As I read the president’s speech Tuesday speech to the Associated Press luncheon (an audience which offered him a warmer welcome than it did his likely Republican rival in the presidential contest this fall), I thought I’d heard it all before. It wasn’t just that his critique of the Ryan budget sounded like another Obama speech — which, to a large extent, it was.
It was that it also sounded like the standard liberal critique of Reagonomics back in 1982 before the Gipper’s policies had been tested. It’s how the anti-Reagan left sounded when Obama was in college. The guy still talks like he’s an undergraduate where the rhetoric mattered more than the facts. As I wrote yesterday, the President of the United States offered a “cartoon version of Republican economics . . . more like a college activist’s impassioned critique of Reaganomics than an elected leader’s considered response to his rivals.”
Leaders of democratic nations do not deliver speeches so deriding the serious proposals put forward by their political opponents. This is not to say that he shouldn’t criticize Mr. Ryan’s plan if he objects to it, but that when he does so, he owes the people he serves more than just the same tired bromides that he and other Democrats have been offering for 30 years — even after the Reagan boom — which continued into the Clinton era (when federal spending fell as a percentage of GDP — from 21.4% in FY1993 to 18.2% in 2001).
It is yet another defining moment in the career of this divisive politician where he attacks his political adversaries rather than trying to find common ground with them. Hugh Hewitt called the speech “risible” and links what he calls Guy Benson’s epic analysis of the address. The post-parisan president delivered, what Benson called, “a bitterly partisan speech”; he proceeds to analyze point by point.
The more Americans who hear this speech (and others like it), the more quickly the image of his 2008 campaign will fade and the less likely they will be to trust him with another term as the nation’s chief executive, particularly given the pressing fiscal problems our nation faces.