April 2, 2012

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Peggy Noonan says the president is coming across as devious and dishonest.

… The shift started on Jan. 20, with the mandate that agencies of the Catholic Church would have to provide services the church finds morally repugnant. The public reaction? “You’re kidding me. That’s not just bad judgment and a lack of civic tact, it’s not even constitutional!” Faced with the blowback, the president offered a so-called accommodation that even its supporters recognized as devious. Not ill-advised, devious. Then his operatives flooded the airwaves with dishonest—not wrongheaded, dishonest—charges that those who defend the church’s religious liberties are trying to take away your contraceptives.

What a sour taste this all left. How shocking it was, including for those in the church who’d been in touch with the administration and were murmuring about having been misled.

Events of just the past 10 days have contributed to the shift. There was the open-mic conversation with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in which Mr. Obama pleaded for “space” and said he will have “more flexibility” in his negotiations once the election is over and those pesky voters have done their thing. On tape it looked so bush-league, so faux-sophisticated. When he knew he’d been caught, the president tried to laugh it off by comically covering a mic in a following meeting. It was all so . . . creepy.

Next, a boy of 17 is shot and killed under disputed and unclear circumstances. The whole issue is racially charged, emotions are high, and the only memorable words from the president’s response were, “If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon” At first it seemed OK—not great, but all right—but as the story continued and suddenly there were death threats and tweeted addresses and congressmen in hoodies, it seemed insufficient to the moment. At the end of the day, the public reaction seemed to be: “Hey buddy, we don’t need you to personalize what is already too dramatic, it’s not about you.”

Now this week the Supreme Court arguments on ObamaCare, which have made that law look so hollow, so careless, that it amounts to a characterological indictment of the administration. The constitutional law professor from the University of Chicago didn’t notice the centerpiece of his agenda was not constitutional? How did that happen?

Maybe a stinging decision is coming, maybe not, but in a purely political sense this is how it looks: We were in crisis in 2009—we still are—and instead of doing something strong and pertinent about our economic woes, the president wasted history’s time. …


Liz Peek at Fiscal Times says Obamacare derailed the economic recovery.

Here we go again. All eyes are on the Supreme Court as it wrestles with whether or not President Obama’s healthcare bill is constitutional. The country is divided on the merits of the law, but this we can say with certainty: Obamacare profoundly gummed up our recovery from the financial crisis.

Like every predecessor, President Obama has made mistakes. Perhaps none will cloud his legacy more that his decision to focus on overhauling our healthcare system early in his administration – before our economic recovery had gained enduring momentum.

Assuming that the $800 billion Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka the stimulus, would work the magic promised by his economics team, Mr. Obama set off on his quest to guarantee healthcare for every American. The resulting food fight over the legislation – the ugly parceling out of favors in return for votes and lies told to justify passage — permanently damaged President Obama’s reputation, divided a country desperate to heal, and distracted the White House from further efforts to build employment. It was a terrible decision, and the country continues to pay for it.

It was, ironically, a decision made by a president eager to secure his legacy. Undaunted by the abject failure of Hilary Clinton to win support for universal healthcare, Mr. Obama took up the quest with enthusiasm. Just as he admitted to excessive optimism about bringing peace to the Middle East in an interview in Time Magazine, dubbing that effort “really hard,” Mr. Obama naively staked his presidency on healthcare reform. Here’s a shocker: remaking 17 percent of the economy is also “really hard.”


James Pethokoukis agrees that the president can be blamed for the weak recovery.

Not even the most die-hard, partisan Democrats would dare argue that the Obama recovery has been especially vigorous. Instead, they argue that the new president was dealt an impossible hand.

But was he?

Nearly three years after the Great Recession officially ended, the jobless rate is still above 8 percent — the longest stretch of such high unemployment since the Great Depression. Add back in all the discouraged job seekers and the part-timers who wished they had full-time gigs, and the unemployment rate is just shy of 15 percent.

While the economy is growing, it’s not growing rapidly. At this point in the typical post-World War II recovery, the economy was growing at an average pace of nearly 5 percent. The Obama recovery has managed just over 2 percent average annual GDP growth.

Indeed, take-home pay for US workers, adjusted for rising prices, has actually fallen over the last year.

Then there’s the moribund housing market. …


Kevin Williamson catches Elizabeth Warren at a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast/roast in South Boston. This profile from National Review should convince you support for Scott Brown is almost as important as defeating the kid president. After all, she claims to have “created much of the intellectual foundation” for the Occupy crowd.

Elizabeth Warren would be a catastrophe in the Senate, but she is hell on wheels when it comes to directing human traffic, which is no small thing at the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in Boston. She goes bulling her way through a crowd of faces the color of 2 percent milk, sicklied o’er with the pale cast of Southie Irishness, or rendered rosy by the effects of seriously draining down a full bar that opened at eight o’clock on a Sunday morning, plowing through like she’s just graduated from a seminar in Advanced Executive Body Language, all exaggerated masculine gestures and “Yes! I am very seriously paying attention to you!” head bobs and vigorous “This is what Sincerity looks like . . . approximately!” power nods, complemented by “Move along, sir!” shoulder grips followed by quick and vigorous “Back the Hell Off” chest pats when some florid Southie denizen moves in for a hug — she is like Moses parting the kelly green sea. She is a populist in search of a people, and the wall-eyed gang shout-singing “Southie Is My Home Town” and chasing their eggs and rashers with Jameson on the rocks isn’t it. St. Patrick’s Day, as state senator Jack Hart (“Senator Hot,” in the local pronunciation) reminds the crowd, is also celebrated in Boston as Evacuation Day, and Warren looks like she is in dire need of an emergency airlift back to Cambridge. …

Villains must be identified and crucified, plain facts be damned. And that is really the truth that Elizabeth Warren is speaking when she says of Occupy Wall Street: “I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do.”

Warren is everything her admirers say she is — smart, tough, principled — and almost everything her critics say — out of touch, ideological, narrow. The one inaccurate barb thrown at her is that she’s homely — “Granny Warren,” Senator Brown’s factota call her. She isn’t. If she were lined up at a party with a representative cross section of 62-year-old American women, Warren would be the one you’d ask to dance. But there is a meanness in her, a nasty little puritanical streak gone left, and her secularized Puritanism is probably the most Massachusetts thing about her. Like Hillary Clinton, she has Methodist roots and cites the Wesleyan approach as key to the development of her political thinking.


The Dem mayor of Boston is not backing her according to The Hill.

Popular Boston Mayor Tom Menino — an influential Democrat many have credited with bringing the party’s convention to his hometown in 2004 — told WBZ this week that he wasn’t taking sides in Massachusetts’s high-profile Senate race.

But Menino’s reluctance to put the weight of his campaign operation behind Harvard professor and consumer rights activist Elizabeth Warren is a tough blow for the Democrat, who is hoping to upset incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown. …

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