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A burning question

By Tom Toles

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Friday rant: post mortem edition

Are we talking about Obama in the past tense now? I don't know if I've actually encountered that, but it seems like it nonetheless. Turns out that he was a radical leftist! Of course, the left didn't like him because he was just a Wall Street lackey! People used to project their hopes onto him. Then he just got illuminated with everybody's crazy. That's change!

It looks to me like we have gone past sensible conversation about Obama. The media can barely hide its glee at the failed presidency narrative.

Historical data show that a bad economy will massacre a sitting president, but here's the thing. I still haven't heard anyone posit a single thing he could have done differently that would have given us a faster recovery, except for doing more of what he did do that nobody would let him do more of. Go figure.

In fact, I haven't seen a persuasive case that Obama doing ANYTHING differently than he did would have yielded a better outcome in this actual world we actually live in, given the actual Congress he had to actually work with. Probably not even a much DIFFERENT outcome. Maybe fewer U.S. automakers. But better? Not persuaded. But now that his presidency is history, I miss it already. --Tom Toles

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By Tom Toles  | September 10, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Religion  
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Comments

Wouldn't it be grand if a president had a house and senate with his party in the majority? That way he could get things done. I wonder if this will every happen?

Posted by: quiensabe | September 10, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Whatever happened to the independent, resourceful Americans we used to read about? Now it is all "the president should have done this.... or he should have done that..."

If you need a father figure - Christmas is not far away, and he could put on a red costume and slide down chimneys with lots of goodies. (Always assuming there is not a climate warming fire in the hearth).

Oddly enough, the best role-model he could use is to be "Robin Hood". Take from the rich and give to the poor. No questions, no discussions, and at least 99% of the US population would be better off.

Posted by: Stonebird | September 10, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

It's astonishing to observe the level of vitriol here. Tom, good for you. Stick to your guns.

Some of these posts are so angry and vile, one has to keep reminding oneself that even lunatics are capable of basic reading skills.

Posted by: tedlittleford | September 10, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

On taxes, why not put the same ceiling on income tax liability, the amount paid by individuals AND the matching amounts paid by the companies they work for, at exactly the same place social security tax liability cuts off at? That would sure pump more money into the economy in a hurry wouldn't it? Wouldn't it??

And label anybody who disagrees a "socialist!"

Posted by: jonroesler | September 10, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Somebody... Please... I keep looking and looking, but cannot find the part in the Constitution of the United States that talks about how it is the job of government to promote economic growth. Regulate commerce, yes. And the value of money, along with weights and measures. Protect the collective "us" from invasion and violence, yes, and even combat piracy on the high seas. But "promote economic growth?"

And the whining that government doesn't do a good enough job of promoting economic growth, strangely, seems to come from the people whose economic growth has, in spite of it not being government's job, promoted by the government.
"Give us MORE tax breaks, and things will surely get better," say the people who have seen their taxes gradually reduced over the last 50 years. And yet, things have not gotten better as a result of those tax breaks.

Why is that?

Then there's the rest of it, talking @#$% about the president and how he's a miserable failure as a human being, while at the same time faulting him for not performing veritable miracles in the fields of economics, taxes, two ongoing wars, health care and energy... and also (how dare him) not being able to achieve world peace!

Were expectations too high? Or too low?

IF the Democrats get turned out in November, or a new president in two more years, are the new Republicans going to be held to the same standard being expected of Obama? Or is the standard going to go back to, "Well, at least our special representative didn't mispronounce the word, 'cat.'"

Yes, that's elitist. Whatever. It's also annoying to be lectured on shoulda, woulda, coulda by those who, when their people had the presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court, didn't. Not only didn't improve what they inherited, but took not-bad-at-all and made perfect FUBAR.

Oh, yes... shame on Obama for not being able to turn the whole mess completely around in 19 months.

Posted by: jonroesler | September 10, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

where is your cartoon about the army burning bibles...

Posted by: DwightCollins | September 10, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse


Done Differently? R. U. kidding?

He could have used the bully pulpit. He could have gone off-script. He could have told the American people the truth about the crooked money system. He could have lobbied Congress to reinstate Glass-Steagal and to outlaw naked short selling and regulate derivatives.

He could have done A LOT, but he didn't.

Why? Who knows. Maybe it's because he knows that if he goes off-script, his Kenyan birth certificate will amazingly appear, and he'll be getting fitted for an orange jumpsuit.

