October 5th, 2013

Obama: fear itself

Instead of exerting a calming influence, Obama ramps up the fear connected with the shutdown.

Watch his demeanor, too; chilling:

But actually this is nothing new, it’s how Obama rolls. Why do I say that? It was also his reaction (although back then it was more subtly expressed) when he was candidate Obama, during the financial crisis of September 2008.

Here’s what I observed at the time:

Obama’s response has not only been more partisan [than McCain’s], it is also more alarmist. Felix Salmon of Finance Blog compares and contrasts the candidates’ statements on the crisis, and Obama’s comes up short in more departments, including one area I had also noticed: Obama has publicly labeled it “the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.”

…[I]f Obama keeps talking like this, he might do his bit to contribute to its ultimately fitting that definition.

Obama would do well to remember that it was a fellow-Democrat who understood the principle that investor panic can make these things a great deal worse, and who said as much during that Great Depression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Obama is reckless to speak as though a such a catastrophe has already occurred, drumming up fear rather than attempting to calm it through a realistic appraisal of what we are facing right now.

Why would he want to do that? Obama knew that the worse the crisis seemed, the better it was for his chances of election. By immediately painting Republicans as having caused a crisis of the utmost severity, John McCain as out of touch (which he actually was, unfortunately), and himself as the sober solution—despite his complete lack of knowledge of economics—Obama knew it would almost guarantee him the presidency. And the worse the crisis was perceived to be, the more time the public would give him to fix it when he was president, and the longer he could go on blaming Bush for the nation’s problems.

Same here, although of course it’s not Obama running for election. But the Congressional election of 2014 looms, and he’d love to have a Democratic Congress. Making the crisis worse and demonizing Republicans for it (as though he has no options here) may seem like a winning hand.

[NOTE: By the way, FDR actually did something not all that different in the leadup to his 1932 inauguration. He may have uttered the “fear itself” quote after he was president, but beforehand this was his attitude:

Hoover, according to Alter, tried to involve Roosevelt in end-of-term actions, suggesting to the then-President-elect that they jointly appoint delegates to a World Economic Conference to be held in June 1933 (three months after FDR’s inauguration), a highly touted meeting which was arranged to tackle the global Depression. Roosevelt rejected the overture, fearing that his New Deal would be seen as just a continuation of the Hoover Administration if he worked with the departing President.

Alter wrote that on February 18, just two weeks before inauguration day, Hoover tried again to enlist Roosevelt into a joint effort — including a bank holiday — to stabilize markets, but again Roosevelt rebuffed the President.

In his book, Alter quotes James Warburg, a member of Roosevelt’s inner circle. The Roosevelt brain trust “wanted it to get as bad as it was going to get before he took office, so that he could come in on the turn rather than in the continuing downward spiral.”

For his part, years later, Hoover wrote the bank crisis that ensued “was the most political and unnecessary bank panic in all our history” and “it could have been cured by simple cooperation.”

There’s much more on that score. I have some notes for a longer post I plan to write—some day!—on the subject.]

[ADDENDUM: I noticed that the link to the Salmon article in the quote from my post from 2008 seems to go to a shorter version of the article that doesn’t have the full quote. So for anyone who wants to read the whole quote I’m referring to, here’s a link to another article with it, and here’s the important section of the quote:

Obama said that this latest development in the financial world is “as bad as anything we’ve ever seen…This is a serious, serious situation. We’ll have a lot of rebuilding to do. This turmoil is a major threat to our economy. There are too many folks in the U.S. and Washington D.C. who weren’t mending the store. This is the most serious financial condition since the Great Depression.”]

[ADDENDUM II: More here from Larry Kudlow.]

40 Responses to “Obama: fear itself”

  1. sharpie Says:

    And remember how McCain reacted? He suspended his campaign and reinforced the perception of crisis. Obama set the narrative and McCain enforced it.

    Is there any wonder about that family crisis in the Republican family?

    Is it a moral response to say “theatrics” or “I am weary?”

    Or is there demanded an analysis of good and evil, which analysis would eliminate certain family members?

  2. sharpie Says:

    Hugh Hewitt says the defund movement has “catalyzed” Republican causes.


    In breaking the Gordian knot (how many sailors are out there) it helps to stike the knot and loosen it up.

  3. sharpie Says:

    I need to say, thank you Neo, for documenting so quickly that Obama is a fear mongerer.

    You saw it so early. And easily.

    I see your pain of Cassandra.

