The mainstream media have finally caught on to the president’s agenda, more than a year after this author exposed it in this pages. On New Year’s Day, the Los Angeles Times carried a story detailing Barack Obama’s strategy for 2012: bypass Congress and rule by executive order. The Times quoted Obama adviser Josh Earnest’s curt euphemism that, “In terms of the president’s relationship with Congress in 2012…the president is no longer tied to Washington, D.C.” The newspaper then outlined the president’s agenda:
As the year unfolds, Obama will use executive authority to roll out more initiatives designed to boost the economy and assist struggling families, the White House aide said. Obama has already unveiled 20 such measures under the White House’s new slogan, “We can’t wait.”
Earnest said that the White House’s goal was to contrast the image of a “gridlocked, dysfunctional Congress” with “a president who’s leaving no stone unturned to try to find solutions to the difficult financial challenges and economic challenges facing this country.”
Earnest — who must have been chosen for his surname — concluded working with Congress is “no longer a requirement.”
Well, Los Angeles Times, it’s about time. This author exposed that strategy in fall 2010, before the election. We have commented on it numerous times since. Yet more than 15 months later, the prestige media treat Earnest’s earnestness as a revelation.
Earnest further revealed Obama will push for his “jobs” bill, try to bolster employment in the public sector, and focus on building jobs through — wait for it! — infrastructure. (Shovel ready jobs 2.0.) But he thinks he will do better to ignore Congress altogether and campaign, Truman-style, against a “do-nothing Congress.”
This means Obama’s 2012 strategy is the opposite of Bill Clinton’s after his midterm repudiation in 1994. True, Clinton issued 364 executive orders, more than any other president to date. His adviser, Paul Begala, expressed his view when he said: “Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Pretty cool.” But Clinton also adjuted to political reality.
Put another way, he wimped out.
Clinton brought in Dick Morris, “triangulated,” and co-opted longstanding Republican issues like welfare reform and deficit cutting. Obama has decided to do the opposite: shun Congress, ignore the will of the people, and keep pushing his free-spending agenda with tin-eared phrases and self-assured bluster. But Bill Clinton craved adulation and lacked convictions. Obama exudes reptilian indifference to the public and is inflexibly mired in his left-wing orthodoxy. Clinton panicked if his opinion polls dipped three points in a day. Obama believes if the American people don’t accept his agenda, it’s because they are too intellectually inept and he didn’t explain himself well enough. Bill faked right; Obama flipped the bird.
Let’s hope there is one additional difference between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama: Bill Clinton got re-elected.