Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One Man, Many Ideas

President Obama is a man of many ideas. Sometimes these seem to randomly join together to form a larger vision, but more often they're scattershot, coming from all points across the political spectrum to collectively present a man not of deep thinking or complexity, but of profound confusion and unwarranted faith in himself. Consider:

Obama kicked off today's presser with a boast of all he's done to boost business, specifically by studying how burdensome regulations might be reformed. Later during the Q & A, a reporter asked about the National Labor Relations Board's threats against Boeing for trying to open a non-union facility in South Carolina. Seemingly being just the sort of burdensome government interference Obama proposed reforming only minutes earlier, one might've expected him to use the opportunity to pledge to remove this roadblock and clear the way for Boeing to create these much-needed jobs; instead he extolled the virtues of government regulations, crediting them with keeping the air clean, the water pure, the food edible. And, presumably, union workers happy.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from today's speech is Obama's strong desire to hike taxes on "corporate jet owners," whom he suggested were somehow guilty for amassing America's national debt. With aviation on the mind, Obama also relayed his opinion that the airline industry is one of America's dominant sectors and that he planned to ensure its continued success. So America's jet culture is a point of pride, or enmity? Hard to say.

Today's topic, of course, was America's ever-worsening debt crisis. Early on, Obama said we must take a "balanced" approach (not, by the way, toward budgeting, but toward mixing spending cuts with tax hikes). Yet while he was clear enough he sought to raise Americans' taxes, he was less clear regarding where he proposed cutting. He actually rattled off several spending areas he considered inviolable -- e.g., the budgets of the National Weather Service, food inspectors, medical research, scholarships, programs for seniors. Addressing congressional Republicans, Obama lectured that it's time past-time to make some "tough choices" and, presumably, jack up taxes. Tough choices for thee, not for me.

By the time all was said and done, Obama boasted of being a "tax cutting" president, while also bashing tax cuts as irresponsible and unethical, and then supporting them again when discussing business investments; he insisted the Constitution plays no role in his decision to invade Libya, while also saying his decision to unilaterally revoke the Defense of Marriage Act was motivated by his devotion to the Constitution; he claimed to avoid doing"scare tactics," while also telling senior citizens that Republicans planned to cut off anticipated benefits; he roared that he's the president of the United States and he's here "to lead," while also explaining that the debt crisis is so important he delegated the task to Vice President Biden.

In all, today made for a very confusing introspection into the inner workings of President Obama's mind. But that isn't to say there are no clear takeaways. In every instance, Obama expressed complete confidence that his ideas were perfect (even when they contradicted each other). And while he invoked certain conservative ideas -- tax cuts, spending cuts, a strong foreign policy -- he more passionately offered ideas that undermined the conservative ones. A cynic might say Obama doesn't really believe everything he says. That he marches forward a very liberal agenda, but under a banner preaching conservatism. I'd tend to agree with such a cynic.