Commentary Magazine


Obama’s Empty Threats

In the president’s press conference today, there were several things that stood out. Obama continued his compulsive need to blame others for his problems. He continued to make transparently untrue claims (such as implying that “every independent economist” agrees with his second stimulus package and insisting that the Solyndra decision was “made on the merits”). He continued to portray himself as a man of incomparable political virtues and his opponents as selfish, uncooperative partisans.

None of this is new; in fact, the act is all getting a bit tiresome. But what particularly amused me is the president’s imperiousness.

When demanding approval of so-called jobs bill, Obama essentially threatened Republicans: If they vote against the legislation, the president said, then they’ll have to “explain to me” why they voted against it. On several occasions the president returned to this theme: voting against Stimulus II will require Republicans to answer not only to their constituents but to The Great and Mighty Obama. Every senator who even dares to entertain the thought of voting against what the president wants had better think “long and hard” about doing so. If not, after all, Obama may use their vote against them in 2012.

To which Republicans might respond: Is that a promise? Because the best route for a Republican sweep in 2012 is to have the president attack you for opposing him.

It’s all very odd. Obama is acting as if his approval ratings are in the mid-60s instead of the low 40s. He’s acting as if Republicans fear him instead of Democrats like Senator Claire McCaskill, who no longer want to be seen with him. The president is acting like his agenda is popular rather than radioactive. He’s acting as if the public still cares what he thinks rather than having tuned him out long ago. And he’s acting as if Republicans will feel compelled to justify their opposition to this singularly inept chief executive and his failing presidency.

Obama is once again trying to weave a narrative that is utterly detached from the real world. From time to time my son does the same thing.

He’s seven years old.

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