In the meantime, he'll remain Wall Street's lapdog.

Posted by: HumanistPatriot | September 10, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Tom, I can't figure out why so many pundits are disappointed that Obama actually cannot walk on water. He offered us "change we can believe in" but somehow, we thought that he meant "change in the next two to three months."

Given our situation prior to Mr. Obama coming into the Oval Office, I believe much has been done although much, much more is needed. The promises offered by his adversaries are promises of the past that are the same delusional approaches used in the past that rewards no one. It only prevents us from ultimately realizing "change we can believe in."

Posted by: ronhamp | September 10, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Good for you, Tom Toles, for not giving up talking about global warming, even though no Americans are listening. Of course, they won't come around until it's too late. Of course, they will ultimately be proven wrong when the damage has been done.
At the end of 2010, NASA and NOAA will announce that this has been the warmest year in recorded human history. Maybe, maybe, we'll see some movement then.
But global warming is exactly the kind of story that neither American media, nor the American brain, is equipped to handle.

Posted by: bourassa1 | September 10, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

to Kevin 71707: and you did? definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Academic approaches to practical situations do not always work...witness the so-called "stimulus packages" to date...history has proven that government interference generally does not work...and please do not cite FDR and New Deal which only served to prolong a depression....going down the same path while ladening this country with debt beyond belief....it is time for Obama to take responsibility for this economy and the failed policy i.e. pass $800bn stimulus and unemployment rate will not go beyond 8%...we are pushing 10% now....government does not create jobs (except for government jobs)...it is the job of government to facilitate conditions which promote the growth of jobs which does not seem to be what this government wants to despite its words!

Posted by: pickles1 | September 10, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

What could Obama ACTUALLY have done differently??
"Sigh"
He could have:
Eliminated capital gains tax.
REALLY cut welfare and Medicare fraud.
Cut foreign aid by 80%
Reduce the federal bureaucracy by 30%,
and most importantly; Laissez-faire, i.e. let people
do as they choose.

Posted by: rch41 | September 10, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Obama pre-capitulated on every important issue. He stuck his thumb in his progressive supporters' eyes. With his massive initial approval levels, he could have made good on his "hope and change" rhetoric. But either he was never serious or else he cowardly succumbed to DLC-style triangulating subservience to corporate interests.

Either way, this administration's failure is NOT the fault of the progressive grassroots. We were turned away from the table immediately after the inauguration.

Posted by: hermanbubbert | September 10, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

(4) Oil. I'm guessing, Tom, that you flew to Italy (planes use fuel), you probably own a car...you get the point. The bottom line is there are 1000s of new jobs available if we opened up ANWR and near-shore oil rigs. I get it on the safety & environemental issues here but this could be done right. Solar/wind/all of it is going to take more time.
--
Oh give me a break you talk about infrastructure and wind farm and solar energy projects that won't have an effect for years then you bring up this little canard again? Not to mention with the BP spill you somehow think we can "do it right" and that it is at all a feasible, or even wise, thing to try to do right now? Boy that'll be a popular program with the voters.

Well anyways in case you forgot, Obama DID open up oil exploration and drilling which he later cancelled because the BP disaster made it obvious to everyone that maybe it's not such a good idea. So there you go.
--
D. We should have let the automakers go down. GM and the rest have scuttled new car enterprises for years. Car factories in the south build cars cheaper (all foreign) with US labor. How do they do it (we all know the answer class)? They don't have to pay the Union man.
--
So you want no major manufacturing base left in American hands at all. Good strategy. Really forward thinking stuff there.
----
Posted by: pararanger22 | September 10, 2010 5:24 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | September 10, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles, The public face of the Congressional leadership did little to support President Obama until his success
with Healthcare Reform.

It is far too soon towrite him off!

Hopefully Mr. Emmaneul will return to Chicago, and other changes will lead to a more activist Administration: THAT IS MY
SINCERE HOPE.

Posted by: cbctouby | September 10, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

A good joke is that in Canada, the right wing party is called the Progressive Conservatives, a true oxymoron.
The President is doing what the electorate asked of him but the deceitful right wing "talking heads" have convinced the their brain-dead listeners that he is wrong about everything. Those righties are just puppets for the wealthy who want to keep the lower and middle class as economic slaves. Just as in the South leading up to the Civil War, the wealthy convinced poor southerners that the US was trying to destroy THEIR way of life. The poor suckers bought it and got multitudes of Americans killed, all for the benefit of the wealthy plantation owners. Some things never change.

