Thursday, February 4, 2010

Barack the Blameaholic

Ed Morrissey posted a great Ramirez cartoon earlier today that hits on a major theme of this week, Obama's perpetual blame strategy. Obama has spent much of his first year in office calling attention to his inheritance.  It is becoming increasingly tiresome for the President of Hope and Change to call attention to failures of the past instead of keeping his nose to the grindstone and delivering a brighter future.  While he or Gibbs may occasionally acknowledge blame shouldn't be a strategy, the President continually reverts to this point.  Perhaps there should be a 12 step program for perpetual blamers, Obama would certainly qualify.

No one can deny there were failures in the Bush administration.  Obama banks on this near universal acceptance hoping no one calls him on his repeated distortions of those failures however.  Yesterday, Keith Hennessey, who served as senior economic advisor to President Bush commented on the blame game:
I think it’s OK for a President to talk about the challenges he and the Nation face. It helps to set reasonable expectations. I think a President should propose solutions to those challenges and describe a brighter future that he hopes to deliver. I think it’s tacky and tiresome for a President to keep bashing his predecessor, especially more than a year after taking office. I acknowledge that my perspective on this point is biased by my professional past.

I also think this refrain weakens President Obama. He is portraying himself as a victim of forces that are beyond his control. A President should want people to focus on him and what he’s going to do, not on a comparison of him with someone else (anyone else). President Obama should want people talking about the Obama Agenda rather than about what happened ten years ago. Ten years ago.
 I have been an avid reader of Hennessey's blog since I first became aware of it, back in the spring.  I would point out that Hennessey is often far more likely to see something positive or give Obama the benefit of the doubt than most.   With this in mind, I think his latest post Ten Years Ago? Seriously? is particularly effective.   Hennessey addresses the numerous ways Obama distorts the record of the Bush administration presumably because he believes it somehow benefits him when in fact it does not.  Obama knows the liberal media is unlikely to correct him on misinterpretations of the Bush record.  The average voter, then, is left to assume Obama is correct in his characterizations.  Here is one example:

Argument:  The Bush policies caused a $200 B annual surplus and “projected surpluses stretching out toward the horizon” to turn into deficits.

Response 1:  This argument always relies on one specific forecast which later turned out to be inaccurate.  In January 2001 CBO projected a 2002 surplus of $313 B.  One year later they projected a 2002 deficit of $21 B.  Of the $334 B decline, CBO said 73% was from “economic and technical changes” beyond President Bush’s control.  The other 27% was the result of legislation.  The impact of policy over time was larger than in 2002 (about 60% over ten years), but it is still incorrect to attribute it all to policy, rather than to a combination of policy and incorrect forecasting.

Be sure to read the rest, it is very informative.  It also is loaded with ammunition against the most common arguments proposed by the left.  They are easily swatted down when you are armed with facts.

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