Obama Gets a Mulligan—And Shanks It!

It's been two days now since President Obama's State of the Union address, and his words still resonate in my ears:

"Blah-blah, blah, bla-bla-blahhhh." An awful lot of it sounded like the same, old same-old from President Obama, just topsy-turvy.

US President Barack Obama delivers his first State of the Union address
MANDEL NGAN | AFP | Getty Images
US President Barack Obama delivers his first State of the Union address

At his first SOTU one year ago, he hammered heavily at his trillion-dollar healthcare overhaul, and eventually he got to, oh yeah, that jobs problem. And, alas, he spent his entire first year on that same bent.

The President should have targeted unemployment as Job #1 a full year ago. On Wednesday night, he got a presidential mulligan, a chance to do it right this time. Ever sensitive to the polls, he opened with jobs-jobs-jobs and waited the better part of half an hour to get to the obsession that may yet bring him down: Obamacare.

Yet, Bam wasted much of his mulligan on bank bashing, partisan attacks and the failed themes that have helped him sink below 50% approval in the polls. Here's what the President should have told us on Wednesday night:

—“I'm sorry I got so diverted from the most painful and immediate crisis—jobs. My healthcare preoccupation was a flaw of ego: I wanted to make history by doing what FDR and Kennedy and Johnson and Clinton couldn't.”

—“Let's face it folks: my healthcare takeover is dead-dead-dead, even my own party flees the fallout. So we’re gonna target, first, just the 15 million people who want coverage, can't afford it and don't qualify for government aid. (Source: Congressional Research Service.) Later, we'll have to figure out how to sign up the 30 million other uninsured people.”

—“You elected me for my whole “audacity of hope” thing, but I spent too much time wallowing in doom and recrimination. Instead of decrying lavish profits and “obscene” bonuses, I should focus on the relief we all should feel that the financial system is healing. Bashing the banks isn’t good for the economic rebound I’m trying to stoke here.”

—“I’m guilty, in my first year, of overestimating my own personal appeal. Sure, it got me elected, but, to my stunned disbelief, it did nothing to sway the International Olympic Committee; or win over the Copenhagen climate-change conference; or get voters in my own party to retain the Democratic Senate seat we’d held in Massachusetts for almost 40 years. From now on, I’ll rely on smarter policies rather than my abundant charm.”

—“One blow to my personal appeal: I keep talking out of both sides of my mouth. I just told you I want to freeze federal spending for three years, saving $15 billion this year . . . yet, I’m also pushing a $100 billion college-loan takeover, still other social spending and a shiny, new $80 billion jobs program. Whoops. I vow to stop doing this.”

—“Come to think of it, I realize no government "creates" jobs, that every government job-spending program might as well be a vampire bat attached to the taxpayer's most delicate parts. So, instead, let’s extend tax breaks to Big Business, too—lots of small businesses thrive by supplying their bigger brethren.”

—“Because I truly am alarmed about the deficit I helped swell up—now at $1.3 trillion and a staggering 9% of GDP—I will withdraw the $400 billion that hasn’t yet been spent under the $787 billion stim-pak; and pump the $600 billion in unspent and recovered TARP funds back into the Treasury.”

—“I got way too cozy with the unions. They represent only 7% of the private work force—and a scary 32% of all government workers at all levels. It’s why the average federal salary now is 20% to 30% higher than the average private job; and why public-employee pension costs are inviolate and trigger tax increases even as the private sector cuts its pensions. This cannot continue.”

—“Though our economy is growing again, even a soak-the-rich uber-libby like myself knows a passel of tax increases could derail our recovery. So, much as I hate to do it, I’m shelving my plans for higher taxes on multinationals, and for a new $90 billion 10-year tax on big banks that have already paid back Tarp money—that one was just mean, okay?”

“I also pledge to stop pushing for higher taxes on investing and private equity and hedge funds; for new Medicare taxes on capital gains; for 18 new taxes in the Senate healthcare plan, including stiff levies on medical-device makers. In fact, I’m leaving the Bush tax cuts in place ... and I’m renaming them the Obama tax cuts.”

Insert big sigh here, guys. That, at least, is what I wish I’d heard our President say in his State of the Union address the other night. In my dreams, babe, in my dreams.

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