    Especially magnified in the Northeast. What book club or library function can you attend that allows your message of Obama as destoyer?

    You are exceptional! And we love you!

  4. kcom Says:

    He’s been a dick from day one. “Growing”in the job, i.e. learning (or deciding) to act presidential, apparently has never made it onto his agenda.

  5. kit Says:

    That is one shrill, puny, petty, petulant, mean little president. And I agree that he sent more security to barricade an open air, usually unguared memorial than he did to save Americans in Benghazi.
    Today, he had the barricades at the WWII Memorial wired together and is busy closing parks not even owned or funded by the federal goverbment and he still has time to alarm the markets over the shutdown and sit for his portrait. What a guy!

  6. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Translation – Obama: I am the reasonable person here. It is those bomb-throwing, hostage-taking, radical TEA Party terrorists who are being unreasonable. All they have to do is let me have my way and, voila, all is well.

  7. Otiose Says:

    Our system normally does a pretty good job of screening candidates on their way into the presidency. Is anyone though really ready to be president? Most seem to rise to the challenge and grow into the job. In this case we have someone who by a series of accidents stumbled into the office and remains to this day the same petty small minded ideologue as he was the day he took office. And we have three more years.

  8. expat Says:

    Never let a crisis go to waste. Preceded by: How in the hell can we make a crisis out of this. (EG, a little asbestos in Altgeld, Lily Ledbetter, Gates and the cops, Trayvon Martin, poison gas in Syria)

    This is page one of an intro Community Organizing text. It’s the only thing Obama has ever learned. I hope all those people who didn’t vote for the RINO Romney are happy with what they got.

  9. Ann Says:

    The financial market is filled with very smart people who see this for the political ploy it is, and that will play a huge part in their calculations. So, I’m hopeful that this may not have the scaring effect Obama hoped for.

    Even so, for a president to act so irresponsibly is staggering.

  10. Ymarsakar Says:

    Suffer. In suffering, endure and obtain wisdom, once more in America’s life time.

  11. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    What I find most disturbing about his demeanor is that he gives no sign, none whatsoever, that he knows he’s lying and, he does know he’s lying. There’s absolutely no self-doubt. In his mind, the ends he seeks completely justify lying. We’re witnessing an ideological certainty so strong that it erases all self-doubt, all moral decency. This is fanaticism at its deepest. If it assured victory, there is nothing this man would not contemplate. We are witnessing another example of “the banality of evil” in that, no moral boundaries exist that supersede Obama’s loyalty to the left’s ideology.

  12. expat Says:

    Read some reporter reactions to Obama here:


    The story will come out.

  13. expat Says:

    I don’t know that Obama sees himself as being loyal to the left’s ideology. I think he believes he came up with all this shit himself and only he can perfect the world.

  14. Ray Says:

    It’s so childish. I get my way or I’m going to take my ball and go home. You have to remember that the Democrat base is made up of victims groups and Obama has to continually tell them they are being victimized by those evil republicans, or Wall-Streeters or bankers. Obama has to continually demonize somebody to play the victim card.

  15. southpaw Says:

    “learning (or deciding) to act presidential, apparently has never made it onto his agenda.”
    Assuming he actually believed he wasn’t already the most intelligent human being to have ever sought the presidency. I never saw any indication he thought he had anything to learn about anything. There was never any doubt in his own mind the presidency was a simple matter, for which he was imminently qualified. There is not a trace of humility in Obama.
    It is remarkable that the media on both sides continues to cover this whole shutdown, and especially his childish theatrics with any seriousness. This act is getting old. It’s been shown more than once in the last few years that these dire predictions are ridiculous theater.
    The chin pullers on the right are just as much to blame for promoting the fear- fanning the flames by talking about it incessantly, warning over and again how voters are not going to forget about it, when 90% of them outside the beltway aren’t affected in any way.

    The best way to deal with a spoiled child is to ignore him when he throws a tantrum, not give him 24 hour round the clock coverage and attention. The right wing media needs to downplay the whole thing, and shrug it off as nothing to pay attention to- instead they’re blaming the adults for the child’s tantrum, scolding them and warning with grave seriousness that our Spoiled Brat in Chief will throw a bigger tantrum if they don’t give him everything he wants.

  16. Paul in Boston Says:

    I read on another website, can’t remember which one, that said that 80% of the US government is still fully operational. Does anyone know if that’s true? If so, why aren’t the Republicans shouting that everywhere? If it’s true, who cares how long the “shutdown” goes on. You mean the Dept. of Education is closed for business? Can we make the shutdown last longer, a lot longer?

