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The Danger of Obama’s Path of Least Resistance

While some in the media marveled at President Obama’s reaching out to the youth of America by slow-jamming the news on the Jimmy Fallon show, I could not shake a feeling of concern.  We have an education crisis, a fiscal crisis, anemic economic growth and countless other crises but he can find time for such. 


(As an aside, it is amazing how small business owners and entrepreneurs – the actual job creators in this economy – have to work 16-hour days when they encounter monumental crises, then have to face demagoguery and higher taxes from leaders in our government – such as our President.  Meanwhile, when our highest leader in government faces his crises, he finds time to slow jam the news . . . but I digress.)


Obama supporters will tell you this is an innovative way to get his message out.  No doubt, this is a valid point and works well for the Obama reelection campaign.  Instead of the passive, marginal voter having to watch boring debates and research policy positions on news telecasts, he or she can now be entertained and do his or her civic duty by getting up to speed on critical current issues simultaneously.  Team Obama takes note of statistics like one-third of Americans under the age of 40 says satirical news-orie....  The problem with using platforms designed for entertainment to discuss policy is that the primary purpose of such programs IS to entertain, not inform.  Even Jon Stewart quipped that he is a “comedian first.”  When informing is secondary to entertaining, under-informing and spinning are probable.  Even though the mainstream media has a left-wing bias, it does function for the primary purpose of informing.  Dispensing information through an entertainment platform is similar to serving junk food that tastes attractively good but is over-processed for easy digestion and has tons of empty calories.  It appeals to the human desire to have fun (in lieu of being educated), allows for the propagation of simple yet unvetted policy positions that could not otherwise withstand significant scrutiny, and creates a class of voters that is hopelessly under-informed on critical issues and confuses celebrity obsession with the civic responsibility of being an informed voter.  To further the point, consider that when Newsweek administered its U.S. Citizenship Test, 29% of the participants could not name the vice-president and 44% could not define the Bill of Rights.  In this state, can we really afford for our citizens to gather critical public policy information from a comedian?


Turning back to Team Obama, we do not see such concern.  Unlike the former clothing retailer Syms’s motto:  “An educated consumer is our best customer”, it seems that Team Obama believes “An UNeducated citizen is the easiest voter – to attract”, providing a path of least resistance.  Hence, more and more, they look to promote their message through non-traditional medium that is “cool”, “trendy” and the like.  The consequence of this is under-information – good for a President that is personally popular with low approval ratings but bad for ensuring that the maximum number of people voting is adequately informed on the issues.


Let us look at some of the ways this is evident in recent political history:

  • Presidential nominee Obama told naïve crowds in 2008 through traditional and non-traditional media that he was going to close Guantanamo Bay within a year of being elected.  Many passive voters brought that it was possible without risking national security.  To this day Guantanamo Bay remains open.
  • Barack Obama campaigned on renewable energy policy in which the government would support subsidies to entities with viable energy solutions instead of political connections.  Peter Schweizer’s Throw Them All Out chronicles that the exact opposite has happened since Obama’s inauguration.
  • A concept as simple as fairness – something children argue about on the playground – is helping to determine tax policy for a federal government with a nearly $4 trillion budget. As I laid out in my blog The Objective Citizen, under Regretfully Rich, Obama is willing to sacrifice tax revenue dollars and growth in order to be “fair”.  Many people do not understand the difference between increasing tax rates and maximizing tax revenue, which is fine with Team Obama since they can push “fairness” – a simpler concept to understand although it makes us all worse off (rich and poor).


I would like to close by revisiting the Jimmy Fallon show.  The crowd cheered while Obama explained he was going to hold Congress to task to get student-loan interest rates lowered.  Funny how the crowd did not boo since a) it was President Obama who signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 into law in the first place, which eliminated subsidization of interest rates on student loans and b) that very provision was allowed in order to give Obama an additional $400 billion (but up to a possible $2.4 trillion) of spending, given his history of spending on useless, crony-capitalism spending (see the Peter Schweizer link above, for example).  Then again, Jimmy Fallon could not get Obama back on the show if he discussed facts in the first place.

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