It was an otherworldly experience to watch President Obama delivering his State of the Union speech. Even after watching him for seven years, I can't decide who the primary victim of his deceit is, him or us.
Is it even possible for this guy to extricate himself from campaign mode? Is there ever a time when he's not puffing his product? His incessant salesmanship would be bad enough if he truly had a stellar record.
If we give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he is just self-deceived, then the culprits are probably his blinding ideology and his narcissism.
His ideology compels him to believe that his policies are working even when they're not, because even objective evidence demonstrating otherwise doesn't seem to register with him. And narcissism surely accounts for his navel-gazing tunnel vision that fools him into believing he's a bipartisan conciliator.
For him to hold himself out as a uniter and effusively praise himself for his economic and foreign policy record is surreal.
For years, we have heard his bipartisan rhetoric in one breath and, in the next, his threat that it will be his way or the highway. What honest and self-aware person could say he is ready to work with Republicans while blasting them as paid partisan hacks and threatening to veto anything they send to him that doesn't fully embrace his own imperial demands?
It's far easier for me to understand his dogmatism than to get my mind around his holding himself out as a uniter in the midst of it. It's either the highest form of sophisticated deceit (involving the lowest form of cynicism) or an alarming case of his residing in an impenetrable bubble where he hears only himself and those who agree with him.
If we don't give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he really knows his record doesn't square with his claims, I think we can still attribute his other-directed deceit to a combination of his ideology and his narcissism. He is so convinced that his primary goal of fundamentally changing the United States is imperative that he's willing to lie through his teeth to further that goal. And in his case, his narcissism insulates him from feeling any guilt at all about it.
Regardless of whether Obama is lying to himself, to us or both — and it's probably a great deal of both — his report card does not correspond to the objective facts, in a frightening number of ways.
Let's look at a few examples in this short space.
He briefly mentioned Obamacare — to brag about more people being covered by insurance. What he didn't tell us is that most of these gains were caused by an expansion of Medicaid, which historically delivers lower-quality care and reduced access to it — defeating the ostensible purposes of Obamacare. More importantly, most of Obamacare's nominal coverage expansion has been nullified by reductions in coverage for people with employer-based insurance.
He shamelessly took credit for an energy boom and lowering gas prices. These have occurred not because of his policies but in spite of them. Increases in production are because of more drilling on private and state land, not federal land. Energy produced from private-sector fracking — a practice he opposes — is also responsible for much of the increased productivity and lower prices.
Obama beamed about reducing the deficit, but as The Heritage Foundation reports, this is about the only time he'll be able to make that claim. That's because most of his prior deficits were horrendous and annual deficits over the next decade are projected to average almost $1 trillion. More disturbing, however, is that entitlements consume about half of our tax revenues and are projected to swallow 100 percent of revenues within 15 years. Yet Obama steadfastly obstructs entitlement reform.
Obama takes credit for a growing economy, but if the economy is finally growing — and the evidence is mixed — it's been a long time coming. His vaunted middle-class policies are not helping the middle class, which has suffered under his presidency. He has presided over the slowest recovery in 50 years. Plus, workers at the lower end of the pay scale have seen their average weekly hours dropping significantly — as opposed to higher-paid workers. Though he cites decreasing unemployment, he omits that most of the job gains are among part-time workers and that the unemployment numbers are further misleading because they ignore the enormous number of people who have quit the workforce altogether. The labor participation rate is at its lowest point in decades, and only a quarter of this can be attributed to a change in demographics.
Among his numerous misstatements on foreign policy, Obama would have us believe that Islamic jihad and al-Qaida are not significant enough problems even to warrant a mention. We have "turned the page." How can a president be so out of touch as to take this position when the Islamist terrorist threat is expanding and becoming deadlier?
By one metric, though, Obama has been the most successful president in our history: He is well on his way to fundamentally transforming this nation — for the worse.