In yesterday's Times op-ed column, Thomas L. Friedman is advising the president to "Seize the High Ground" (emphasis mine):
I wonder how Barack Obama would do if he ran for president as himself. ... How he would do if he ran for re-election on all the things he's accomplished but rarely speaks about.
Barack Obama is a great orator, but he is the worst president I've ever seen when it comes to explaining his achievements, putting them in context, connecting with people on a gut level through repetition and thereby defining how the public views an issue.
Two things strike me right off the bat here. The fist is that Friedman is implying that because the American electorate is too stupid to realize just how wonderful the O really is, the President will have to use his great/legendary oratory skills and put his accomplishments into 'context' (read dumb the message down) so us unwashed rubes can understand it.
The second, and more disturbing, is that Friedman actually thinks Obama has a compelling message here.
He continues to spell out these great, nay, herculean accomplishments the O should be touting. Let's look at them in the order Friedman lays them out.
First up Obamacare:
Think about this: Is there anyone in America today who doesn't either have a pre-existing medical condition or know someone who does and can't get health insurance as a result? Yet two years after Obama's health care bill became law, how many Americans understand that once it is fully implemented no American with a pre-existing condition will ever again be denied coverage?
Golly, that sounds great. Further, any hardhearted fool who would be against something like this must be crazy. I mean who wouldn't want the government to provide first-class, timely expert care for its citizens?
In reality Friedman is being either journalistically dishonest or lazy - or maybe both. Never-mind the fact that the electorates approval rating for O-care is underwater. Look at the math! WHEN OBAMACARE IS FULLY ENACTED, I.E. MILLIONS OF NEW PATIENTS ON ENTERING THE MARKET, THERE WILL BE SHORTAGES - PERIOD.
Like most liberals Friedman thinks that because the law requires patients with pre-existing conditions be treated, they will be treated. Liberal thinking leaves out the fact that Obamacare assumes that there is unlimited supply of medical treatment out there. But unfortunately, once this law is fully enacted, reality (as it always does) will slap these utopian morons square in the face. Then what? Oh yeah, we will have the same level of medical service our cousins across the pond now enjoy. Woo-pee where do I sign up!
What Friedman does here is pick one seemingly innocuous benefit out of the 2,000 page law and advises the O beat the evil hearted republicans over the head with it without looking at the other side of the argument and just how devastating it will be for both our healthcare system and the economy.
Friedman's second, ahem, accomplishment that he advises the president to tout is the auto industry bail out:
Obama didn't just save the auto industry from bankruptcy. Two years later, he also got all the top U.S. automakers to agree to increase mileage for their vehicle fleets to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, from 27.5 m.p.g. today. As Popular Mechanics put it, this "is the largest mandatory fuel economy increase in history." It will drive innovation, save money and make America less dependent on petro-dictators. Did you know Obama did this?
This one ticks just me off. Does anyone truly believe that if GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection that they would not still exist today? Not only exist, but be in much better shape as well. First off, the unions would have to take on some of the restructuring burden, making the companies in better financial shape. Secondly, because the unions didn't have to make any concessions, the taxpayers are effectively subsidizing these pariahs.
Also, Friedman holds up the increase mileage nonsense as some sort of great achievement. Since the federal government has gotten involved in mandating MPG requirements, auto related fatalities have skyrocketed.
So once we are all in our paper machete reinforced automobiles in 2025 we will have the O to thank for implementing something that is technologically impossible without risking our lives every time we go to the grocery store for milk. Thanks O.
Lastly, and this one really is Orwellian, Friedman is touting Obama as a … wait for it… fiscal hawk (subtext: it's all Bush's fault):
Finally, how did Obama ever allow this duality to take hold: "The Bush tax cuts" versus the "Obama bailout"? It should have been "the Bush deficit explosion" and the "Obama rescue." Sure, the deficit has increased under Obama. It was largely to save the country from going into a Depression after a Bush-era binge that included two wars — which, for the first time in our history, we not only did not pay for with tax increases but instead accompanied with tax cuts — plus a 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill that we could not afford, then or now. Congressional Democrats also had a hand in this, but the idea that Bush gets to skate off into history as a "tax-cutter" and not as a "deficit buster" is a travesty.
While I will not argue that Bush should ever be confused with a fiscal conservative, there is something to the fact that he had to deal with a democratic congress for most of the last four years of his term. Not off the hook but just a thought. Second, how, in any way shape or form, could the O ever-ever-ever-EVER be confused with someone with the remotest understanding of economics? I know, I know we have to spend taxpayer dollars to spark the economy - or so the Keynesians would have you believe.
But of course that is utter nonsense - taking capital out of the market just to put in (inefficiently) back in makes no sense my friends. Especially if the folks putting the money back in is the Federal Government (see: Solyndra, auto bailout, EnerDel, etc.). You see the feds are convinced that they can pick the winners and losers in the market better than the private sector.
The election will ultimately come down to the economy and which candidate is perceived to have the best plan to turn things around. Friedman seems to be willfully ignorant of this and is doing nothing but adding to the list of shiny things the O and his team can hold up to deflect the fact that this administration has been nothing short of incompetent when it comes to the economy.
It just seems to me that Friedman was thinking about what he was going to do on the three-day weekend rather than making sense here - in other words he just mailed this one in. None of his advice stands up to scrutiny. But then again what liberal argument does?