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June 24, 2019 • 10:39 am

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Obama: “Driving Us Out of a Ditch,” or Setting the Car on Fire? Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, August 19 2010
Simple arithmetical and history shortcomings aside, it’s disgraceful that Obama resorts to scapegoating his predecessor by name in his larger campaign to avoid responsibility for his own incompetence.

Remember the summer of 2002, when President Bush  conducted the midterm Congressional election campaign by blaming Bill Clinton at every opportunity for the tech bubble recession and 9/11 plot he inherited? 

Or the 1982 midterm campaign, when Ronald Reagan degraded the office by blaming Jimmy Carter for the economic and Cold War calamities he inherited? 

Obviously not, because neither sank to that disgraceful depth. 

In fact, we don’t recall Bill Clinton resorting to attacking George H. W. Bush by name during the 1994 campaign, although ascertaining that would require chest-high rubber waders to navigate Bubba’s behavioral swamp. 

So leave it to President Obama to set another low in presidential standards.  Here was Obama, speaking at a Chicago fundraiser: 

“They haven’t come out with a single solitary idea that is different from the policies that held sway for eight years before Democrats took over, not a single policy difference that’s discernable from George W. Bush.  Not one.  They’re betting that you just forgot about the eight years that they were in charge of Washington.  They’re betting that you didn’t notice that the recession started under their watch and the deficit started under their watch.” 

It’s sad enough that Obama can’t even get simple math and recent history straight in his head.  After all, this is a Congressional election, and his own party reclaimed Congress in 2006 under Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid – two years before the 2008 recession started.  Moreover, the budget surpluses that he referenced didn’t arrive until 1998, four years after the Republicans reclaimed Congress in 1994. 

Of course, this is the same Obama who spoke of traveling to “57 states” after a pause for thought, so perhaps he and his teleprompter just need some quality time with daughter Sasha’s math and history tutors. 

Simple arithmetical and history shortcomings aside, it’s disgraceful that Obama resorts to scapegoating his predecessor by name in his larger campaign to avoid responsibility for his own incompetence.  Again and again, Obama has returned to his tired analogy that Republicans “drove the car into a ditch” and now want reclaim the wheel. 

Combining metaphors, Politico’s Carol Lee describes this line as Obama’s all-purpose “Mr. Potato Head”: 

“It has since become the Mr. Potato Head of campaign stump speech metaphors.  The president keeps expanding on it.  This week, as he repeated it at fundraisers across the country, it continued to balloon into several paragraphs with bells and whistles tacked on in all directions.  Obama changes features around.  He introduces new characters.  He adds new props.  The other day, he decided Republicans were sipping Slurpees as they watched Democrats dig out the car.  (Incidentally, Obama is the only president to ever use the word ‘Slurpee’ in a speech, according to the archives of The American Presidency Project.)  There’s been a lot of mud in the ditch.  It’s been all over Democrats as they push and shove, sometimes with their shoulders.  In some speeches Obama has the Democrats wearing boots.  Other times they’re wearing galoshes.  He’s added bugs and sweat to the scene.”

Then along comes Obama, portraying himself as a Richard Petty who pulled the car from the ditch and got it speeding down the road to recovery. 

But Obama’s tired analogy doesn’t correspond with reality any better than his poor math.  He hasn’t salvaged a car in a ditch, he’s threatened to set it on fire. 

For instance, Obama needlessly fanned the national flames surrounding the proposed New York City mosque this week by sanctimoniously lecturing Americans against religious bigotry.  A president should unite Americans, but he inexplicably chose to fuel the divisive fire. 

Events in Iraq provided another rebuttal to Obama’s campaign theme this week.  There, the last American combat brigades withdrew in victory from Iraq, thanks to the troop surge ordered by President Bush but opposed by Barack Obama.  In fact, Obama predicted in January 2007 that the surge would make things worse, not better.  President Bush shouldn’t hold his breath awaiting Obama’s thank you note. 

Meanwhile, to use his own imagery, our car swerves in Afghanistan with Obama now at the wheel, and the threats from Iran, North Korea, Gaza, China and Russia grow. 

On the economy, Obama’s own economic advisors forecast that unemployment would be down to 9% and declining by now even if we did nothing and allowed the cyclical economic recovery proceed without more government interference.  Instead, unemployment remains elevated in the neighborhood of 10% after Obama’s multi-trillion dollar spending binge and regulatory onslaught.  Initial claims for unemployment also rose to 500,000 this week, an alarming development. 

Obama isn’t towing our collective car from the proverbial ditch.  He’s pouring gasoline on it by way of dangerous spending, taxation, debt, regulation and unsteady leadership. 

Fortunately, the unamused electorate is coming with a fire engine and tow truck in the form of the November election. 

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