The Vote of the Conflicted Liberal

Richard Cohen is a very, very disappointed man. The WaPo columnist admits he is disenchanted with President Obama. He thought Obama was going to be RFK in spades.

I once wondered if Obama could be another RFK. The president has great political skills and a dazzling smile. He and his wife are glamorous figures. He's a black man, and that matters greatly.

He now realizes that Obama is no RFK.  Kennedy's passions were real. While watching a film of RFK in Appalachia and in Mississippi and seeing  Kennedy's  reaction to the "the pitifully emaciated poor,"  he writes,

Kennedy brimmed with shock and indignation, with sorrow and sympathy, and was determined -- you could see it on his face -- to do something about it. I've never seen that look on Barack Obama's face.

Kennedy's causes were real. But Cohen has come to the "melancholy" conclusion that Obama's are just play acting. Obama's "causes" are out there to make him look good before adoring crowds, "The crowd adored Obama, although not as much as I think he adored himself."

Even in the centerpiece legislation of the Obama administration, the Affordable Health Care Act, Cohen writes, "It turned out he had no cause at all. Expanding health insurance was Hillary Clinton's long-time goal and even after Obama adopted it, he never argued for it with any fervor." Moreover, " ... when he took office, climate change was abandoned -- too much trouble, too much opposition. His eloquence, it turned out, was reserved for campaigning." In summary Cohen writes,

Obama never espoused a cause bigger than his own political survival. This is the gravamen of the indictment from the left, particularly certain African-Americans. They are right. Young black men fill the jails and the morgues, yet Obama says nothing. Bobby Kennedy showed his anger, his impatience, his stunned incredulity at the state of black America. Obama shows nothing.

But guess what? He is going to vote for him anyway. He is going to vote for him "to keep the Republican vandals from sacking the government" and because "He steered the country around the banking, housing and financial crisis that threatened to crater the economy."

But the economy did crater. The financial crisis cost Americans trillions in investment losses, home equity declines, and unemployment and lost wages. But Cohen is going to vote for Obama because he saved the economy from cratering? Let's be charitable. He must mean that Obama's policies are steering us out of the economic crater.

Let's give total credence to the argument that Obama inherited an overheated economy which was the result of the economic policies of his predecessors. Trillions of dollars had been pumped into the housing bubble by easy money and easy lending policies. Mortgage-backed securities composed of toxic subprime loans had been spread across the world financial community by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Investment banks  over-invested in those securities and, misled by negative real interest rates,  dove lemming like, into massive overleveraging. Let us grant all of that.

Did Obama's policies pull us out of the crater? Not according to a recent article in Investor's Business Daily by Ferrara and Uhler. (Ferrara is a director of the Heartland Institute, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis and senior policy advisor for entitlement reform and budget policy at the National Tax Limitation Foundation. Uhler is founder and president of the National Tax Limitation Foundation.)

According to Ferrara and Uhler, Obama's policies have led to the weakest recovery since the Great Depression, with only a third or less of the growth in Reagan's real recovery. Unemployment has remained above 8% for the longest period since the Great Depression. "Millions more have dropped out of the work force, with the lowest labor participation rate in over 30 years. Real wages and incomes have plummeted, even more since the recession was supposedly over. Poverty and dependency have soared to the highest totals in American history."

This is steering us out of a cratering economy? Obama's stimulus policies have stimulated nothing but government spending,  government debt, regulatory costs and, according to many economist, he is steering us toward an economic cliff.

Obama has gone wild with new regulatory costs and burdens, from EPA, to Dodd-Frank, to ObamaCare, and beyond.

And instead of anti-inflation, strong dollar monetary policies that make every American holding a dollar richer, Obama has led the cheerleading for continued weak dollar, zero interest rate, pro-inflation monetary policies that have made every American holding a dollar poorer.

Moreover, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported just last Tuesday that employers issued 1,316 "mass layoff actions" (affecting 50 workers or more) in September; more than 122,000 workers were affected overall. USA Today financial reporter and former IBD writer Matt Krantz wrote that "much of the recent layoff activity is connected to what's been the slowest period of earnings growth since the third quarter of 2009."

So Cohen admits he going to vote for a phony, self-infatuated President. But just to keep his WaPo job he is also going to vote for another economic crater. He is going to vote for more  government spending, deficits and debt. He is going to vote for the biggest government spender in world history. Instead of voting for a president who will pursue anti-inflationary, strong dollar monetary policies that make every American holding a dollar richer, he is, according to Ferrarar and Uhler, going to vote for a man who has  "led the cheerleading for continued weak dollar, zero interest rate, pro-inflation monetary policies that have made every American holding a dollar poorer."

At some level Cohen must know the Obama-saved-the-economy narrative is phony. But vote he must or face excommunication by the high priests of never-never land, Krugman, Friedman and Maureen Dowd. Pathetic.