Obama ran against cynicism — and then defined his presidency by it

For starters, it was the reelected president — not “Washington” — who took his eyes off the economy to exploit a tragedy for new gun controls that would not have prevented the tragedy itself. His unilateral crackdown on carbon emissions isn’t exactly a full-throated effort to create jobs either. When Congress took its eye off the ball by taking up immigration reform, the White House cheered.

Even now, the Cynic-in-Chief admits that his “highest priority” is neither economic growth nor job creation but reducing income inequality. In fairness, he says he wants to reduce inequality through something called “middle-out” economic growth by taxing the wealthy (again). But my hunch is that the highest priority for those without work is . . . work. While the president’s highest priority is to exploit resentments.

But most cynical of all is Obama’s contempt for the “phony scandals” that have plagued him. Which ones are phony, exactly? The Justice Department’s monitoring of journalists was sufficiently outrageous that Obama ordered the attorney general to review DOJ policies. Why do that if the concerns were phony? When a few rogue IRS agents in Cincinnati were alleged to have deliberately targeted conservative groups, Obama said it would be “outrageous” if those allegations were proven true. But when that cover story is proved a deliberate lie from an IRS official in Washington, and it’s revealed thanks to congressional oversight that the policy actually went all the way to the office of an Obama political appointee, the scandal suddenly becomes “phony.” Odd how that works.