Why Voters Turned Against Obama Policies

Why Voters Turned Against Obama Policies

By Jay Ambrose - February 10, 2010

You've got to like President Obama's articulateness, his command of information, his obviously swift intelligence, but here is what you don't have to like about him: his fierce unbending ideology, his endless and increasingly absurd posturing as a saint while insisting opponents are scoundrels and what could turn out to be political klutziness.

He's not an ideologue, he told congressional Republicans when he boldly faced them at a televised caucus meeting, but he is, at least if you define an ideologue not as a stop-at-nothing fanatic, but instead as someone obedient to one or two controlling ideas and values that then tend to inform virtually every aspect of the person's political thinking.

It seems to me that Obama has a controlling idea -- the efficacy and responsibility of big government in taking care of people -- and that his foremost political value is equality, not just equality under the law or even equality of opportunity, but equality of outcome. He may have other political values, such as the one I most revere, liberty, but they are so far behind that, in virtually any contest, equality wins.

There are two primary pieces of evidence that he is an ideologue in the sense I mean, starting with a hugely expensive health care bill that would in effect have given the nation a new entitlement on top of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, three programs that are jeopardizing our future with their unfunded liabilities. The overhaul was most notable for being massive, which is to say, almost surely unworkable and absolutely certain to have cruel and unusual unintended consequences.

Critics came up with a number of prudent, relatively simple steps to begin to achieve the objectives of this legislation without the risks, the costs, the unconstitutional requirement that everyone buy insurance or the hits on business profits, and there was only statist reasons to reject them: They weren't really, really huge and comprehensive, they smelled too much of private enterprise and they would not lead inexorably to a state-run system some years down the road.

The other evidence is an $800 billion stimulus bill that could have achieved its objectives with temporary tax incentives for families to buy and businesses to expand. Instead, it insisted on spending money without doing much of anything to stop rising unemployment and added significantly to this country's frightening debt problem. In other words, don't do the pragmatic, practical thing that works, but extend the reach of government, its power and influence, even if that does not work.

Next: Obama the saint. In his meeting with Republicans, he wanted everyone present to understand that he relies on nothing but facts and logic in his proposals while his critics rely instead on "talking points," arguments meant to fool people instead of educate them. In his State of the Union message, he once again excoriated his opponents for kowtowing to special interests. He also wants you to know just how bipartisan he remains even if his opponents cling to their partisanship as if it was their only rescue.

In fact, his State of the Union speech was full of misleading arguments on every other topic he mentioned, from what he said about clean-energy jobs boosting the economy to his shots at a Supreme Court decision on free speech. His tactic of blaming his predecessor for most of his woes is significantly off base. He is in bed with a number of special interests, including the lawyer lobby and ethanol producers. His idea of bipartisanship is agree with him or shut up. Oh, and by the way, one calculation has it that he has now broken 15 major campaign promises.

It's still too early to count the man a klutzy politician -- he may yet end up with a record of accomplishment -- but it's hard to see much hope for someone whose latest budget does next to nothing to begin fixing the problem of runaway spending and who still seems to think that the basics of his health care plan must be enacted.

Scripps Howard News Service

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