Politics

President Mañana

“There are better days ahead,” President Obama told University of North Carolina students last week. “We will emerge stronger than we were before because I believe in you. I believe in your future…. that’s what drives me every single day—your hopes, your dreams.”

One can win the presidency on hope and dreams. But only a dreamer would predicate his reelection hopes on, well, hope. If the president hasn’t realized the politician’s promises, then the president promises to become an unemployed politician.

Forty months into his White House residency, Obama still speaks in the future tense. This makes his future as precarious as any other American’s. If the president could boast about his past, he would feel confident in his future. As it stands, he is a man long on vision and short on accomplishment.

The president’s signature achievement is peculiar in that he can speak of it in but hushed tones. This is because ObamaCare is to achievement what notoriety is to fame. The peculiarity extends to the law’s provisions, most of which go into effect in 2014 or later. The delayed implementation ensures that its ill effects can have no ill effects on its architect’s electoral career, which one presumes will cease no matter the results of November’s elections.

White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman Alan Krueger called the first quarter’s diminishing growth rate of 2.2 percent “encouraging.”But just last year the White House predicted 4 percent growth for 2012. The pattern of rosy forecasts revised to meet gray reality is by now familiar. Raising false hope breeds real despair.

The just-around-the-corner recovery programs have led to a weight of debt from which we can’t recover. The present oppresses the future.

President Obama’s legacy is debt. He bequeaths to posterity $5.5 trillion in new debt, which will be more expensive to service through the loss of America’s “AAA” credit rating. Presenting tomorrow with the bill for today’s profligacy might be more palatable if the spending spree had jumpstarted the economy or provided some tangible benefit. Alas, a few windmills and an electric car aren’t worth putting every American $50,000 in the red.

Obama’s America is like getting the hangover without the high.

The undergraduates at the Universities of North Carolina, Colorado, and Iowa may know the feeling. The president’s message to students on the trio of campus visits last week was that the government should make it easier for them to go into debt. The president seems to grasp that federal student loans hamstring young people with enormous debt and serve to inflate college costs. But he nevertheless wants more federal student loans on cheaper terms.

As if the national debt eclipsing $15 trillion wasn’t ominous enough, student debt has now surpassed $1 trillion for the first time in history. Americans sacrifice tomorrow for a today that isn’t as good as yesterday.

The former law professor told students in Chapel Hill last week that “the idea that each generation is going to know a little bit more opportunity than the last generation” is “the defining issue of our time.” He said it.

It’s ironic that a president who speaks so much about tomorrow governs as though it will never come. Barack Obama suffers from visionary syndrome, in which he talks about a glorious future but acts in a way to ensure its grimness. “Yes we can” never transitioned to “Yes we did.”

“Mr. President, remember when the country rallied around you in hopes of a better tomorrow?” comedian Jimmy Kimmel asked at the White House correspondents dinner. “That was hilarious. That was your best one yet.”

The joke is on us.

Sign Up