woody_zimmerman_118_2007A favorite cartoon of mine shows two scientists at a long blackboard filled with mind-blowing equations. They are reviewing the mathematical steps. Pointing to a line which reads, “And then, a miracle occurs,” one scientist is saying, “You might want to review this step…”

That crazy cartoon came to mind in recent days, as the presidential campaign has escalated to a full-throated roar following Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate. But it is the Obama-Biden campaign, not Romney-Ryan, that evokes the cartoon. Both President Barack Obama and Vice-president Joe Biden have been running around the country, hitting “battleground” states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia with their “miracle message.” Its elements are basically this:

  • • George W. Bush is responsible for the mess we’re in;
  • • Some people are out of work, but we’re heading in the right direction;
  • • We didn’t know how bad it was when we took office – Bush snookered us;
  • • We’re offering the same plan that has been working for four years;
  • • The “rich” need to pay their fair share: their taxes are too low;
  • • We reflexively hate any plans Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan offer;
  • • (Did we mention that this is all George Bush’s fault?)
  • • Obamacare (don’t call it that!) is our proudest achievement, but we don’t want to talk about it;
  • • Deficits? George Bush did it all. (Did we mention that?)
  • • Gas prices? Nothing to do with us. Blame the arabs.
  • • The private sector is doing fine, but a “miracle” will put everything right;
  • • Give us a second term so we can all enjoy the miracle together.

Of course, what the president and vice-president say to their supporters is dressed up a little from that. But what they are preaching really boils down to essentially this absurd, incoherent rant. Nothing in Mr. Obama’s “plan” includes growing the country’s wealth, producing more jobs, or reducing taxes. He wants higher taxes on the “rich,” who (he says) are not paying their “fair share.” If he can’t get those increased rates, he’s willing to let taxes for everyone revert to pre-Bush levels. He offers only pandering to various interest groups – immigrants (legal or il), students, women, gays, Muslims, “greens,” etc. Everything offered to these groups is some kind of special government benefit.

Mr. Obama’s bribes reveal that he considers his constituencies (A) so shallow that they can be bought cheaply, or (B) so stupid that they won’t recognize that his bequests can’t possibly withstand court or Congressional scrutiny. This is particularly true in the case of Hispanics. Mr. Obama’s campaign “gift” to them was a presidential executive order opening a path for children of illegals to apply for green cards and eventual citizenship.

Of course, Mr. Obama has no power to grant any such thing. His new “amnesty” order is bound to be contested in court and/or overturned by a new Congress after the election. But he doesn’t care. He evidently believes that his gesture will send Hispanics to the polls in great numbers to vote for him. Whether his order is rescinded doesn’t matter. It will have accomplished its purpose – or so he hopes.

Mr. Obama has bribed college students with a reduction of interest rates on their college loans. He hopes they will vote for him in overwhelming numbers, as they did in 2008. He also needs them to do the legwork and phone-work of campaigning. Maybe students can be motivated by this trivial bribe – a few hundred dollars a year for most – but I have my doubts. Many young people who were students in 2008 are now living in their parents’ basements and wondering when or how they will start the careers they expected their expensive educations to furnish them. An Associated Press study showed that over half of all recent college grads are under-employed or without work at all.

Maybe current college students will buy the Obama “hope and change” tale again, but probably not as readily as in 2008. They can see what’s happening (or not happening) in the economy around them, and all but the dullest grasp Mr. Obama’s lackluster record. Official statistics put unemployment among 16-19 year-olds at 70%. Some economists estimate that only 14 in 100 young black men in that age-group are gainfully employed – an appalling statistic. Many students are from families where one or more parents are out of work. This could affect those students’ ability to stay in school. You don’t have to be an economist to see these things clearly. Having no work and no money tends to concentrate the mind wonderfully.

The question is whether Mr. Obama can convince students that he has the answer to their problems – as he dances around his obvious failure to apply that answer so far. It is doubtful that blaming George Bush – who took office when current college students were still in elementary school – will continue to convince any young people. This is where Mr. Obama’s “miracle” shtick is supposed to inspire young voters. His campaign is all about embracing the miracle. It really should be his new slogan.

This economy is Mr. Obama’s, and he knows it. It’s why he wants to talk about almost anything else, including his favorite Mexican food – as he did in a recent local radio interview in Albuquerque, NM. (Maybe he thought this would make him more solid with Hispanic voters, too.) 

Mr. Obama has made a big deal over insisting that medical insurance policies must furnish “free” contraceptives to women. No doubt he believes this will cause hordes of young women (and hot-blooded young men) to flock to his support. Maybe it will; we’ll see. But somehow I doubt that lusty young people who can’t pay for their own contraceptives will be numerous enough to carry the president and loveable old loose-lipped Joe to a second term.