Posted by: pjohn2 | September 10, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"You people are incredible beyond belief in your point of view, your opinions and your approach..."

Posted by: pickles1
-------------------------------------------
And "you people" are beyond belief in your inability to grasp reality, basic economic principles, or recent history.

Posted by: Kevin71707 | September 10, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"considering the congress he had to work with?" you mean the vast Democrat majority and Obama's sidekick nancy pelosi?

interesting how when things go terribly wrong Obama's supporters like to blame it on Republicans stopping him - while the Democrats have had majorities large enough to pass bills without any republican support! Take ownership of your own failures for once. And remember, the Dems have controlled Congress for almost 4 years now!

Posted by: lmtexasranger | September 10, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Democrats are far less likely march lockstep with each other than Republicans. This is a good thing, I think, because it means more different points of view and ideas on how to handle things get heard, but faced with a unified minority, it prevents them from pushing through everything they want because they will always have a few on their side who are leery about this or that item. In other words, they can't push through "whatever they want" because there is no one thing that they all want, or at least, no solid agreement as to how to accomplish these things. Health care is a fine example of this phenomenon.

But let's face it, as far as unity and organization, the Republicans have a really good structure in place. Much better than the Democrats. They have a few wild cards still but not as many and they are more or less a dying breed.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | September 10, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

pararanger22:

Great comment, took the words right out of my mouth.

And I'm wondering why Obama wants to spend more money when he is still sitting on over $200 billion of unused funds from last year's stimulus.

Toles and the rest of the liberals are walking around wearing blinders, guess they like tunnel vision. Beats facing reality.

Posted by: janet8 | September 10, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

In regard to your cartoon, you might like to check out American Taliban, by Markos Moulitsas. He points out all of the other ways the Christian Right and Muslim Wrong (haha) work from the same playbook. As do Hindu and Buddhist extremists, etc.

About Obama, his strategy of being the President of all Americans was not directed at Republicans currently in Congress. It has been letting thousands of voters a day peel off from the Right, rather than inflaming matters. But on Labor Day weekend, the President threw down the gauntlet. "If I said the sky was blue, they'd say No."

In the next eight weeks, you will see the Democratic Get Out The Vote operation get into high gear; Democratic candidates calling Republican and Tea Party candidates on their nonsense; and the Republicans and Tea Parties in open war on each other. The GOP already has lawsuits in Delaware and Colorado against the farther-Right candidates, Christine O'Donnell and Tom Tancredo.

There's plenty more a'comin.

It's going to be a nailbiter for the worriers, and spectacular for the bold. I would rather do my part than sit at home wringing my hands. We need all the cloudy sky patriots we can get together.

So keep it up. Tom. We have your back.

Posted by: Antibogotes | September 10, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

"considering the congress he had to work with?" you mean the vast Democrat majority and Obama's sidekick nancy pelosi?

interesting how when things go terribly wrong Obama's supporters like to blame it on Republicans stopping him - while the Democrats have had majorities large enough to pass bills without any republican support! Take ownership of your own failures for once. And remember, the Dems have controlled Congress for almost 4 years now!

Posted by: lmtexasranger | September 10, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

How very quickly we all forget that it was NOT Obama who created the mess we're all in. He's the one who got stuck with the bucket and broom.

Trust me-one person isn't going to be able to quickly clean up the mess four or five other people have made. Chances of that happening lessen further when that person is being hounded by a country full of evil step sisters reminding them every hour that no matter how hard they scrub, they'll never get it cleaned up exactly the way it should be.

and @ Gary Masters: Voters got stupid when they stopped wanting to THINK and make decisions by themselves. They got even dumber when started doing what the talking heads on the TV tell them to do.

Posted by: amethystmarbles | September 10, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Be thankful that the president didn't accomplish more. Almost everything he did will prove detrimental to the U.S. If future Congress(es) don't defund some of the wild, poorly thought-out spending programs we will be in REAL trouble in the near future.

Posted by: OldNavyMan | September 10, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Excellent blog today!

I can't wait to see how things turn out in November. Will all the naysayers turn out to be nothing more than wishful thinkers? Or will the American people actually be dimwitted enough to hand control of the government back to those who created the mess we find ourselves in? Can't wait to find out.

