'Notwithstanding the economic crisis, I have chosen to pursue my own agenda instead because I'm comfortable with it.'
By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.
An unreliable source provided this early draft of President Obama's speech to Congress last Thursday night:
Members of Congress, honored guests, my fellow Americans:
Jobs are the No. 1 priority of the American people. Jobs are the No. 1 priority of my administration's rhetoric. Jobs have not been the No. 1 priority of my administration's policies, however. Let me explain why.
A British statesman—I believe it was Harold Macmillan—was asked what he intended to do if elected prime minister. He answered, roughly, "Deal with matters that arise." That has not been my approach.
Elections have consequences. We mastered the use of slogans and imagery and won the presidency. Now the power is ours to choose our agenda, and we chose not to be distracted by matters that arise—say, the country's economic crisis. We chose instead to pursue the things that we know should be pursued.
These things are called shibboleths—badges of identity that signify us as "progressives" and entitle us to a sense of superiority. One is nationalization of health care, an emblem of our "caring."
One on which we've made less progress is the displacement of fossil fuels in favor of "green energy," at much higher cost. Accompanying this shibboleth are related shibboleths—about "energy independence," about "global warming"—that, like all shibboleths, are impervious to examination.
Another is union power—labor is good, management is bad. I could go on. These shibboleths are so important that, as you will have seen by now, we will not allow them to be impeded or delayed by matters that merely arise, such as the public's crying need for jobs. So we have blocked drilling for fossil fuels in as many places as possible, protecting Americans from the jobs that would be created.
So we have sacrificed jobs in order to punish Boeing for building a plant in South Carolina that would employ nonunion workers.
So we enacted a health-care plan whose unimaginable complexity and cost can only weigh negatively on every private-sector employer.
I have chosen to pursue this agenda, notwithstanding its untimeliness in the face of matters that have arisen (i.e., the economic crisis), in part because I'm comfortable with it.
Consider my background. I don't know much about business and, frankly, don't care to. You see, I have a self-reinforcing image of Barack Obama. I am high-minded. Business people are greedy and, somehow, lesser. I stay focused on that.
Some might say, "Had I known this I never would have voted for you." A) You weren't listening carefully; and B) that was my intention, my art. To conceal—for instance, by dropping one's Gs—is what it means to be an effective left-wing ideologue in America these days.
I am not anti-business. I get a supreme sense of satisfaction when business leaders approach me and, in a deferential manner, ask for subsidies and regulatory favors that will determine whether their companies succeed or fail. Like solar subsidies. This is the kind of job creation I'm interested in.
My administration has taken flak because of our "investment" of tax dollars in a solar company that last week filed for bankruptcy. Don't be misled. If such companies were profitable and could survive without subsidies, they would not be fit objects of government charity, nor would their leaders approach me with a deferential mien.
Their dependency is what makes them loyal constituents, generous with a campaign donation, willing to go on CNBC and praise our policies. You can always count on me for job creation when it means taking money from independent businesses, those that are answering the call of the marketplace, and giving it to dependent businesses, those that are answering the call of government.
In closing, let us recognize that an election is approaching. The time is upon us when my administration must ratchet up its rhetoric to make it sound like your agenda (jobs, growth) is my agenda.
Indeed, I will begin tonight by junking the more revealing passages of this draft speech and pretending that I place a higher value on job-creating pragmatism than on my progressive shibboleths.
This, I hope, will cause you to re-elect me. Thank you for listening.