Is President Obama Shifting Right, or Being Shifty?

January 25th, 2011

By Dan Miller

He’s playing both ends against the middle. Nuts? Don’t bet on it.

Has President Obama had a miraculous Paul of Tarsus like conversion while traveling his own road to Damascus? A true Obama moment? According to Rasmussen, his favorable vs. unfavorable ratings have been in the positive range. The country is broke and getting broker by the minute, but so what? There were some leg tingles when he announced a forty-five billion dollar trade deal with China during President Hu’s visit. However, very little was actually new business: “It’s largely an amalgamation of agreements that had already been inked, including Boeing’s $19 billion airplane deal.” Oh well. He has also “appointed GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt to head his newly created Council on Jobs and Competitiveness,” the successor to Paul Volcker’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Oh well again; Immelt may be a crony capitalist and the poster child for corporate welfare but it’s still awesome; the country desperately needs councils and czars and the more the merrier.

The world looks forward anxiously to President Obama’s State of the Union message when ambience will trump substance and there will be at least some attempts to show unity. It won’t be like this event at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 2004 where the members all joined hands and sang Auld Lang Syne; they seemed to enjoy it. The show of unity at the State of the Union address should be spectacular in any event. It will also provide a great comedy routine to amuse our enemies abroad, and a welcome respite from harsh partisan rhetoric for those in the United States. Can President Obama really speak out of both sides of his mouth unaided, or will his ventriloquist be required? How about a split-screen teleprompter?

President Obama recently announced in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece that there are too many stupid old (as distinguished from stupid new) anti-business regulations and that he is going to fix them. Will there by any deregulatory impact on climate initiatives, ObamaCare, and Dodd-Frank? No, only the bad old regulations are up for consideration:

The Clean Air Act … embraced common sense rules of the road that strengthen our country without unduly interfering with the pursuit of progress and the growth of our economy.

Besides, agencies must be held accountable! Of course; but for what and to whom? The people? The Congress? The president? It would be at least a minor miracle if he would or could somehow fix the current mess he worked so hard to make. He won’t:

We have, from time to time, embraced common sense rules of the road that strengthen our country without unduly interfering with the pursuit of progress and the growth of our economy.

Sometimes, those rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business — burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs. At other times, we have failed to meet our basic responsibility to protect the public interest, leading to disastrous consequences. Such was the case in the run-up to the financial crisis from which we are still recovering. There, a lack of proper oversight and transparency nearly led to the collapse of the financial markets and a full-scale Depression.

Over the past two years, the goal of my administration has been to strike the left right balance. And today, I am signing an executive order that makes clear that this is the operating principle of our government.

This order requires that federal agencies ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth. And it orders a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive. It’s a review that will help bring order to regulations that have become a patchwork of overlapping rules, the result of tinkering by administrations and legislators of both parties and the influence of special interests in Washington over decades. [emphasis added]

He should know about the ways in which agency rules can damage the economy because he has been the catalyst for many such rules in the recent past. His signature legislation, ObamaCare, has numerous statements such as “the Secretary shall determine” with little or no statutory guidance as the bases upon which the Secretary is to make his determinations. Such nonsense continues; he claims that the goal of his “administration has been to strike the right balance.” If what has happened thus far reflects his administration’s notion of the “right balance,” then keeping that same balance means more of the same. Is he serious? Of course he is, about getting reelected next year, and the best way to do that is to make noises he hopes will please business while permitting him to continue to boldly go precisely where he has gone before. Drill, baby, drill? Let’s change the subject and talk about something less oily; ObamaCare? That’s off limits too.

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4 Responses to “Is President Obama Shifting Right, or Being Shifty?”



  1. Tom Carter |

    Kind of amazing. In the midst of crushing debt and deficits, a disastrous war in Afghanistan, ever more elusive Middle East peace, a serious economic and currency crisis in Europe, increasing oil prices, bad unemployment — the list goes on — the President is going to tackle administrative rules and regulations.

    It’s also interesting (well, not very) that the President and his party still point to lack of regulation and Wall Street greed as the cause of the recession. That’s partly true, but the housing collapse that resulted from years of Democratic “affordable housing” policies was about equally responsible.

    I liked the video from the Scottish parliament. Remarkable; everyone should watch it. I noted that the Queen was there, but even more important, Sean Connery was there! Many of our members of Congress are pairing up to sit together with a member of the other party at the SOTU instead of the parties staying on their own side of the chamber. At first I thought that was a stupid gimmick, but after watching the video I thought about it some more. Why not? And why couldn’t they all stand and even hold hands and sing American the Beautiful together? I think the American people would love to see that.


  2. Dan Miller |

    I think the version of Auld Lang Syne sung at the 2004 opening of the Scottish Parliament was that recorded and thereby preserved well over two hundred years ago by Robert Burns, one of my favorite poets. The title is said to mean “old long-since or old long-ago.” The second, third and last verses were omitted, but they would have added little to the spirit of unity attempted to be presented.

    Burns was, of course, capable of being rather nasty — probably with good cause; he probably wouldn’t think much of the civility police now infesting the political sphere.

    In se’enteen hunder an’ forty-nine
    The deil gat stuff to mak a swine, and cuist it in a corner;
    But by and by he changed his plan,
    An’ made it something like a man, and ca’d it Andrew Turner.

    Or,

    That there is falsehood in his looks I must and will deny;
    They say their master is a knave – and sure they do not lie.

    Burns was also capable of great tenderness. He was intensely nationalistic and loved Scotland, particularly her past, greatly. There, I think, lies his greatness and his appeal.


  3. Tom Carter |

    I was forced to read Burns now and then. I never could understand what the heck he was saying. This, for example, would probably fail to meet our publication standards if I could understand it:

    O, Jenny’s a’ weet, poor body,
    Jenny’s seldom dry:
    She draigl’t a’ her petticoatie,
    Comin thro’ the rye!


  4. Dan Miller |

    Well, yes. Burns was hardly a prude. I enjoy his poetry — some of it in quite proper King’s English by the way — perhaps because I am of Scots, Irish, German and English descent. If you look at the words used in Scots dialect as well as in Irish brogue, and compare them with German words now in common usage, you will find many similarities.

    This is from the introduction to a collection of Burns’ poetry:

    Although born (on 25 January 1759) into miserable poverty, Burns had by the age of eighteen acquired a good knowledge of English literature and a grounding in Latin, Greek, French and Trigonometry (he was to retain a lifelong interest in mathematics). This was achieved through the determination of his father who was described by Thomas Carlyle as “a man of thoughtful intense character, as the best of our (ie Scotland’s) peasants are, valuing knowledge, possessing some and open minded for more . . . .” Although his mother was largely uneducated, Burns nevertheless imbibed from her a great love for the rich tradition of Scottish balladry.

    Some of the works often attributed to Burns are traditional Scots ballads (Auld Land Syne is one) which he preserved; others are original. I rather like this:

    Your News and Review, Sir, I’ve read through and through, Sir.
    With Little admiring or blaming;
    The papers are barren of home-news or foreign,
    No murders or rapes worth the naming.

    Our friends the Reviewers, those chippers and hewers,
    Are judges of mortar and stone, Sir;
    But of meet or unmeet in a fabric complete,
    I’ll boldly pronounce they are none, Sir.

    My goose-quill too rude is to tell all your goodness
    Bestowed on your servant, the Poet;
    Would to God I had one like the beam of the sun,
    Ad then all the world, Sir, should know it.

    Sometimes I see modern “news” reports in much the same way.


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