How Welcome Should Obama Feel in Omaha?
Omaha, Nebraska has been largely shielded from the economic and social paroxysms that have beset our nation in the last decade – not because we are protected by our many famous and powerful residents, but because we yet adhere to the core values of personal responsibility, rock-solid work ethic, and old-fashioned Midwestern good sense.
As the rest of the nation honed their "peak and valley" skills, Omaha largely avoided the fads, ignoring the siren songs of the economic hucksters and the job-killing fantasies of the social engineers, preferring instead to fix the road ahead rather than blindly blaze new trails to old destinations.
As a result of our collective common sense, Omaha has enjoyed one of the lowest sustained unemployment rates in the country (averaging nearly 4% below the national average), the nation's most affordable real estate market, a business-friendly mindset with a cost of living 19% below national average, and a job growth rate nearly 10% above the national average. Not to mention a rate of crime low enough for other cities to routinely ask, "What's your secret?"
Now, after enduring seven long years of Democrat misrule in Washington, D.C., the major domo of that mediocrity parade intends to come to our city to claim our success as his own.
President Obama will be giving his final State of the Union this evening, followed the next day by a "victory lap" beginning in Omaha. He will be "celebrating the successes" of his policies by coming to a city that neither embraced them nor supported them, and he certainly didn't benefit from them.
Of course, that won't be the narrative the White House will be peddling. Like the inveterate gambler who wears the same socks an entire football season because he's certain his team is winning because of him, the president looks at any good news and ascribes credit to his policies.
This failing is a hallmark of the self-absorbed, and few will argue that our president is not unduly cognizant of his own existence.
When word that the president intends to tout the "successes" of his policies by citing Omaha as an example of his wise leadership reached Omaha, the reaction was swift. The Omaha-based Global Faith Institute immediately released a statement saying, in part:
The Global Faith Institute (GFI) believes the President ought to know the citizens of Omaha have a definition of "success" that differs greatly from his, and we have some questions…
Is it "success" to insist on resettling Syrian refugees knowing we can't adequately screen them?
Is it "success" to protect known front operations of the Muslim Brotherhood in America by halting a pending indictment against them in federal court?
Or perhaps it's a "success" when he says "something must be done" to make America safer, and that "something" turns out to be making life difficult for lawful gun owners rather than dealing with Islamic supremacists and border security.
Omaha anxiously awaits the President's arrival. We'd like to talk about all that "success."
The statement gained traction on social media and among conservative groups well beyond Omaha, leading to plans to organize a counter-rally to the president's visit.
Omaha is also the home of the Tri-Faith Initiative, a project that plans to co-locate a mosque (with Muslim study institute), a church, and a synagogue on the same physical campus, about which I have written previously.
The project has attracted international attention, as has the opposition to it, led by the same Global Faith Institute and its founder, Dr. Mark Christian, a former imam who converted from Islam to Christianity, and whose family yet remain high-ranking advisers to the Muslim Brotherhood in his native Egypt.
The conversion experience led Dr. Christian to change his name, coupled with an urgent need at the time to elude those seeking to fulfill the fatwa calling for his death for apostasy.
The involvement of Susan Buffett (billionaire investor Warren Buffett's daughter) in bankrolling much of the project may be part of the reason for the president choosing Omaha to begin his post-SOTU tour.
He is expected to visit the campus, or at least discuss the project in his speech, perhaps as a thank-you for Warren's support. Regardless of reason, there are many in Omaha who do not support the Tri-Faith Initiative because of their affiliation with the aforementioned "front groups of the Muslim Brotherhood" and don't wish to see their president laud a project that is likely to make their city a target for terrorism.
Of course, any city has fans of this president, and Omaha is not different in that respect, but the supportive segment is a mere fraction of the people who make up the Omaha metropolitan area.
The reaction of the average citizen began with "Huh?" and progressed to "Are you kidding me?" once they heard the reported subject matter of the president's speech. Omaha talk radio exploded with annoyed and upset callers. Social media lit up with a similarly indignant theme.
Although this president's hubris is the stuff of legend, many expressed shock that even this president would dare to claim credit for their hard work and sacrifice.
The comments generally coalesced around the idea that Omaha (like the rest of America) has succeeded in spite of this president's policies, not because of them – that we have weathered his presidency, not benefited from it.
This organic expression of disgust has found an outlet in the above-mentioned counter-rally (to be held the same day) immediately following the president's speech. Local groups are teaming up to gather all the opposition into one location.
If the spontaneous reaction immediately following the announcement of the president's visit is any indication, the story of Omaha's "unwelcoming" committee may be the real story coming out of Omaha that day.
With the Iowa caucuses only a couple weeks away, rumor has it that a Republican presidential candidate or two may poke his head into that counter-rally.
Certainly, it appears that the first stop on Obama's magical victory tour is likely to be spoiled by a dose of Midwestern reality. If the president and his advisers don't anticipate this, then they are more out of touch than any of us ever dreamed. Stay tuned.