’s failure to stop it. They blame BP. But they already hate oil companies. And they blame Obama, too. And they are coming to dislike him.
When Obama attempts to recoup this damage to his political base by pushing new legislation on the environment or by resurrecting his cap and trade legislation or by bringing criminal charges against BP or by setting up a liability fund for the spill’s victims, it does not solve his political problem. With each day, 60,000 gallons gush into the Gulf, Obama’s equivalent of the body count in Iraq that caused the left to loathe George W. Bush. Rhetoric or programs or visits to the Gulf or posturing won’t assuage the negatives. Only plugging the hole in the bottom of the ocean can do it.
Published on TheHill.com on June 15, 2010
Jon Leibowitz, the chairman of Obama’s Federal Trade Commission, is at the epicenter of a quiet movement to subsidize news organizations, a first step toward government control of the media. In our book, 2010: Take Back America — A Battle Plan, we reported that he had commissioned a study to examine plans for a federal subsidy for news organizations. Among the measures under consideration are special tax treatment, exemption from antitrust laws and changes in copyright laws.
Now Leibowitz has begun to pounce. A May 24 working paper on “reinventing” the media proposes that the government impose fees on websites such as the Drudge Report that link to news websites or that it tax consumer electronics such as iPads, laptops and Kindles. Funds raised by these levies would be redistributed to traditional media outlets.
Contrary to what the Constitution says, the president does not run the executive branch of the federal government. It runs itself. Following Newton’s Laws of Motion, it is “a body in motion that tends to remain in motion in the same direction and at the same speed unless acted upon by an outside force.” The bureaucracy keeps doing what it is programmed to do unless someone intervenes.
And that intervention is the proper job of the president. He has to step in, ask the right questions, get inside and outside advice, and decide how to intervene to move the bureaucracy one way or the other. President Clinton had an excellent sense of how to do this and when to get involved. President Obama does not.
Just as the subprime mortgage crisis had its roots in the Clinton Administration decision to require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to find enough low income borrowers so that half their loans were subprime, the Gulf oil spill also had its roots in misguided policies begun by the Clinton Administration.
In 1995, President Clinton signed the Outer Continental Shelf Deepwater Royalty Relief Act which exempted oil wells drilled deep in the Gulf from the normal royalty payments they would normally have owed the government for their oil. Usually, these payments amount to between 12% and 16% of their revenues, so exemption from this requirement did a great deal to catalyze drilling in deep waters in the Gulf of Mexico. As a result of the Administration action, deepwater oil production in the Gulf increased rapidly, growing from 42 million barrels annually in 1996 to 348 million in 2004. The latter figure represents about 6% of total United States oil consumption and about 15% of domestic production. Natural gas production from deepwater Gulf drilling increased tenfold during the same period.