Over the past two weeks, conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh has been advancing a theory about why President Obama’s approval ratings remain above average, despite the fact that most Americans say they are dissatisfied with the direction the country is taking.
Limbaugh has hypothesized that many Americans, perhaps the “low-information voters,” are not connecting Obama’s policies to what is actually happening in the country, because the president never actually governs. Obama’s is a non-governing presidency, one that is built on an eternal campaign, a never-ending community organization effort.
Aided by a relatively weak Republican Party, Obama travels around the country, appearing to be fighting against the horrific consequences of his own policies. Consequently, the president has remained fairly popular without having to own any of his destructive strategies and programs. It’s all about perception.
The situation with the sequester is a perfect example. The White House came up with the idea of sequestration as a punishment/enforcer during the debt ceiling debate of 2011. The sequestration–an across-the-board spending cut, or a slowing in the growth of spending–was the compulsory “trigger” designed to appear to cut spending. The White House believed it would never happen because Republicans allegedly would do anything to avoid cuts to defense spending in particular.
Fast forward to the present day, however, where we have Barack Obama traveling around the country denying he came up with the sequester idea as he warns Americans of the apocalypse that is upon them because of the compulsory cuts the Republicans want them to endure.
In an op-ed in the Washington Post, however, Mark Thiessen recommended a plan for Republicans to force Obama to take responsibility for the sequester: make the president decide where and how to make the required “cuts.”
The problem with the sequester is that the cuts are indiscriminate, hitting both critical and unnecessary programs with equal force. And it is the indiscriminate nature of the cuts that Obama is using to bludgeon Republicans.
Using terms like “meat-cleaver approach” to attempt to whip Americans up into a fearful frenzy, Obama is even now, with the sequester upon us, doubling down on images of budgetary cuts that will cause enemy invasions because of a weakened military, criminals being let free because of a debilitated justice system, injured people dying in the streets because of a lack of emergency personnel, and a rampant rise in communicable diseases because of cuts to medical and preventive care.
To be sure, whatever negative event befalls the United States over the next several months, it will be blamed upon the “Republican Sequester.”
Thiessen urged legislation, which Senate Republicans did eventually draft, to give Obama total authority to allocate the automatic cuts as he sees fit, allowing him to “replace the ‘meat cleaver’ with a scalpel.”
In other words, Republicans would be placing Obama in a position in which he must govern. Even if they did not agree with the cuts he made, the cuts would belong to him.
However, while Thiessen advised, “Republicans should give him the power to cut bloated programs and protect vital services,” he also admitted, “Obama may not want such authority.”
In fact, on Tuesday, campaigning again against the “Republican” cuts, this time in Newport News, Virginia, Obama said that he rejected any suggestions that he should have more power to carry out the sequestration cuts.
Instead, the president insisted that Congress work out a better solution by raising taxes on the wealthy. He told shipyard workers that he doesn’t want responsibility for making the sequester “cuts,” because “there is no smart way to do it.”
Sounding very much like he is not cut out for this governing stuff, Obama said:
The problem is, when you’re cutting $85 billion in seven months there’s no smart way to do that. You don’t want to have to choose between, “Let’s see, do I close funding for the disabled kid, or the poor kid? Do I close this Navy shipyard or some other?”
Sad for us that the president thinks that’s how a national leader goes about budgetary decisions.
Nevertheless, when have we ever heard Obama decline more power? This is a president who has repeatedly attempted to consolidate power for the Executive Branch while openly bemoaning the fact that he must deal with a Congress and a Constitution.
As a governing leader, it is within the scope of Obama’s authority already to stop truly harmful cuts that could damage the country and, instead, strategically target where the sequester cuts would occur, perhaps even eliminating wasteful spending first. Why would Congress have to force Obama to address the danger that he’s been so passionately warning against?”
The reality is that we have a president who wants power but no responsibility. The reality is that we have a president, an eternal “campaigner,” who hasn’t a clue about governing.