Now I’m not going to argue that our new president is a mere “Teleprompter peripheral” or a crypto-Moslem Marxist from Uranus, but I do think it right to raise some questions about his simple competence.
I am not talking here about his claim to have a grand national strategy, meticulously designed to alter the course of American history, reform education, transform American health care, create five million green jobs, lift us out of recession and implement policies which will safeguard against any and all future economic crises. Grandiose claims are an established presidential tradition, shared by all. I don’t know how seriously the voters really take such blather, although they do seem to expect it.
The reality is that our president has not had the time to develop any kind of grand and comprehensive plan. The course of our gigantic government and even more humongous economy, and still more complex culture cannot be dictated by a mere mortal. Experience teaches us that presidents can speed up the growth of government, or they can retard its growth, but they are powerless to control the monster. It simply can’t be done.
It is questionable whether any president has the power to exercise effective control over the vast, blobby educational establishment. The costs of health care have grown steadily about at a rate of 7 percent a year, and the rate is likely to accelerate as the baby-boomers advance steadily to the edge of the grave. Nobody knows how much the president knows about economic policy. Nobody knows what books on economics he had read or whether he has read any and no journalist thinks it worthwhile to ask.
I don’t pretend to understand his economic policies. On one day he signs a $787 billion dollar stimulus bill. The next day he commits to an estimated $275 billion mortgage relief plan. Shortly after he convenes a national conference on fiscal responsibility, followed immediately by a speech to Congress outlining plans for vast expenditures on education, health care and green energy. Even economists in his own camp can’t seem to agree on what to expect. Judgement on his economic competence depends on how he implements his plans and how well they work.
In the meantime, we know only that he is competent get elected and raise a cheer. Consider the evidence.
He launches a campaign to destroy Rush Limbaugh’s influence. El Rushbo’s ratings go sky high.
He announces that the Gitmo camps are to be closed. Eventually. Nobody knows what is to be done with the inmates.
The “reaches out”to Iran, Syria, etc. They respond with wet, resounding raspberries.
He promised great that a kinder, gentler foreign policy will restore American “leadership” in the world and assures the world that America will be a humble leader. He even bows to the King of Saudi Arabia – in public. But the G20 nations decline to endorse his global economic plans and NATO declines to increase its troop deployments in Afghanistan.
He summons the nation to unite behind his new beginnings. He fails to unite the Democratic Congress behind his leadership.
He vowed to go through the federal budget page by page, line by line during the campaign. He signs off on a stimulus bill that no one even pretends to have read all the way through.
His Cap-and-Trade scheme was supposed to transform the American economy and bring our climate under human control. He has failed to bring even the Democratic senate under his control; 26 Democrats have joined all 41 Republicans to require 60 votes for passage of such a program, rendering its passage quite impossible.
So far his competence remains an open question. I’m open to discussion, contradiction and debate on this. I really am. I can be reached by the e-mail address attached to this column by anyone who willing an able to provide evidence demonstrating simple competence.
Professor John Frary of Farmington is a scholar, patriot, gourmand and curmudgeon and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org