By Michael Goodwin
The president's still whining about the problems he inherited when he took office and he's still blaming Republicans. And the American people are tuning him out at a stunning pace.
The other day, I wrote that President Obama has "run out of both charm and ideas." I was too kind.
To judge from the string of whoppers in his dreary jobs speech yesterday, he's also run out of facts. And he's still whining about the problems he inherited and blaming Republicans.
He might as well be barking at the moon. That's sort of what he is doing, because the American people are tuning him out at a stunning pace.
The latest Gallup Poll gives him a record low 47 percent approval. Only 26 percent in another poll say he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. Naturally, his press secretary attacks the pollsters, likening them to children with crayons.
And Obama plunges on with his blame-game act. It's tired, unpresidential and ineffective, all the more so because he's banking on a bill of goods to prop himself up.
The most egregious example came when Obama said yesterday the $700 billion bank-bailout fund, or TARP, was "launched hastily under the last administration" and was "flawed."
Here are the facts. George Bush was in the White House, but Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Obama himself, as a senator, voted for the bailout in October 2008.
No one claims the bill was perfect, but there is no record --zero -- of Obama trying to fix it. Remember, it was John McCain who rushed back to Washington after the first version failed and tried to get involved to reshape it.
McCain flubbed the effort, but Obama made none. He only reluctantly joined a White House conference with McCain and Bush on the bailout after urging Congress "to step up to the plate and get this done."
He went on the Senate floor and said there wasn't time to fiddle with the bill before leaving the details to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said at the time, "No one knows what to do."
Fortunately, there were people who knew what to do. Timothy Geithner, then chairman of the New York Federal Reserve and now Obama's treasury secretary, was deeply involved with Bush's treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, in shaping the legislation that helped to avert a financial crash.
That 2008 vote released half the TARP money, with a second vote coming in January 2009, a week before Obama was inaugurated. He wanted the second installment of $350 billion, and most Democrats, along with a handful of Republicans, voted to give it to him.
The record is clear: The $700 billion bailout was crafted on a bipartisan basis, with Obama's support and encouragement, and he has controlled most of the money. For him to now claim otherwise is disgraceful.
Of course, no Obama speech is complete without straw men bearing false choices, and yesterday's was no exception, as this passage shows:
"There are those who claim we have to choose between paying down our deficits on the one hand, and investing in job creation and economic growth on the other. But this is a false choice."
It's not a false choice, given the context of Obama's plan to use $200 billion of the TARP money as a slush fund to help small businesses. That's not the deal he made in January.
Angry over how Paulson and Geithner used the first half, Congress set tighter restrictions on the money because it was borrowed and thus added to the deficit. The intent was to repay it as soon as possible, not to turn it into a revolving pot of discretionary spending for the White House.
Still, Obama was just getting warmed up. The earlier misleading claims were mere prelude to his Whopper of the Day: "One of the central goals of this administration is restoring fiscal responsibility."
Does a single American believe that? Does he?