Posted by: CynicalC | September 10, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

i disagree with the FL pastor's desire to burn an Al'Quran. but your cartoon leads someone to believe islam is or muslims are so tolerant. i lived in indonesia for 15 years. you do not understand islam nor muslims.

Posted by: jpdtiga | September 10, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Somehow Mr. Toles, I do not believe you would be so inclined in your opinion if the sitting President's name were McCain and the economy, as under Obama, was not on the rise - McCain would get slaughtered by the very liberal media you are a part of and represent. You people are incredible beyond belief in your point of view, your opinions and your approach...

Posted by: pickles1 | September 10, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

How quickly, or slowly, we forget 8th grade civics. We have a three part federal government structure. Each part is independent of the others. When that tension is abused--see Bush II--bad things happen to the country.
Rejoice, paratutu, that the current Executive branch, may its tribe increase, has problems with the Legislative branch.
That's as it should be.

Posted by: GeneTouchet | September 10, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Tom,
That persuasive case you say is missing: Nobel economist Paul Krugman has continued prodding the President (since before taking office!) to stimulate the economy significantly more than what was proposed, to no avail. Of course, now it's too late. Mr Obama has squandered his political capital on a plan too thin.

The stimulus originally proposed during Bush2, by H.Paulson, was a number snatched out of thin air. It was entirely inadequate, and without basis in reality. Sort of like swimming halfway across the river, and losing heart, only to realize it's just as far to either shore. Ooops! Outta gas. ~eric.

Posted by: 2ericc | September 10, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Toles wrote:

["The media can barely hide its glee at the failed presidency narrative. Historical data show that a bad economy will massacre a sitting president, but here's the thing. I still haven't heard anyone posit a single thing he could have done differently that would have given us a faster recovery, except for doing more of what he did do that nobody would let him do more of. Go figure. In fact, I haven't seen a persuasive case that Obama doing ANYTHING differently than he did would have yielded a better outcome in this actual world we actually live in, given the actual Congress he had to actually work with. Probably not even a much DIFFERENT outcome. Maybe fewer U.S. automakers. But better? Not persuaded. But now that his presidency is history, I miss it already."]

----------------------------

Toles,

Just some slight, tiny issues with your commentary today:

1 - You chastise the media for their treatment of Obama.
A. The media was 90% on the O-team to get him elected (including you).
B. You are the media.
C. Obamas' just going to have to dance with the one who brought him.

2 - "I still haven't heard anyone posit a single thing he could have done differently that would have given us a faster recovery, except for doing more of what he did do that nobody would let him do more of."

A. This is probably the dumbest paragraph you've ever written and that is saying something.
B. Nobody would let him? Dude, Obama had majorities in the House and Senate and he passed everything he wanted to pass.
C. Lots of folks have posited what he could have done differently, to whit:
(1) Vast improvement of the American Recovery Act structure and content. Obama kicked this nearly trillion package development to Reid and Pelosi to sort and what happened? Pork (duh) laden to the top, for one. Tons of investment in infrastructure improvement that won't kick in for years.
(2) Jobs versus health care. Which one was more important to focus on for a year in Congress?
(3) Muddled, long-term strategic message on the economic direction Obama wanted to take the country in terms of business, taxes, green regulations.
(4) Oil. I'm guessing, Tom, that you flew to Italy (planes use fuel), you probably own a car...you get the point. The bottom line is there are 1000s of new jobs available if we opened up ANWR and near-shore oil rigs. I get it on the safety & environemental issues here but this could be done right. Solar/wind/all of it is going to take more time.
D. We should have let the automakers go down. GM and the rest have scuttled new car enterprises for years. Car factories in the south build cars cheaper (all foreign) with US labor. How do they do it (we all know the answer class)? They don't have to pay the Union man.

Let's face it Tom. The O-team had all the aces coming into power and they still folded. 9.6% unemployment and they promised 8%.

Are they (and you) ever going to take responsibility for your failed beliefs?