  17. kit Says:

    You are right, The spoiled little twerp has shut down the ocean at some points. Can you imagine putting up barricades so people cant get to the ocean. He thinks he owns the ocean. Everyone should just laugh at him and then pay him no attention. Too bad the media is so corrupt.

    Sadly, the park police made Viet Nam Vets leave THEIR Memorial. I have been there and it is a very solemn outdoor place. Everyone is very hushed and people are looking for the names of their loved ones and some are taking rubbings of the engraved names and no one speaks above a whisper. One man was standing beside someone’s name while his wife took a photo. There were tears streaming down his face. And no one spoke. We were all silent and sad and respectful.

    Obama is a very little man.

  18. Ann Says:

    This act is getting old.

    Perhaps more folks are coming around to that fact — the latest Gallup shows his approval rating has dropped 3 points since the shutdown began.

    Maybe closing down monuments had something to do with that — Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post:

    Shutting out veterans from their memorial touchstone was more than a bad call, a lapse of judgment, a mere moment of tone-deafness. In reality, it may have been the tidy effort of a box-checking bureaucrat, but it reeked of the small work of a petty bully.

    Ditto the closing of the D-Day cemetery in Normandy, France, where more than 9,000 Americans are buried. And this is the president who recently declared that The American People are not political pawns to be used to score political points?


    Spite is unbecoming a president, as Richard Nixon proved in another era of national disruption. But beyond personality, it is baffling to imagine anyone thinking that the way to winning hearts and minds is by disrespecting the nation’s most beloved demographic.

    Let’s hope Obama continues to overplay his hand, even if it leaves poor Kathleen baffled.

  19. Carl in Atlanta Says:

    I just read that he closed access to the Florida Bay in the Keys this morning.

    Shame on him/them.

    And shame on our MSM.

  20. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    No doubt that’s true. Obama’s narcissistic arrogance would not allow him to recognize his having merely embraced other’s ideas. I’m sure he thinks he understands Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals far better than even Alinsky.

    Hubris and egotism aside however, there’s nothing original about Obama’s ideas, his success is the result of having been groomed for this position, his willingness to use his race, his utter amorality and the confluence of these factors in this place and time.

  21. Mike Says:

    This is not complicated. We have a malicious spiteful and hate-filled person who is President of the United States. In the end, it’s quite sad. Sadder still – the so-called Americans who voted for him…twice.

    Good people make you feel good. Decent people make you feel decent. Hopeful people make you feel hopeful.

    How does the Country feel today? We are afraid. We are anxious. Everyone is on eggshells, thinking something worse might happen any time.

    The best thing that has happened in the last five years happened the day the WW II Vets were barricaded from the Memorial (that alone is enough to damn Obama as the worst President ever – imagine!)….and they “kicked it down”.

    Those guys beat Hitler. In their hearts they laughed at Obama. They were not afraid of that punk.

    The rest of us?

    I must admit, we should feel shame for not being like them all the time; but maybe if we resolve to be; if we work at being….that would give us the needed hope.

  22. gcotharn Says:

    in reaction to financial crisis, McCain suspends campaign; media mega-promotes Obama’s sneering talking point: “we can do more than one thing at a time”. Media’s promotion of this talking point was significantly damaging to McCain.

    in reaction to partial shutdown of government, Obama suspends trip to China, thus demonstrating that he cannot do more than one thing at a time. Media reaction: crickets.

  23. Ymarsakar Says:

    Spite is unbecoming a president, as Richard Nixon proved in another era of national disruption.

    If Nixon wanted to spite you all, he would never have resigned and would have just activated various numbers of bombs underneath your self proclaimed gatekeepers of stories.

    Once again the Democrats are weaving a story about things that are fantasy. And once again, people believe in it. Nothing has changed and nothing will change until America proves that it deserves victory.

  24. Ymarsakar Says:

    So if Obama is evil or sociopathic, what does that make the Left and what does that make all the people who said Obama/Democrats were just misguided?

  25. gcotharn Says:

    something that bothers me:
    if a national monument is “shut down”, then shut it down. Do not pay to have barricades put up; do not pay to have the monument guarded against citizens who want to visit. Instead: shut down, for real. Send the security guys home. Let citizens wander these parks.

  26. carl in atlanta Says:

    Are we approaching an “I am Spartacus” moment in America ?

