By JAMES H. "SMOKEY" SHOTT
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Four years ago the left was filled with optimism and poised to win the presidential election. The Democrats had nominated the first African-American candidate for president of the United States, and millions were spellbound, and buoyed by his message of hope and change.
During his acceptance speech at the Democrat Convention, Barack Obama said, “we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.” The crowd went wild.
And it was about time we did those things. We had never cared for the sick before or provided jobs to the jobless. Or ended wars or been the last, best hope on Earth before.
In a campaign amazingly light on detail and substance, a dreadfully inexperienced Barack Obama won the election.
When he assumed office the country was in the midst of a recession, one President Obama frequently refers to as “The Great Recession.” As time passed and things didn’t improve as promised, this title has become a tool to make the downturn seem worse than it was to excuse his dismal performance on the nation’s crushing economic problems. Data show that other recessions were worse in one or more aspects than this recession, and while significant, the 2008 recession does not rate the honorific the president bestowed on it.
What does deserve our attention is the non-existent Obama recovery, which still has not taken hold 56 months after the recession began.
President Obama claims 5 million new jobs have been created during his term, but for the 37 weeks of 2012 through Sept. 15 the weekly new unemployment insurance claims average roughly 374,000, a total that dwarfs 5 million new jobs in just 37 weeks.
The U-6 unemployment rate stands at 14.6 percent as of September 30, and includes the unemployed, under-employed and those who have given up looking for work, a total of 22.6 million people.
Mr. Obama increased the national debt from $10.6 trillion on Jan. 20, 2009 by 51 percent, or $5.4 trillion, through a failed stimulus and a government spending spree. Despite spending all that borrowed money, since Q3 2009 GDP has averaged only 2.17 percent, substantially lower than the 3.25 percent average GDP through expansions and contractions since 1947.
Median household income has declined by 7.3 percent, and last year the Census Bureau reported more Americans in poverty than ever before in the more than 50 years that it has tracked poverty. Ironically, the group that has suffered the most during the Obama presidency has been black Americans, whose real incomes have fallen by more than 11 percent.
Had Mr. Obama set out immediately to address joblessness, and championed policies to spur the economy we would be far better off than we are. Instead, he wasted two years getting a bill passed to revamp the nation’s health care system, against the will of 60 percent of the people he serves.
Yet, the president does not regret wasting two years on Obamacare instead of focusing on the economy. In an interview with the Des Moines Register Mr. Obama said he had no regrets that he didn’t focus on the nation’s most pressing issue. “Absolutely not,” he said.
The dismal economic performance affects us all; however, the most remarkable failure is the scandalous behavior of the Obama administration before and after the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where during a seven-hour attack four Americans were murdered. There was a reduced level of security before the attack, despite numerous requests to maintain the higher levels and even increase those levels because of recent attacks on U.S. facilities and mounting levels of violence.
Requests for help during the attack, including requests from personnel stationed nearby who wanted to help were denied.
And worst of all, adequate answers to the many legitimate questions about what actually happened still have not been provided fully seven weeks after the attack. It is difficult to avoid assigning political motives to this behavior, which appears at this point as a clumsy cover-up to get through the election.
Add to this the Fast and Furious gun-running debacle, the ridiculous job-killing ban on drilling for our own oil on federal lands, and the war on coal killing thousands of coal jobs and thousands more in related industries like power plants, railroads and support businesses, and there simply is no reason to give this man more time to wreck the economy.
Barack Obama is not the god-like figure his fawning fans believe him to be, but a very average man who allowed the nation to continue to suffer while he pursued his ill-advised ideological goals.
On the campaign trail he now says, “I want your vote for what I’m going to do.” But we’ve heard that one before, and we can’t afford to fall for it again.
James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.