Posted by: pararanger22 | September 10, 2010 5:24 AM | Report abuse

If you just read the news, main stream and otherwise, you would get the impression that the Obama presidency has been a failure. In reality, if you actually take the time to ponder these things, the Obama presidency has been quite successful. He is in the process of keeping his promises--at least those that he can keep. He's only been in office for 19 months...less than half of his first term. He's not the extremist that he's accused of being, certainly not a socialist; he was born in the U.S., though the loony right claims he was not; he's not a Muslim, as if that should make a difference in the U.S.; he handled the Gulf oil spill as well as could be expected, and Bush did much worse in NOLA; he probably pushed about as far as he could on Health Care Reform and the stimulus package, no GOP cooperation there; he is slowly withdrawing our military from the nearly forgotten wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Really, Obama is facing and/or being blamed for one media-created faux crisis after such as the Mosque near Ground Zero, the more recent Koran (non-)burning, a job recession.

Have people so quickly forgotten the Bush years and what THEY did to this country? The country was in recession as of Dec. 2007--it didn't start with and couldn't have been caused by Obama. The wars, TARP, a small stimulus, recession, near doubling of our national debt were all due to the Bush administration and an overly compliant, mostly Republican-dominated Congress. Well, I haven't forgotten the Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43 years. And I said "Never again" to that! And I meant never again to that. Until the Republicans offer any ideas to solve our problems, I won't vote for a single one of them. Ever! And the Tea Party? No thanks!

Posted by: ptgrunner | September 10, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

My question is why aren't you writing opinion pieces for the elitest perch? You say more with much less characters.

Posted by: AverageJane | September 10, 2010 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Tommy ol boy, I have two words for you: “piss christ”. Had Christians threatened to kill Andres Serrano lefties like you would have been screaming from the top of your lungs about it.

Anyhoo, it isn’t that your messiah is a radical leftist, its that he’s an incompetent radical leftist. Face it Tommy ‘ol boy, you backed a loser. Here’s something your god could have done Tommy, how about streamline regulations, cut the deficit, and lower corporate taxes?

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | September 9, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Thanks again, Mr. Toles.

I swear - - - your written editorials are as good as your editorial cartoons! Outstanding, AND wise!

Posted by: lufrank1 | September 9, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

You go, Tom. Your work is always a bright spot in my day.

Posted by: YoMama7 | September 9, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Dear jornolibist, the only extremists are on the right according to Liberals. Talk about Bill Ayers or even the Discovery terrorist and you get silence from the Left.

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 9, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Looks like his fire and brimstone has much in common with the Discovery building global warmer suicide bomber. Why no cartoons on the fear stoked by the manmade global warming hoax which caused a person to strap propane bottles and shotguns shells on his body and take innocent people hostage to protest the lack of manmade global warming programs?

Posted by: jornolibist | September 9, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

What could or should have President Obama done differently? Pretty much nothing. He did what any liberal Democrat would do, he spent our money. He shoved through with the exclusive support of Congressional Democrats a new entitlement, health care. He bailed out the auto makers or better said the auto unions. He looked to Government to fix everything. Government does not have a very good track record of fixing things. And yet after all of the help to the unions and the Liberals they still aren't happy. Since the economy is still in the tank one may ask that if we had put a freeze on all Federal spending, held off on a new entitlement, and let weak business fail and other business find their footing again would things be better or different. Lucky for the President we will never know.

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 9, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Regarding your cartoon Mr. Toles. It is people, not the religion that are haters. People who use religion to justify or promote their twisted ideas are cowards. Leaders of churches want people to follow their opinion of text. They have no desire for people to read and understand themselves what is written. The last thing that many religious leaders want is people to think for themselves

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 9, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Turn out the President. The Propaganda war on the Presidency started a long time ago, but it picked up against President Clinton when some thought he was "the worst President" ever. Then President Bush did last two terms, but they used the same list against him that they used against President Clinton. (1. Worst ever, 2. Lies, 3. Has affairs, 4. Stupid, 4...)

Now they use it against President Obama.

I do not fault the propaganda people. They are going to use anything that works.

But how could the voters get so stupid?

Posted by: GaryEMasters | September 9, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

What could the President have done differently when he had a 75% approval rating? He could have been bolder. He could have held Wall Street accountable when people were behind him. He could have asked for national medicare when the people were behind him. What did he have to lose that he may not have already lost. The GOP was going to say "no" anyway. Why not go for broke? His "compromises" may then have been more far-reaching. Modeling civility does not work when the other side is not civil. I am hopeful President Obama will use this time to show that boldness; I am not, however, holding my breath.

Posted by: listgerri5 | September 9, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

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