SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 20, 2013

Anderson: Washington, Obama and 'low-information' voters

Barbara Anderson
The Salem News

---- — “The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.”

— George Washington

I’d taken down my flagpole before the blizzard, since strong winds had snapped an earlier pole, was about to put it up again with my American flag for Presidents Day when I hesitated. Something seemed wrong.

I checked my old list of flag-flying days from the Disabled American Vets Foundation: It says to fly the flag on the third Monday in February, which it still calls Washington’s birthday; darn, I forgot to fly it on Lincoln’s birthday.

Oh wait, I know what’s bothering me: I’m thinking I should fly it upside down — help, Father of Our Country! Nation in distress! Or, worse, fly it at half-staff. If George Washington heard that the country he helped found has more than $16 trillion in national debt (not to mention some $70 trillion in the unfunded liabilities), he would roll over in his Mount Vernon grave.

But this thought brings me to another problem, which is, who cares? How many homes fly the flag on summer’s Independence Day, never mind in midwinter? Who cares what George Washington thought or said? Or even worse: Who was George Washington? (Did he sell cars?)

I think my flag-flying angst began with President Obama’s State of the Union address last week.

OK, I admit I feel asleep between the proposed $9 minimum wage and proposed new gun control. All I’d been hearing was blahblahblah middle-class, need more revenues, tax the rich, balanced approach, invest (spend) more, won’t add a dime to the deficit, infrastructure repair blahblahblah. Sounded just like last year’s presentation.

Sadly, I stayed asleep during Marco Rubio’s Republican response. Missed Rand Paul’s additional response. Woke up to see Fox TV’s Frank Lutz doing a focus group about the speech. Became wide-awake when people who claimed they’d voted for Mitt Romney said they’d liked President Obama’s statements on education (it’s important), immigration (plan to close the borders), the desire for bipartisanship (what???). Wondered: Did they sleep through the entire thing? Or have they just slept through the last four years ...

Next day I caught up on what I’d missed, including Sen. Rubio drinking water, an act that some say has destroyed his political career. Maybe I’m still asleep and dreaming that the world has gone mad.

I turned on Rush Limbaugh at noon; while I don’t care for his ego-driven persona, I’ve started listening to him again since the election because I share his amazement that Barack Obama could have been re-elected. The focus group response puzzled him, too, but then he thought he’d found an explanation: Voters apparently haven’t noticed that Obama is the president, the nation’s chief executive officer.

I know this sounds crazy, but nothing else makes sense either. Rush opined that Obama is still campaigning: He gives speeches about the nation’s problems, lists the many things that need fixing, says he wants to fix them. He doesn’t mention, and people seem not to realize, that he’s the one who’s been in charge for four years! They relate to his concerns, because these are their concerns, too, just as they did when he was running for office the first time and telling voters what they wanted to hear.

And, as he did then, he blames the Republicans. Yes, many of the problems were created by George Bush. But Obama defeated the Republican candidate in 2008! He had a Democratic House and Senate his first two years! He still has the presidency and a Democratic Senate and support for his Obamacare from the U.S. Supreme Court. And yet ... what Rush calls “low-information voters” don’t see this as a reason he should actually be leading with solutions to the problems he and they deplore!

Somehow this disconnect lets the voters believe him no matter how out of touch with reality his actions are. He insists that the fiscal crisis can be solved only with a “balanced approach” of tax increases on the rich and spending cuts, then allows only tax increases, not spending cuts; now he is insisting again on a “balanced approach” with more tax increases on the rich.

He wants and gets stimulus bills for “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects, then years later demands tax increases on the rich to pay for infrastructure projects that haven’t been done. When Republican leaders respond with disbelief, he blames them for ... everything that his administration is not accomplishing.

It does appear that he doesn’t want to actually govern, just to blame Republicans for what he doesn’t get done, so that they lose the House in 2014. Then, with his party controlling the executive and legislative branches again, he can do ... what? Increase the deficit/debt by more trillions? Assault the Second Amendment? Spread the wealth around?

Yes, I think Rush is on to something. Barack Obama is a campaigner, not a CEO, and many people identify with the former without recognizing his failure as the latter.

In the end, I did fly the flag on Monday, celebrating Washington’s birthday, not a generalized Presidents Day that includes those who make self-serving speeches while laying unnecessary burdens on their people.

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Barbara Anderson is a Salem News columnist.