Column: Send in the clowns
WASHINGTON -- It is important to understand the plot line in the tragedy called Washington politics before one can appreciate the play, or not.
When conservatives hold to their convictions about, say, sound economic policy, liberals in the media and in Congress label them "ideologues." Should they refuse to compromise their position when offered the chance to do so by liberal Democrats, they are then referred to as "fanatics" or in today's preferred pejorative word, "tea baggers."
And all of the drama can be set to the music of "Send in the Clowns" from Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music."
"Isn't it rich?"
When liberal Democrats hold to their views that higher taxes and more government spending are the way to revive an economy, they acquire no negative labeling. In fact, they are no longer referred to as liberals, but as "progressives." Who could be against progress? Which is the point of the word. When their policy fails to produce the announced results, they are not called fanatics, but remain progressives. Liberals who refuse to admit their misplaced faith in Keynsian economics when it doesn't work are like cult members whose misplaced faith has been exposed as bogus. In fact, liberals dig in their heels claiming it isn't that too much has been spent, but too little.
In this game, it's the intent, not the results that count. Feelings trump failure.
"Isn't it bliss? Don't you approve?"
Apparently not, given the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll that shows the president's approval rating at 46 percent and his disapproval rating at 52 percent, the first time he's had a positive deficit.
With unemployment at 9.6 percent and the real figure well into double-digits when one counts those who have stopped looking for work or who have been forced to take early retirement because they cannot find a job, comes the jokerin-chief to try to sell us the same policy when it didn't work the first time around.
"Don't you love farce?"
On Labor Day, President Obama announced yet another stimulus plan consisting of a request to Congress for $50 billion in borrowed money to be spent on more infrastructure. But the president promised in December 2008, shortly after his election, that "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects would lead to an economic recovery: "...the minute we get those investments to the state level, jobs are going to be created."
"I thought that you'd want what I want. Sorry my dear."
In February 2009 the president said infrastructure spending would create 400,000 jobs. The latest unemployment figures show a net job loss last month.
The few jobs that have been created in the construction industry are a boon to labor unions, but when the money runs out the jobs will end. These are not jobs that are created as a result of a robust private economy, but the modern equivalent of Franklin Roosevelt's Work Projects Administration.
"Isn't it rich? Isn't it queer? Losing my timing this late in my career."
With the public outraged over the huge deficit and the multi-trillion dollar (and growing) national debt, those Democrats who vote for another $50 billion in spending will be nailing themselves inside their own coffins in November. Fanatics behave irrationally and with greater intensity when the game appears to have been lost, so maybe they will vote for more spending and failure in a political suicide pact.
The Associated Press provided a useful fact check on whether the many stimulus initiatives lived up to their billing. On Aug. 26, the wire service wrote, "The Obama administration claimed ... that $100 billion invested in innovative technologies under the economic stimulus law is 'transforming the American economy' by putting the nation on track for technological breakthroughs in health care, energy and transportation." But the AP concluded the stimulus would likely fall far short of the administration's intended results.
This president has become a fanatic, enabled by the likes of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He refuses to budge when his policies clearly are not working.
Cue the music:
"But where are the clowns? Quick, send in the clowns. Don't bother, they're here."
Direct all mail for Cal Thomas to: Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y. 14207. Readers may also e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.