Monday, February 23, 2009

Playing dress up with schizophrenics

In just a few weeks, President Obama has amazed me more times than I anticipated. His administration is off to a great start…if by great you mean colossally bad.

First of all, Obama has clearly never watched American Idol. One of the dumbest things you can do is choose to sing a song that was ever sung by Whitney Houston. She set the bar too high, and you will almost invariably wind up looking horribly amateurish. Ditto for Presidents. If a president regularly ranks in the top five every year, you’ll have a tough act to follow. Obama seems to think he is some kind of amalgam of Lincoln, FDR, and JKF. Certainly if you’re going to find examples to follow, three of the most beloved presidents in US history are probably a good bet. However, Lincoln preserved the union, FDR presided over the worst war in modern history, and JFK had the good fortune of being assassinated (it’s done wonders for his popularity). Unless Obama plans to go to war with South Carolina, invade France (which I may support-France sucks) or die young, I wouldn’t make obvious comparisons. Obama only has two years before people start talking about the next election. What’s he going to do if the economy hasn’t magically turned around by then? What if his “fireside chats” and sympathetic letter reading have somehow failed to solve in two years a problem 15 years in the making? What if his cabinet of rivals has not given him the mystical key to solving all the problems of modern democracy. What if he spends all my money, and my children’s money, and my grandchildren’s money, and I am no better off than I was before the age of “Camelot?” I’ll tell you: no reelection for you Mr. Obama. We’re all going red, not green-and certainly not blue.

Next, the election has addled Obama’s brain. He seems to think you can do two opposite things at once. On Monday, Obama pledged to dramatically slash our skyrocketing deficit, seemingly minutes after signing a $787 billion dollar stimulus bill. I half expect him to promise to have a press conference announcing his intention to have his cake and eat it too. How in the world to you jack up the deficit while simultaneously slashing it? "We cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences,” says the Commander-in-Chief. I agree. So who’s going to pay for my stimulus package and all the bailouts we’ve been forking over? Rich people. Everyone knows they don’t pay taxes. Just for the sake of argument, I’d like to compare my tax return to my mother-in-laws. I live in a $35-$50,000 tax bracket. She lives in a $75-$100,000 tax bracket. She makes easily double what I do. I get a tax refund every year. What with the EIC and tuition credits, the government pays me more than they took out in taxes for a whole year-three times more. She doesn’t get a tax return. Ever. She and my father-in-law often owe taxes at the end of the year. My point is this: what are poor people complaining about? YOU DON”T PAY TAXES! The government already pays you to get married, and have kids, and go to school and all kinds of other things you were going to do anyway. Rich people pay taxes. Even if they get out of some of them, they still pay way more than I do. So basically, by hiking their taxes up, we make them middle class too, only they don’t get paid for it. Yeah. That’s fair. Go ahead, climb the ladder of success-under Obama’s America, it turns out the ladder is an escalator-you’re not going anywhere.

If it sounds like I want Obama to fail, please believe me when I say I really don’t want him to go down in history as the beginning of the end. I don’t think he’s allied with the devil (I’ve read that on the Internet-I don’t like him but I’m not crazy). I actually think he’s a good, principled man and I very much admire his commitment to his wife and children. It’s just that he’s trying to do good-and a government isn’t meant to do good. It’s supposed to create an environment where the citizenry can do good. He’s going to wind up a sad little man wearing Lincoln’s stove pipe hat, FDR’s leg-braces flashing JFK’s signature smile while he chases his tail all the way back home to Illinois, with a country no better off, and more than a little disillusioned.