I also doubt if the free contraceptives pitch resonates among mothers of most teens – or among fathers of teens, for that matter. I raised some teens, too, so I know something about this. The last thing my wife and I would have wanted was free access to contraceptives for them or their friends.

Besides irritating parents of teens, the free contraceptives rule has also offended Catholic leaders and millions of communicants who believe endorsing contraception violates their conscience and their faith. I’ll be very surprised if this move nets Mr. Obama any new votes. Indeed, it may well cost him some of the Catholic vote he got in 2008, when Catholics went for him by 54-45%. Many Hispanics are also Catholics, so Mr. Obama’s contraceptive-pandering might have produced conflicting results in this case.

To please environmentalists, Mr. Obama has launched a full-scale war against coal, oil and natural gas. Over the grousing of unions, Mr. Obama has blocked construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would employ construction workers and bring a million barrels of Canadian crude oil to our refineries every day. The greens are undoubtedly cheering, as gas heads for $4 a gallon again. Half of our electricity generation plants are coal-fired, so the destruction of the coal industry – which Mr. Obama clearly promised before his election – will make the price of electricity “skyrocket,” just as he promised in 2008. (Was anybody listening?)

The new geologic technique of fracking promises to make us the Saudi Arabia of natural gas by giving us more than a century of supply. But the Obama administration has attacked this abundant new energy source. His administration wants to make windmills and solar panels our primary sources of electrical energy, but a child can see that the wind doesn’t blow all the time and the sun shines only part of each day. Reliability is the key element in electric power generation

All in all, Mr. Obama is our most energy-hostile president ever. He’s a hero to the greens, but not so much to workers in the coal, oil and natural gas industries. Ditto for hard-pressed motorists. Historically, voters have booted presidents and presidential wannabes associated with high gas prices.

Mr. Obama has pandered to Muslims by celebrating some of their holidays in the White House, taking a soft approach with Iran, and taking a hard line with Israel. Probably this has won him the support of Muslims in the USA, but they number only 2.5 million, or 0.8% of our population. As a campaign strategy, it seems to be a bust – the more so when the offense he has given to Christians and Jews is taken into account.

Muslim outreach is one of Mr. Obama’s least understandable strategies – unless it is a key element of his foreign policy and not connected to his electoral strategy at all. (For a politician as astute as Mr. Obama is said to be, that would be unbelievable.) As with the economy, the Muslim outreach leans heavily on the “miracle” construct. Suddenly, without warning (goes the narrative), rapprochement with Islam will appear. Iran will beat its atomic bombs into wristwatches whose dials glow in the dark. Those who embraced the miracle will be rewarded (and will be suffused with an incandescent glow).

Finally, Mr. Obama’s endorsement of gay “marriage” has pleased the gay-rights lobby mightily. Although rich and influential, gays are really a very small segment of the population, however. (One would not infer this from the fawning media treatment they receive.) No doubt they will overwhelmingly support Mr. Obama, but gay marriage does not resonate with much of the country. Although eight states have legalized it, thirty-one others have provisions in their constitutions that ban recognition of same-sex marriage. There is zero chance that it could be legalized via an amendment to the US Constitution.

Gay marriage also offends many black Christians who cheered and supported Mr. Obama in 2008. In late July a coalition of black pastors, led by the Rev. Williams Owens, came together to denounce Mr. Obama’s support of gay marriage. The Rev. Owens, president and founder of the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP), declaimed:

They have chosen to cater to the homosexual community, they have chosen to cater to Hollywood, to cater to big money and ignore the people who put the president where he is.”

Evangelical Christians of all races are furious over Mr. Obama’s support of gay marriage. It could become a key issue in the campaign – far outweighing the support of the gay rights lobby.

Recently, I heard a broadcast-commentator say that Mr. Obama’s campaign strategy is busting the country into many special-interest pieces, then trying to cobble them together into a coalition that can re-elect him. This, it should be noted, is distinctly different from the time-honored practice of drawing disparate groups together and uniting them under a few strong common issues. Mr. Obama’s strategy resembles this only in the sense that his re-election is the issue uniting these groups.

Mr. Obama is now preaching “shared prosperity, built outward from the middle class” as his campaign theme. He gives no details on this, except that the “rich” should pay more – which would not nearly cover the costs of his government. Basically, it’s all about the “miracle.” It’s a chimera, but it’s all he’s got. If he can sell it, he’ll go down as the greatest politician in American history.