‘Newsweek’ cover story: Obama’s got to go
posted at 11:15 am on August 20, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
Well, he’s done it again. President Barack Obama has once made the cover of Newsweek. This time, however, it’s different. The photo of him is one in which he appears to be walking away, his suit jacket slung over his shoulder with Sinatra-esque insouciance. The title of the cover story—“Hit the Road, Barack: Why We Need a New President”—is also a departure.
The analysis, which one guesses carries a disclaimer by the editorial staff somewhere inside the print edition (something to the effect that the views expressed herein are not those of thee editors), is by Niall Ferguson, a professor of history at Harvard and a senior research fellow at both Oxford and Stanford. The author gave viewers of the Sunday talk news circuit a preview of his lamentations over the Obama presidency, or more specifically its unfulfilled promises, on Sunday’s Face the Nation.
Ferguson, who was an adviser to John McCain and freely admits as much in the article, professes sadness over the disconnect between Obama’s “soaring oratory” and “cool, hard-to-ruffle temperament” in 2004 and the sobering reality four years later. “The question confronting the country” now, he writes, “is not who was the better candidate four years ago. It is whether the winner has delivered on his promises. And the sad truth is that he has not.”
What follows is a laundry list of failures: the net loss of private-sector jobs, the addition of 3.6 million Americans to Social Security’s disability roles (a way, Ferguson notes, of concealing unemployment realities), GDP growth that slowed to a 1.8% crawl in 2011, chronically high unemployment, a much-vaunted and equally despised health-care reform law, and (pièce de résistance) a $5 trillion increase to the national debt.
Ferguson commiserates with Newsweek readers (at those that are still paying attention) over the fact that half the U.S. population pays not a penny in taxes, a percentage matched by the number of households in which at least one member receives some type of government benefit.
All of this occurs in the first 700 words of the article. After that, Ferguson rolls up his sleeves and gets busy talking about America’s rapidly diminishing role as a player on the world stage. He talks about how Obama failed to be proactive in planting the seeds of democracy in Iran when the chance came around, about the pass he has gotten from the liberal media over a 16% increase in civilian casualties last year from drone attacks.
There is more about Obama’s failure to halve the deficit during his first term, as he promised. And Ferguson has kind words for Paul Ryan, whom he admits to liking and admires as “one of only a handful of politicians in Washington who is truly sincere about addressing this country’s fiscal crisis.”
The question is not whether Niall Ferguson knows what he’s talking about. In his latest book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, he lays out his arguments meticulously. The question rather is who he is talking to in his Newsweek cover story. According to the latest scuttlebutt there are few undecided voters left in this election. Obama adherents have made up their minds, and when they read an article like Ferguson’s, the more learned among them note that GOP ticket is unable to explain its position on the Lilly Ledbetter Act.
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