by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It’s an old Hollywood trope, so familiar because it’s so improbable: A dude from Back East enters a saloon full of tough cowpokes. He’s unarmed, except for a certain air of moral and social superiority. He orders a sarsaparilla. Western tough guys surround him to make fun of him. They order him to dance as they shoot their six-guns at his feet.
Eventually the marshal gets up from his poker game and puts a stop to the game. The story goes on from there, and in the old Hollywood, where right makes might, the dude learns a valuable lesson about Western culture. From now on he’ll pack a gun when he goes to town. With practice, he will become a better shot than the average cowboy.
Or something like that. You’d have to ask President Barack Obama what movie it was. When he walked into the House chamber last week and delivered a State of the Union speech offering no compromises and hardly any kind words to a Congress packed with opponents, he was acting out a fantasy that only works in Hollywood.
In the same situation in 1995, President Bill Clinton at least bought a round of whiskey for the cowpokes. “The era of big government is over,” he said with a straight face. …
… The president’s seeming insouciance about the political reality of his future life co-habiting the government with the Congressional Republicans was matched by his rapturous claims that his economic policies have achieved their goals: “The shadow of the crisis has passed,” he said.
The crisis? That would be the so-called Great Recession, which bottomed out in 2009, according to the business-cycle dating of the National Bureau of Economic Research. It does cast a long shadow, but it was never great, and it receded several years ago. The recovery has been slow, but that was largely due to Obama’s attempts to speed it up with bailouts, handouts and subsidies.