Francois Hollande takes half a page from Obama playbook

Jerry Shenk
New French President Francois Hollande has publicly stated that his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, underestimated France's budget problems. Sound familiar? Not coincidentally, the European Union lowered growth forecasts for France and for the entire Union.

Nonetheless, Hollande remains convinced that there remains room for him to fulfill his campaign promises: "No, we had already expected this," he said in remarks to French television.

That's where France's new president and his American counterpart differ. Now, with full knowledge of the budgetary problems his country faces, Hollande is determined to pursue policies that will undermine Sarkozy's and the greater European move toward austerity. Hollande's public statement assures that any negative outcomes from implementing those policies will be his responsibility alone to bear.

In contrast, after more than three years in office, American President Barack Obama has yet to give up the tired narrative that an "unexpectedly" severe fiscal problem he "inherited" from George W. Bush have set back his administration and will require four more years to resolve -- four more Obama White House years.

Much like Hollande's critique of his predecessor in France, Obama's "blame Bush" campaign began the day after his inauguration. But, where Hollande limited his criticism of Sarkozy to France's budget problems and appears willing to assume responsibility for the outcomes of his own policies, Barack Obama and his vice president continue to blame Bush for everything from high gas prices to Obama's foreign policy failures. The date of the Biden comments is May 8, 2012, a full forty months after he and Obama took office.

Clearly Obama's campaign is determined to hide his poor performance while in office, and, where concealment is not an option, to divert attention from Obama's failures by blaming them on events and policies that have not been in place for more than three years. Either Obama is stupid, or he thinks we are. For the record, I don't think Obama is stupid -- and neither does he.

New French President Francois Hollande has publicly stated that his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, underestimated France's budget problems. Sound familiar? Not coincidentally, the European Union lowered growth forecasts for France and for the entire Union.

Nonetheless, Hollande remains convinced that there remains room for him to fulfill his campaign promises: "No, we had already expected this," he said in remarks to French television.

That's where France's new president and his American counterpart differ. Now, with full knowledge of the budgetary problems his country faces, Hollande is determined to pursue policies that will undermine Sarkozy's and the greater European move toward austerity. Hollande's public statement assures that any negative outcomes from implementing those policies will be his responsibility alone to bear.

In contrast, after more than three years in office, American President Barack Obama has yet to give up the tired narrative that an "unexpectedly" severe fiscal problem he "inherited" from George W. Bush have set back his administration and will require four more years to resolve -- four more Obama White House years.

Much like Hollande's critique of his predecessor in France, Obama's "blame Bush" campaign began the day after his inauguration. But, where Hollande limited his criticism of Sarkozy to France's budget problems and appears willing to assume responsibility for the outcomes of his own policies, Barack Obama and his vice president continue to blame Bush for everything from high gas prices to Obama's foreign policy failures. The date of the Biden comments is May 8, 2012, a full forty months after he and Obama took office.

Clearly Obama's campaign is determined to hide his poor performance while in office, and, where concealment is not an option, to divert attention from Obama's failures by blaming them on events and policies that have not been in place for more than three years. Either Obama is stupid, or he thinks we are. For the record, I don't think Obama is stupid -- and neither does he.