This time around, the president seems not to have adjusted the scale of his ambitions downward. Columnist Steve Chapman summed it up on Twitter: “Shorter Obama inaugural speech: I’m a liberal. Deal with it.”
Would that it had been shorter. Though most of yesterday’s address was a high‐minded word‐souffle, light on specific policy prescriptions, several passages stuck out. For example: “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”
That’s an odd response to fiscal reality from the president of the self‐styled “reality‐based community.” As my colleague Mike Tanner noted recently, “if one includes the full future unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare, our real indebtedness could run as high as $129 trillion in current dollars.”
“The path towards sustainable energy sources … [is] what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.” I’d thought it was pretty brazen when Energy Secretary Steven Chu dismissed the taxpayers’ half‐billion‐dollar loss in the Solyndra debacle by saying, “One has to take risks in order to promote innovative manufacturing.” But at least Chu stopped short of invoking Jefferson for the administration’s pet green energy schemes.
“Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.” It’s more brazen still to hear a denunciation of “perpetual war” from the president who has institutionalized it. In the investigative report from the Washington Post last fall that introduced us to the term “disposition matrix” (Obama‐Newspeak for “presidential kill list”), we learned that “among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that [drone‐warfare] operations are likely to be extended at least another decade … no clear end is in sight.”
Might I recommend, as a post‐inaugural hangover cure, my new e‐book, “False Idol”? In it, I suggest that “Obama’s failure might, to borrow one of the president’s favorite phrases, serve as a ‘teachable moment,’ encouraging Americans to better align our expectations with reality.”
A president’s magic words cannot “force the spring” to come earlier, “end tyranny in our world,” suspend budgetary math or make the current welfare‐warfare state affordable. It’s past time we learned that lesson.