June 8, 2010
Barack Obama's Day OffBy J. Robert Smith
So is it “Bueller, Bueller” or “Obama, Obama?”
It's turning out that Barack Obama isn't just the nation's 44th president. Mr. Obama is also the nation's first Ferris Bueller president, whose day off started on January 20 last year and runs through the same day in 2013. But Mr. Obama's hijinx aren't nearly as amusing as Ferris Bueller's. In fact, Mr. Obama's class-cutting and shenanigans are doing a lot of harm to the country. The Obama presidency, unlike Ferris Bueller's Day Off, isn't going to end so happily.
Evidence of latent Buellerism in the person of Barack Obama abounds. Take more recently the Gulf oil spill. As the gooey stuff belched to the ocean surface, as it spread in ever-widening reddish-brown circles, as it threatened coastlines and bayous, Mr. Obama showed no sense of urgency. We're left scratching our heads over how Mr. Obama could be shooting hoops and golfing and flitting about when plenty of ground time in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast was called for. Only now, with mounting political heat, is Mr. Obama jetting to the Pelican State to engage Cajuns, Creoles, and just about everybody else. Mr. Obama's detachment is curious, given that he was one of the chorus who castigated George W. Bush for his alleged inaction in the aftermath of Katrina.
We're learning -- for those of us, like James Carville, who need the learning -- that Barack Obama is a heckuva talker. But he isn't much for walking the walk. President Obama wears lofty like a finely tailored suit. Gritty -- as in the down-and-dirty of everyday governance -- is for Mr. Obama like a cheap pair of off-the-rack trousers: He wouldn't be caught dead in them.
To be fair to Ferris Bueller, as played by Matthew Broderick, Bueller wasn't highfalutin. He was a combination Goodtime Charley and imp with a pinch of rogue. Bueller had "American" written all over him. Mr. Obama increasingly has "effete" -- as in Western European effete -- written all over him. Sloppy sandwiches and BBQ are for Candidate Obama. President Obama likes nights out with Michelle in Manhattan, transportation compliments of taxpayers.
More evidence of Mr. Obama's Buellerism: His use -- or abuse -- of the nation's credit cards. Mr. Obama's spending rampage in less than eighteen months would make any shopaholic blush. Even Ferris Bueller might have paused before ruining his mom's and dad's credit ratings. But not President Obama -- the nation's solvency and credit ratings be damned.
In an orgy of Boomer indulgence, Barack Obama is out-debting and out-deficiting every chief executive since George Washington -- no kidding. It's not just a bromide that if Mr. Obama's borrowing and spending aren't stopped soon, our kids and grandkids will curse the day Boomers and Xers were born -- born to grow up and dump mountains of debt on them. Either Boomers and Xers make a real fight for fiscal sanity, or they'll be tagged forevermore with the "Worst Generations" moniker. No future Reagan will stand over their graves eulogizing them for their courage and sacrifices.
In Mr. Obama there's a certain Buellerian disdain for authority, a disdain for the successful established order of things. It's there in Mr. Obama's face and eyes; they aren't jaunty like FDR's or affable like Reagan's. Mr. Obama's visage is often dour. His eyes betray a hint of anger and grudge.
The Obama tenure has been one big trashing of America. Barack Obama is the incarnation of the left's long-desired revenge for Reagan's successful presidency. Free markets work -- make them less free. Health care needs fixes, yes, but a drastic overhaul leading to government control? Not on your life (and it may be on your life). Lower taxes incentivize productivity and risk -- so kick up taxes, even for the middle class. And if you really want to bludgeon free enterprise into submission, hammer it with cap-and-trade laws. Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congress are cooking up cap-and-trade legislation now.
As to American exceptionalism, Mr. Obama has been no less disdainful. The Bow and Scrape Tour that started Mr. Obama's presidency was designed to show world leaders -- including the rakes and rogues -- that the U.S. was quite willing and capable of coming to heel. America, henceforth, would be collegial with Kim Jong-il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chávez, China's dictators, and the nefarious and corrupt crowd at the United Nations. The U.S., according to Mr. Obama's lights, is about as exceptional as the Congo or Moldova.
The world, though, is a pretty scary street corner. Mr. Obama's chumminess and groveling seems to be earning him only contempt, at least judging from the reactions of Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-il. Building a village isn't of interest to the mullahs and Ahmadinejad; building nuclear weapons is. The dotty Kim Jong-il rattles sabers and sinks a South Korean warship. Neighborliness and fair play are relative things to dictators and predators -- just like the truth is to the left.
Yet Mr. Obama's New Universal Collegiality doesn't extend to every nation. America's stalwart allies, Great Britain and Israel, have come up against Mr. Obama's animus, Israel especially so. God's chosen people haven't been chosen by President Obama for any special favor. Never mind that the Israelis have stuck by the U.S through thick and thin. Israel long ago ceased to be a cause célèbre among the left. The Israelis, you see, are too successful. They turned away from socialism and built a vibrant capitalist economy; they win fights against their enemies. And among Israel's enemies, the left has newish poster-children: the Palestinians.
Palestinians have all the right ingredients to be loved by the left: a little socialist adherence, a lot of third-world grievance, and some old-fashioned gangsterism (the left adores bare-knuckled power).
So in Obama World, the Jews get the disdain and the Palestinians get the sympathy -- along now with the Turks, whose prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, received a call from Mr. Obama commiserating the loss of nine peace thugs slain by Israeli Marines aboard the Rachel Corrie. The Turks have recently changed their thinking, tacking toward radicalized Islam and making nice with Iran's mullahs and the aforementioned Ahmadinejad.
But Mr. Obama's Buellerian disdain reaches its height over the nation's founding principles. Limited government has been trampled on for years by liberals; now Mr. Obama is trying to junk it. Judges -- why get started? For Mr. Obama, judges are like actors in improvisational theatre: They're free to make up the law as they go along. Original intent? Knuckle-dragging gobbledygook. And why wait for Congress to enact laws when president-hired czars and bureaucracies -- the EPA comes to mind -- can enact policy through fiat or tangled interpretations of the law?
Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art? At the White House, it seems that the president is doing his level-best to out-Bueller the fictional Ferris Bueller. Mr. Obama's day off is quite a doozy, and one the nation won't recover from for a long time.