President Obama has received some well-deserved mockery for his factually inaccurate swipes at President Rutherford B. Hayes (yes, really) and Christopher Columbus’s contemporaneous critics. But his comments, made during his campaign-rally-esque energy address yesterday, are also revealing because of what they indicate about Obama himself. From his speech:
“Of course, we’ve heard this kind of thinking before. If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail, they must have been founding members of the Flat Earth Society. … There always have been folks who are the naysayers and don’t believe in the future, and don’t believe in trying to do things differently. One of my predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone, ‘It’s a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?’ That’s why he’s not on Mt. Rushmore because he’s looking backwards. He’s not looking forwards. He’s explaining why we can’t do something, instead of why we can do something.”
In Obama’s mind, his critics aren’t just wrong, they’re idiots. Obama, in contrast, is a grand visionary of epic capacity – the type of man who in the past would have ended up on Mt. Rushmore or captaining the voyage that led to the discovery of America.
And yet, where has this amazing foresight been in the years since Obama took office? His advisors claim they underestimated the impact of the economic crisis and miscalculated federal deficit projections. Obama’s attempts to mend the Israeli-Palestinian peace process only drove the two sides further apart, and his administration was caught off guard and woefully unprepared by the Arab Spring.
Then there’s energy policy. There are plenty of blunders to criticize, but let’s focus on a major one: the collapse of Solyndra. Here’s what Obama had to say when ABC News asked whether he regretted pouring over $500 million in taxpayer funds into a now-bankrupt company that he once lauded as the model of his green-jobs program:
“Hindsight is always 20/20,” Obama told “Good Morning America” anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview broadcast online Monday. “It went through the regular review process and people felt that it was a good bet.”
Hindsight may be 20/20, but you’d have to be blind to miss all the warning signs that Solyndra was a dangerous investment.
And this is the person we’re supposed to trust as the brilliant diviner of our energy future? For someone with a track record of placing losing bets, Obama really does put a remarkable amount of stock in his own visionary prowess. Then again, it’s always easier when you’re gambling with somebody else’s money.