The scant 15 or so minutes the president stood at the podium today did little to ameliorate the sense of abandonment that festered this weekend when the president for nearly three full days “bunkered down” after news of the S&P credit downgrade. It certainly didn’t help that BHO arrived at that podium more than 48 minutes late. Before he even opened his mouth, Obama’s tardiness touched off a Twitterstorm. A small sample of my favorite tweets:
Obama’s handlers need to start doing what I do with my late girlfriend: Tell him the presser is at 12. Then, he’ll be on time. — @MelissaTweets
How to make Obama more punctual: Invite @AndrewBreitbart to the White House. — @politicalmath
I’m never 41 minutes late getting to a different part of my house. — @rorycooper
It’s 1:48, do you know where your president is? — @ShepardSmithFOX
One tweeter hopefully noted that it might not be that the president was late to this speech — it could be that he was early to his 2012 concession speech. Dare we hope?
But the afternoon did not improve after the president appeared on the scene. As Dear Leader spoke, the Dow dropped … and dropped … and dropped.
The president didn’t even have the decency to open his remarks with condolences for the families of the Navy SEALs who lost their lives this weekend. Instead, he gave that pride of place to reiterate the rightness of the “solutions” he’s been suggesting for the nation’s debt and deficit crisis from Day 1.
“We didn’t need a credit ratings agency to tell us we need a long-term balanced approach,” the president said. “Our challenge is the need to tackle our deficits over the long term. Last week, we agreed to [across-the-board cuts to domestic and defense spending.] There’s not much further we can cut in either of those categories. We need to couple those spending cuts with two additional steps — tax reform that will ask those who can afford it to pay their fair share and modest adjustments to health programs like Medicare. … Making these reforms doesn’t require any radical steps. It does require common sense and compromise.”
The president called the deadlock that characterized the debt ceiling debate “not constructive,” essentially inadvertently concurring in S&P’s rationale for a downgrade, even as he cast doubt on the credit rating agency’s credibility with the most memorable line of the speech.
“I don’t care what credit ratings agencies say,” Obama said. “We always have been and always will be a AAA country.”
That gave rise to another worth-repeating tweet from S.E. Cupp: “Obama sympathy cards are at the printer’s: “You’ll always be AAA-rated to me, America.”
In typical Obama fashion, the president sought as many scapegoats as possible, from the aforementioned deadlock to factors “we can’t control” — like earthquakes and … spikes in oil prices? As many observers noted, the latter, at least, we can control to a certain extent.
But the purpose of Obama’s speech was not to take responsibility or to present solutions — although he did promise to put forth his recommendations for the future. Who knows when those will come — but, when they do, they’ll surely have something to do with the extension of a payroll tax cut, boosts to unemployment insurance benefits and an infrastructure bank — the three policy points the president made sure to mention yet again today.
In fact, it’s hard to ascertain just what the purpose of the president’s speech actually was. As The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein put it, a shorter Obama would have gone something like this: “This debt downgrade confirms why all my ideas were right all along.”
But, somehow, it was still an overall good that the president said something on the national stage today — because the Navy SEALs who were shot down in a helicopter over Afghanistan Saturday deserved every syllable Obama mustered in their honor.
“The reason I’m so hopeful about our future is because of the American people, because of their willingness to shoulder the burdens we face as a nation” Obama transitioned. “There is no one who embodies those qualities I mentioned more than the men and women in our armed forces. This weekend we lost 30 of them … Their loss is a stark reminder of the risks our men and women in uniform take every day. … [Our promise to them should be to leave a legacy of] an America that reflects their courage, their commitment and a sense of common purpose.”
Indeed. As to what that common purpose should be? What it has always been: To preserve freedom, even before prosperity.