The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Five Weeks

This blog has been quiet for the past five weeks. The reason is that I've been working on an idea for a new small business. 12-hour days for the past five weeks have left little time for blogging. A small business always begins with a need, followed by an idea that fills that need. The hard part is developing the service or product that will reward both the customer with a useful product and the business with a meaningful profit. That takes time, it is inherently risky, and it can be a very expensive failure. But, there are tens of thousands of people who try—every day, every week, every year.

But we live in a world where it's difficult to disconnect entirely, so I've been watching the presidential election campaign unfold with a combination of amusement and disgust.

Ironically, while I worked on creating a new business, Barack Obama had a few things to say about small businesses and the people who build them. His now infamous "You didn't build that ..." comment has roiled the punditry and required him to "walk back" his "gaff." But I don't think it was a gaff. Rather, it was one of those rare instances when a politician was expressing his true feelings about a subject.

Regardless of how you interpret the context of the President's comments on small business, it's pretty clear that he believes that big government is an enabler for those who have created successful businesses. It's almost as if he believes that the economy flows out of government, rather than a government that flows out of a private economy that provides the tax dollars to feed it's insatiable appetite. At it's core, that's the philosophical divide that will be decided in November. Is big government the path to prosperity as Barack Obama believes? Or is private enterprise and the efforts of individuals the right approach? We'll see what the American people decide.

Over the past five weeks the Obama campaign has spent well in excess of $100 million in a largely unsuccessful attempt at "defining" Mitt Romney. In this instance as well, Obama's ideology shines through. The not-so-subtle class warfare attacks on Romney's wealth and success, coupled with dishonest attacks on Bain Capital (the pro-Obama Washington Post gave the President's claims 4 "Pinochios"—suggested that they are outright lies), also tell us far more about Barack Obama than they do about Mitt Romney.

For the past 40 months, the President has failed miserably in his attempt to manage the damaged economy that he inherited—unemployment numbers are dismal and again getting worse, the GDP is growing at an anemic rate, the vaunted stimulus is now widely recognized as not only a failure, but a partisan program that spent $800 billion in taxpayer money with very little private sector impact. The housing crisis persists, the banks have not been reigned-in, and poorly crafted health care legislation is already beginning to create problems among employers. But Obama suggests that we should follow him into the next for years, without a single new idea or path modification that might indicate that he recognizes that his past economic approach was a abject failure.

Over the past five weeks, he continues to change the subject.

The past five weeks have also seen Barack Obama stumble in his efforts to effect a cohesive and successful foreign policy. His indecision about Syria over the past year has now resulted in much greater influence of Islamists among those who are against Assad. Iran continues on its path toward nuclear weapons, laughing at Obama's sanctions along the way. Iraq is devolving back into chaos, Egypt is becoming more Islamist by the week, and Israel? Well, all of sudden, in the middle of the election season, Obama is now Israel's "friend."

Arthur Herman comments on the change of attitude:
A year ago, the Obama administration had plainly brought America’s relationship with the Jewish state to its lowest point since Jimmy Carter — a deterioration so marked that, for example, it prompted Ed Koch to cross party lines to endorse Republican Bob Turner in a special House election in protest of President Obama’s Israel policies.

Clashes over Jewish settlements in Jerusalem had Obama storming out of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, followed by Obama’s call for Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of its cramped 1948 borders. Then came public warnings to Israel not to take any military action against a nuclear-arming Iran.

And microphones at the Cannes G-20 summit caught then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy telling Obama that Netanyahu was a liar and our president agreeing, saying, “You’re fed up with him, but I have to work with him every day.”

Recently, however, Obama has been acting as if he and Netanyahu lived on the same kibbutz.
Why? Maybe it's because Obama's support among some American Jews is beginning to erode. Again Herman comments:
They [Jewish voters] also recall his harsh words about the Israeli “occupation” during his 2009 Cairo speech and his call for Israel to hand over territory it took in the 1967 war — including territory vital to Israel’s security, especially now with Egypt and Syria in flames.

They note his [close]friendships with anti-Israel activist Rashid Khalidi and the anti-Semitic Rev. Jeremiah Wright. They pay attention when Obama’s own press secretary refuses [during the past five weeks] to say that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
So, the President provides $70 million in defense aid (something that every administration since Nixon has done), sends Leon Panneta to Isreal to make nice, and leaks the claim that he's ready to work with the Israeli's to move against Iran. The timing of all of this 'love' is a little suspect, don't you think?

And finally, over the past five weeks in Florida (a swing state), there's been a touchie/feelie Obama commercial that's in heavy rotation on every cable channel. In the commercial, an earnest Obama conveniently forgets the vicious Chicago-style politics and attack ads that are its trademark, looks directly into the camera, and says: "Sometimes politics can be small, but the decision you'll make [in November] is large."

It's hard to argue with that sentiment.