Obama is a tragic figure. If only he had kept his promise to offer a new tone and be above partisan politics. If only he had made a genuine effort to reach out to and embrace some key Republicans, tonight would have been a no contest and Obama a triumphant victor. But he succumbed to the temptation of Chicago partisanship. He listened to the likes of Valerie Jarret and decided to play only inside the Democrat party lines.

But here is what is really puzzling–rather than make common cause with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and craft a comprehensive legistlative plan to transform the economy and seize the initiative, he went small. He decided to reward financial contributors with insider deals but was strangely passive. He could have taken the lead on the stimulus bill and got out front with three or four key goals. He did not. The bill itself was the quinessential lobbyist payoff tool and stretched things out. It was not integrated with a coherent vision for economic growth. And the results? A weak economy headed back into recession with the added burden of an enormously swollen Federal deficit.

How about health care? Obama’s plan has split the country and galvanized the right. And was Barack proud of his plan? Did he run on it? No on both counts. In fact, when it came to crafting the health care deal on the Hill, Obama reverted to his inivisible status that he cultivated as a State Senator in Illinois. He would vote “present,” but take no risk.

Obama now has been relegated to lying about his record.

Just yesterday he was touting the fact that he has reduced the Federal Deficit. But Obama is not alone with this kind of crazy talk. Bob Cesca, a typical Obama disciple, insists that Obama has worked economic magic:

With the end of fiscal year 2012, the Congressional Budget Office announced the 2012 federal budget deficit: $1.1 trillion. Taken purely at face value, this number is enormous. Yet every Democrat, and especially the Obama campaign, ought to be telling anyone who will listen: Not only has the president cut the deficit by $312 billion during his first term (so far), but he’s cut the deficit by $200 billion in the past year alone. And the CBO projected that the 2013 Obama budget, if enacted as is, would shrink the deficit to $977 billion — a four year total of nearly $500 billion in deficit reduction.

Okay, yeah, I get it. It’s risky to mention the deficit, but not when you couch it in math and the facts.

As I’ve documented before, the CBO reported in January, 2009 that the federal budget deficit for that fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2008, was already $1.2 trillion. President Obama’s additional ’09 spending added another $200 billion to the deficit, bringing the total to $1.412 trillion. Unprecedented and huge, but given the enormity of the financial crisis and the depth of the recession, there weren’t many other options on the table. Add two wars into the mix and there you go.

Forbes magazine offers the best, most objective analysis of the situation I have seen anywhere:

It is easy to dispense with the argument that the president has been tight with money. Assume that during the year 2009 your already-overweight friend gained forty extra pounds, and since then your friend has continued to overeat such that his body weight has remained roughly constant. Since he hasn’t gained much weight in the past four years, can I conclude that he doesn’t have a weight problem? Of course not. Same goes with the president and his spending; a low rate of spending growth does not imply the absence of an extremely high amount of spending. . . .

The first year of the Obama presidency, 2009, is the largest year in decades, with federal outlays totaling a whopping 25.2 percent of GDP. Since then, federal outlays relative to GDP have fallen, but they are still incredibly large. In fact, you have to go back to 1946 to find a year when federal outlays were as large as they have been every year of the Obama presidency.

Having said that, it is impossible to look at the chart and not to see a large ramp up in outlays under George W. Bush — the president who reversed the direction of federal outlays, which had been falling. Indeed, it is perfectly reasonable to argue that much of the responsibility for 2009’s 25.2 percent rests with President Bush, and not with President Obama; in January 2009, before President Obama took office, the CBO released its forecast that fiscal year 2009 would see outlays of 24.9 percent of GDP based on pre-Obama policies. . . .

So is Mr. Obama’s performance on spending quite bad? Yes. But a difference in kind rather than in degree? Over his four fiscal years as president the average outlays-to-GDP ratio is 24.4 percent. During the Reagan years the average was 22.4 percent. Given the Great Recession, this two percentage point difference, though deceivingly very large, isn’t enough to claim that President Obama represents a radical departure from post-war presidents with respect to spending. . . .

Each of Mr. Obama’s annual deficits has been larger than any since the 1940s. Deficits aggregate into debt, and as I have previously written it is reasonable to think of President Obama and George W. Bush as each being responsible for roughly one-third of the debt — with all presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton responsible for the remaining third. (In the absence of George W. Bush, it would of course be much harder, perhaps impossible, to argue that President Obama has not been a radical departure from previous presidents on debt.)

President Obama did significantly increase the path of future federal outlays — e.g., Obamacare — at a time when we need to decrease them. Given our extremely poor long-term budget outlook, this decision strikes many as particularly shocking. Though again, previous presidents have increased future outlays when they needed to be cut. Check your encyclopedia for Bush, George W. . . .

Rather than acknowledge reality, Obama shuts his eyes and pretends things are swell. It is that disconnect with reality that pisses off the average American. We ran into the same phenomena with Bush and Cheney, who insisted we were “winning” in Iraq. We were not and we did not. Iraq is now solidly in Iran’s camp and is no reliable friend of ours. Anyone want to argue that is a winner?

Obama is on his way out. He failed to make good on his vision. He went for the small and the banal. He opted for class warfare rather 21st Century visionary. His legacy will be his sad, pathetic embrace of the likes of Sandra Fluck. That does not create a record that will have people lining up at his Presidential library.

Previous articleElection Open Thread
Next article991 Votes in Ohio at this moment
Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.