The Great Prevaricator walked out to opine on the Ground Zero Mosque, as if a local zoning matter in New York City had anything to do with the President’s role as Commander in Chief. With the Taliban demonstrating resurgence in Afghanistan, and the incomprehensible revelation that an organization which disfigures women and girls as a matter of routine isn’t classified as a terrorist organization by the State Department, President Obama had to come out and speak on a mosque built by private interests in New York City near Ground Zero. Just as he had done with Henry Louis Gates, President Obama aimed for the forest but couldn’t hit a single tree germane to the authority or oversight of his office.
I’m sure we’ll have a halal summit or some other such nonsense at the Rose Garden, given the trend of the administration. For all of his accomplishments as an orator, President Obama certainly lacks clarity these days. What’s more, he lacks focus on the pressing business of the country. While his press secretary snipes at the professional left, and the professional left continues to defy that categorization by conducting themselves in a manner befitting amateurs, President Obama himself has lost his groove. What’s more, there are those of us questioning whether he ever had a groove to begin with.
If we’d wanted ham-handed leadership and snide cattiness, we’d have elected John McCain, he of the infamous temper and impolitic outbursts. With unemployment officially at over 9.5% (really, it’s more like 16%), the country lurching with $15.5 trillion in real debt (IOUs to entitlements combined with the official debt), and nearly every U.S. state facing a Greek-style implosion due to fiscal mismanagement, the President felt that the Ground Zero mosque, uniquely and apart from the other business of the country, required his pontification. Really? Who advises this man? Because if I were a Republican advisor, I’d have told my president to keep his mouth shut and allow the mosque to be Michael Bloomberg’s problem. Silence is sometimes the better and wiser part of discretion.
If I were on the left, I’d be questioning why a president who couldn’t come out on one side or another where healthcare and financial reform were concerned can speak to the wisdom and efficacy of the Cambridge police, or a local mosque project in New York City. As polarized as we are as a country, grouped not by a common love of America but rather by grievances with America, President Obama’s asinine remarks, vanilla as they were, somehow managed to polarize us further.
Never mind that President Obama said what he said, the very next day he was out speaking on the matter again to retract what on its face wasn’t all that objectionable. It was obvious, actually. Private property owners have the right to build whatever they see fit on their land, so long as local zoning laws and building codes are adhered to in the process. I don’t particularly like the idea of a mosque near Ground Zero, but they can build it regardless. Then again, the City of New York has the power to declare eminent domain in order to construct a large parking lot or garage. The mosque backers would be compensated and they could relocate, and parking, always an issue in New York City, could be dealt with on some level. Two birds, one stone. With that said, I just wonder why the President felt it necessary to say any damn thing on the matter whatsoever. Doesn’t he have other things to do?
We’ve got an economy in crisis, exploding federal, state, and local debt, and no real plan to deal with any of those issues. In the best case scenario, our debt will hit over $20 trillion in the next seven years. How is that good? We’ve expended $23.7 trillion in loans and guarantees via the TARP bailout, much of it spent without any legal authority whatsoever given that the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act specifically authorized around $800 billion in aid to banks and financial institutions, while the government turned around and used the money to prop up car manufacturers and other assorted interests. Our Federal Reserve managed to lose $100 billion on a currency swap when the dollar devalued by 20% over the time span in question, and yet we entrust them to protect our money. Oh, and the best part...those troubled assets? They’re still being booked as assets rather than liabilities, even as foreclosures continue to mount and the owners are for all intents and purposes insolvent. Not underwater, mind you...insolvent.
The program designed to enable homeowners to restructure their mortgages is a failure by all objective standards. Homeowners in this country are a failure by all objective standards. If you paid $400,000 for a house on a salary of $50,000, you are a moron. Because in the end, in the best case scenario, over time you will actually pay nearly $1 million for that house. In the worst case scenario, you’ll pay much more than $1 million. On a salary of $50,000. Let’s say you make double that amount. You’re still a moron. No three bedroom two bathroom house is actually worth $400,000. I don’t care that you can find a fool stupid enough to pay that amount, or a bank idiotic enough to lend him that amount; it’s still a house that isn’t worth $400,000. Sooner or later, the fact that we’ve abdicated the direction of our housing market and our economy to fools and idiots comes out, and when it does, housing values don’t collapse; they go to their real value.
Now, if our President can summon forth the snark to inform John McCain that the campaign is over, why can’t he do the same where the housing market is concerned? Or those sub-prime mortgages that enable people to finance over 96% of their home’s price? And why is our President standing by silently while the FHA finances over 95% of a Manhattan condominium’s price and guarantees payment in the event of a buyer’s default? I mean, this seems to be a more pressing matter of greater importance than a mosque near Ground Zero. It’s actually germane to his authority as the President, given that the head of the FHA answers to the President.
If the President can speak on the matter of a Georgia official’s racism based on an edited video, and even compel action to have her employment terminated, I see no reason why he can’t intervene to stop the FHA’s ill-advised foray into the Manhattan condominium market. I just don’t. But he can go on emphasizing the irrelevant to the detriment of our nation’s pressing business, be it the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, the double-dipping economy, continued chronic unemployment and underemployment, and state. local, and federal debt. He’s the President, and he gets to pick and choose whatever he deems important. But what he deems important begs for an inquiry about him and those who advise him: just how stupid are these people?