Barack Obama thinks Jack Bauer is cool. He must, because the President is obviously trying to be like him in pursuing his agenda. Jack Bauer started out in the first season as the head of CTU, a shadowy group who did pretty much as they pleased, accountable to no one, although Bauer was in frequent communication with the President, a tall urbane black man with no apparent qualifications for the job beyond his ability to speak seriously in deep tones. Barack Obama has made it clear he feels entitled to do as he pleases (“I won”, he reminds those who question his strident partisan tone), and he is accountable to no one. Barack Obama is also a tall urbane black man with no apparent qualifications for the job beyond his ability to speak seriously in deep tones, although we have yet to see Obama in an Allstate commercial.
Many of Jack Bauer’s discussions begin along the lines of “listen to me carefully and do exactly what I tell you to do.” Many of Obama’s early directives and orders are similarly lacking in debate and consideration of alternatives. As far as Obama is concerned, only his opinion matters. It’s not like he thinks he’s a dictator or some kind of king, though – he’s just following after what Jack would do.
Jack Bauer has an effective way of cutting through annoying details like discussing whether his plan is an effective solution to the crisis or just a risky bit of ego and arrogance, by assuring people that “there’s no time!”. President Obama has no interest in discussing alternatives or defending the massive pork in his “stimulus” bill, so he simply warns that failure to do as he demands could lead to “catastrophe”. Yet somehow Obama lacks Bauer’s panache’ when he tries that line. In fact, he begins to look distinctly uncool, almost Jimmy-Carterish in his clear inability to explain his program’s functions and defend it’s cost.
Barack Obama’s essential mistake is that just as Jack Bauer does not in fact exist, so too Obama’s explanation of his stimulus program is built using fictions and bald-faced lies. The Congressional Budget Office is no fan of Obama’s plan, warning that “President Obama’s economic recovery package will actually hurt the economy more in the long run than if he were to do nothing“.
Worse, Obama’s plan does not directly help people who have already been impacted the most by the recession and financial crisis:
• The crisis began with the sub-prime mortgage crisis, with many Americans losing their homes to foreclosure; the stimulus package offers nothing to address these conditions, but instead offers a tax credit for people buying homes, although someone who has lost their home to foreclosure will be very unlikely to be in a position to buy another one anytime soon.
• The secondary crisis for many Americans is the devaluation of their 401k accounts and the plummeting value of their homes. But rather than create a plan which protects the remaining savings and encourages thrift, the Obama plan depends on spurring spending, even when households cannot afford to spend money on the obligations they already have.
• The scariest part of the recession so far, is the loss of jobs. President Obama himself has repeatedly said that the top priority needs to be creating new jobs. But the stimulus plan endorsed by Obama does not create jobs to match the need. Much of the money spent is not going to create jobs at all. The Wall Street Journal observed that $90 billion is going straight to Medicare, another $79 billion to supplement state revenues, and $43 billion for government transportation projects already underway. The WSJ notes that the little bit designed to create jobs will have no effect until late 2009 at the earliest.
No one points out the hypocrisy in rushing to avoid debate on a bill because of urgent need, when that bill will not even begin to do what is promised for half a year or more, if it works at all.
• The bill which just passed the Senate will cost every American who still has a job about $8800 in new taxes, plus interest. This at a time when everyone admits spending needs to be cut and no one can afford extra burdens.
That’s the biggest difference between Obama and Jack Bauer. When Bauer gets to be old or unbelievable, you can just turn off the TV. Obama plans to be controlling your life and eating out your wallet for a long, long time to come.