  27. Will Says:

    Back in 2007 when we were standing around that camp-fire, back when the worm was still turning, when I discovered who I was and this fine blog, we discussed, what if. What if that SOB actually became president and what might transpire. Speculation was wild, but really not that far off the mark, with time left for more extremism. I continue to wait for “our Ellsburg” the one who will step up, deliver that hard drive, send that email, do what “he needs to do”.

  28. Sgt. Mom Says:

    I think the closing-off of the otherwise open to the sky monuments on the Mall, and elsewhere in Washington might be our childish and spiteful president’s undoing. Because it take a great deal more effort to close off a bunch of nice landscaping with some monumental structures in it than it does to keep them ostensibly open.
    Putting cones in the way of a scenic turn-off? Keeping people from visiting a venue on NPS property which has been self-supporting and kept open by volunteer organizations for decades?
    No – this administration is spiteful and vicious and petty, and they may have gone just too far.
    It’s funny, these things that become lightning-rods for popular protest.
    I hope that Barrycade goes into popular usage for this kind of maneuver.

  29. Ymarsakar Says:

    Have I mentioned that I hate the Leftist alliance?

    Well, if I didn’t, there it is.

  30. Charles Says:

    Also, this caught my ears, so please, someone correct me if I’m hearing this wrong:

    Obama says: “Democrats and Republicans disagree – that’s the way our founders designed it; Democracy’s messy.”

    WTF? The founders didn’t design anyone disagreeing, they didn’t design it messy. They did, however, designed our government to take such things into consideration. Isn’t that what he should have been trying to say?

    This guy is not only an idiot, he is using “speaking points,” “sound bites,” or whatever you want to call them without knowing what they really mean. He so reminds me of many of my college professors who didn’t know sh!t; they just knew the jargon.

    Or am I just afflicted with Obama derangement syndrome? The guy is a putz!

  31. Ann Says:

    Wag the dog? U.S. forces reportedly carry out missions in Somalia and Libya

  32. expat Says:

    I don’t really think Obama says much about such things. He is probably intimidated by the military and intelligence people and says OK to their proposals as long as it is not likely to screw up his agenda. He is as bored by the military as he is by the suburbs.

  33. NeoConScum Says:

    His Infantile Majesty is a loathsome punk and moral coward. Feckless Harry is detestable. Pelosi is a hateful Twit. ALL are liars. Lying liars who lie as easily as they breath.

    NEVER have I feared more for my country.

  34. Ymarsakar Says:

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.-Guess Who

    There’s your Living Document and Constitution for you. It can’t live without the blood of You Know Who.

    I would rather die having spoken in my manner, than speak in your manner and live. For neither in war nor yet in law ought any man use every way of escaping death. For often in battle there is no doubt that if a man will throw away his arms, and fall on his knees before his pursuers, he may escape death, if a man is willing to say or do anything. The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs deeper than death. -Socrates before Athenian death panel

  35. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    kit said, That is one shrill, puny, petty, petulant, mean little president.

    Whoo. Yes.

  36. Francesca Says:

    Time to add the word ‘sadistic’ to our list of adjectives for our Dear Leader.

  37. Ann Says:

    Very good, hard-hitting piece by Kudlow. But these two sentences I question:

    “The difference between Obama and Boehner on this and other subjects is that Mr. Obama lacks a sense of historical experience and doesn’t recognize what a high-stakes game he is playing. Mr. Boehner, on the other hand, has the benefit of years of high-level experience, and he knows how dangerous loose lips can be in affecting the markets and economy.”

    That was the same approach Romney took last year during his campaign. I’d really like to know if he and Kudlow truly believe it’s just a lack of a sense of historical experience and awareness of what’s at stake.

  38. Beverly Says:

    Fits in perfectly with Comrade Zero’s worldview: he hates America, and would love nothing better than to be standing on Old Glory in the dust like his vicious political mentor, terrorist Bill Ayres.


  39. Capn Rusty Says:

    I lived in the Black Hills for a while back when. There’s a great spot on the highway that leads up to Mt Rushmore where you can pull over – for free; no gate, no guards, nobody being paid to run it – into a couple lanes with a great view of the monument. I saw on Twitchy this morning that Obama’s minions had put up traffic cones to block access to those lanes. I guess he doesn’t want anyone to see what Great Presidents look like. Pure spite.

  40. sharpie Says:

    A letter from representative Campbell that expresses the frustrations over the outrages that over and over again have led to success:


    There’s an answer worth trying; can’t say I’m very good at, but I’m told one gets better with practice. (See the video and the prayer which switches focus from one’s own plight to the suffering and help of others.)

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