The highlight from today’s jobs yakfest in D.C. It’s nice to hear a guy described by some as a socialist acknowledge that “Ultimately, true economic recovery is only going to come from the private sector.” Too bad the private sector’s chief lobbyist wasn’t invited to hear it in person, huh? Well, no matter. Contempt for this pointless PR stunt is sufficiently bipartisan that TNR’s take on it today sounds almost as harsh as the Journal’s. Quote:
Little more than a month after taking office, he held a “Fiscal Responsibility Summit” where he solicited ideas for battling the deficit; a few weeks after that he hosted a “Health Care Summit” to kick off his drive for health care reform; and later still came the “H1N1 Preparedness Summit” and the “Distracted Driving Summit.” Then there were the assortment of international summits (Summit of the Americas, NATO Summit, G-8 Summit, G-20 Summit, ASEAN Summit), head-of-state summits (Karzai, Zardari, Medvedev, Hatoyama, Hu), and, of course, the Beer Summit with Henry Louis Gates and Sergeant James Crowley. And today Obama’s summitry comes full circle when he holds another jobs summit, where he and 130 other people (including Paul Krugman, Joe Stiglitz, and even Eric Schmidt, in case he has any new ideas he didn’t put forth 14 months ago) will chew over how to get the unemployment rate out of double digits. Add it all up and that’s an astounding amount of gas-baggery in such a relatively short period of time…
Indeed, in the age of Obama, the summit has replaced the vaunted bipartisan commission as the ultimate empty gesture. Where a president once kicked a nettlesome political problem down the road by assembling a panel of bipartisan worthies to produce a report on entitlement reform, say, or how we made the mistake of thinking Saddam had WMDs, Obama now holds a confab to jawbone the problem to death. Even better, unlike with a bipartisan commission, with a summit, there’s no final report to have to contend with. That’s not to say Obama’s wonkery and love of deliberation is a pose. It isn’t. It’s just that we know he’s doing it for real when, as in the case of Afghanistan, he does it behind closed doors.
In fairness, today wasn’t totally useless. The One finally admitted that his “shovel-ready” talking point is itself, shall we say, shovel-ready. And more importantly, he got out in front of tomorrow’s big news, which, if JP Morgan is correct, will show unemployment up another two ticks in November to 10.4 percent. Between that and the “stunning” report tonight that consumer sales declined slightly last month after being expected to grow between five and eight percent, he simply can’t afford not to be seen as proactive anymore. Even if his “proactivity” consists of gabbing with Paul Krugman in front of a pair of mikes and a couple of cans of Shasta.
Update: Words make the jobs grow!