Thomas Friedman: ‘Barack Obama is worst president I’ve ever seen’
posted at 12:52 pm on May 27, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
Oh, forgive me. I was quoting out of context. What Friedman actually wrote in a Saturday op-ed was:
Barack Obama is a great orator, but he is the worst president I’ve ever seen when it comes to explaining his achievements, putting them in context, connecting with people on a gut level through repetition and thereby defining how the public views an issue.
I committed the sin of quoting out of context because I thought that was acceptable practice among liberal members of the press and the political class. They certainly had a field day with Mitt Romney’s comment in February about not being “concerned about the very poor,” purposely omitting the following explanatory sentence about a built-in societal “safety net.” Admittedly, the remark was a stupid one to make in the first place, but it was made far more pernicious by being taken out of context.
But let’s get back to Friedman’s argument. It is one Obama made himself multiple times. In 2010, the president said with respect to the wildly unpopular health care reform act that if he just explained it, say by giving a speech (or two … or three hundred), the American people would finally embrace the law (assuming they had the brains to understand the thought processes of a man of his stature).
Friedman in his musings takes another shot at explaining ObamaCare on the president’s behalf. He writes, “Think about this: Is there anyone in America today who doesn’t either have a pre-existing medical condition or know someone who does and can’t get health insurance as a result? Yet two years after Obama’s health care bill became law, how many Americans understand that once it is fully implemented no American with a pre-existing condition will ever again be denied coverage?”
There is no question that eliminating the one-year waiting period on pre-existing conditions is a good thing. That is why it appears in the Republican plan to replace ObamaCare with a viable reform package that includes other benefits ObamaCare doesn’t, such as portability of premium purchases across state lines and tort reform, both of which would drive down the cost.
Friedman turns to another topic that he thinks Obama did a lousy job of explaining: His auto bailout. Not only, Friedman writes, did Obama “save the auto industry from bankruptcy” but “he also got all the top U.S. automakers to agree to increase mileage for their vehicle fleets to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, from 27.5 m.p.g. today.” As proof of what a positive development this is, Friedman quotes a Popular Mechanics article that proclaims this as “the largest mandatory fuel economy increase in history.” This time it is Friedman who quotes out of context. Here is rest of the Popular Mechanics article, beginning with the next paragraph.
The ambitious new standards have encountered strong opposition from automakers, who suggest that the rules will mean large increases in cars’ sticker prices. But, as part of the announcement (where the CEOs of the Detroit big three and several foreign automakers were in attendance), Obama said that consumers would save an average of $8000 per vehicle in reduced fuel costs once the regulations are in full effect in 2025.
Make no mistake about it: The new regulations are hugely important. They will save consumers boatloads of money they would’ve spent on gas, drastically reduce American’s fuel consumption and carbon footprint and change the way cars are made. But, they present a major challenge to automakers, who must determine what technologies or combination of technologies will allow average fleet fuel economy to climb so high. They’ve got a lot of work to do.
Andrew Del-Colle, the author of the quoted article,is enthusiastic about the proposal—but expresses serious reservations about whether the plan is do-able. So far, there is nothing beyond a pie-in-the-sky promise from an administration that has a proven track record of breaking its promises.
In fact here is another the Obama White House made vis-à-vis the auto bailout: “The money that this administration invested, about $60 billion, we believe we’re on the path to recouping all of that.” That was on July 30, 2011. But on December 11 of that year, then-car czar Steven Rattner sang a different tune about recouping that $60 billion.
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