Obama’s Delusions of Grandeur

by | Mar 28, 2015

Does President Barack Obama suffer from delusions of grandeur?

President Barack Obama

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM), delusions of grandeur are principally a subtype of delusional disorder. According to the manual, symptoms include a “grossly exaggerated” belief of self-worth; power; knowledge; identity; or the ability to control things one cannot control.

Does President Barack Obama suffer from delusions of grandeur?

Consider his recent musings in a CNN interview, and judge for yourself.

On CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” President Barack Obama said he was most proud of “saving the American economy” and he is “very confident that America is stronger, more prosperous, safer, and more influential today than it was when I took office.”

Assuming all that is true: Is any of that due to him? Regardless of your political persuasion, does a President create economic growth? Or do actors in the economic marketplace create that growth?

Progressives like Obama appear to believe that government intervention in the economy creates economic growth. Obama points to his policies of increased government spending, higher taxes, massively increased federal debt and increased regulation (including but not limited to socialization of medical care), and he views these as growth. But these all involve growth of government, not growth of the economy.

Regardless of your evaluation of these policies, they do not involve creation of anything that didn’t exist before, other than government offices, agencies or programs (spent with other people’s money). Economic interventionism — objectively speaking — involves taxing and redistributing resources and moving them into arenas the government considers more productive or moral. Whether you agree with this intervention or not, nothing new is created. For Obama, or anyone else, to claim that these policies create anything new is self-evidently false. The fact that he really seems to believe it makes Obama profoundly dishonest — or seriously delusional.

The president said, “I’m proud of saving the American economy. We still have a long way to go. Essentially what we did was stabilize it, lay a new foundation to move forward. As I said in the State of the Union address, that gives us, now the capacity to tackle what was an overriding theme of my campaign way back in 2008.  And that is to restore middle class economics and the capacity for people to get into the middle class and start seeing higher wages and a broader shared prosperity inside the United States.”

Can a President single-handedly save an economy as vast and complex as America’s? Obama seems to think so, at least in his case. But it isn’t so. Let’s say you’re a Reagan Republican. Reagan led the way in policies where taxes were drastically cut, and government spending and regulation increased at less of a rate of increase than they otherwise would have. The economy, by standards of actual economic growth, did better than it had in decades, and better than at any point since. Does this mean Reagan saved the economy? No. It means that Reagan’s policies contributed to removing some of the obstacles to economic growth that — particularly since the 1920s and 1930s — had been put in place. Reagan deserves credit for his leadership, but not for saving anything. It was only temporary anyway, because government continued to grow and taxes were ultimately raised again.

Obama claims to have saved the economy, but the evidence is weak to nonexistent. It’s true that unemployment numbers are down, but this only applies in the context of failing to count people who have given up the search for work. More people are on food stamps and Social Security disability than ever before. For example, 90 million Americans are no longer in the labor force, and simply have given up searching for work. It’s the “new normal,” and while Obama calls it progress and recovery, that’s not truly the case. Food stamp use is up at least 39 percent, and federal disability is up at least 13 percent. [see “The Hidden Jobless Disaster” by Edward P. Lazear at The Wall Street Journal online]. Whatever you think of these government programs, these facts are certainly not a sign of economic strength and success. They’re a signal of weakness.

More recent economic news, from just last week, was reported at Bloomberg.com 2/1/15:

… while the world’s largest economy grew at a 2.6 percent annualized rate, the gain fell short of the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg and was well below the 5 percent pace in the third quarter, Commerce Department figures showed Friday in Washington.

Although consumer spending might be up due to unexpectedly lower gas prices (which are determined by supply and demand, not by Obama), businesses are slowing down. Why? Because they’re constantly dealing with new assaults via regulation, taxation, Obamacare and all the rest. What Obama defines as “progress” and what business defines as progress are two entirely different things. Yet Obama takes credit for economic health that’s mostly does not exist.

So on what basis does Obama (1) claim that any President — himself or any other — can save an economy; and (2) claim that he has in fact saved an economy in which more people are dependent on the federal government for relief than ever before? These numbers either suggest a continuing recession or depression; or they suggest that vast numbers of people are sucking off the government via fraud and misrepresentation. Why is either anything to brag about?

“Internationally, I’m proud of the fact that we’ve responsibly ended two wars. Now, people will say, well, you’re back in Iraq, but we’re not back in Iraq with an occupying army, we’re back with a coalition of 60 countries helping to stabilize the situation,” he added.

Obama can claim he ended two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, at least for the most part. But he only ended them by losing them. Afghanistan is no better or worse off than when Americans entered the country. In fact, the Taliban may be on the rise again in Afghanistan. [See nytimes.com 1/31/15, “Taliban Justice Gains Favor as Official Afghan Courts Fail”] Ousting the Taliban for its role in 9/11 was the whole reason for going into Afghanistan in the first place, and presumably the reason why Obama stayed there as long as he did.

As for Iraq, it’s increasingly in a state of anarchy and subject to the rule of ISIS (or ISIL, take your pick), a roving band of Islamic terrorists who threaten the safety and stability of the region. While Obama cannot be blamed for the lack of a specific endgame ever identified by the prior administration, running away from a problem and leaving an even bigger one in its place is hardly something to whitewash over as “ending” a war. He did not end any war by winning, and he did not even leave it as a draw. He lost it.

He concluded, “And so one of the things I’ve learned in this job over the last six years is that sometimes progress is incremental. But when I look at overall the steps that we’ve taken, I believe they are the right ones. I am very confident that America is stronger, more prosperous, safer, and more influential today than it was when I took office.”

“Stronger”? By what standard? We are spending significantly less on defense, we are no longer modernizing our military and in some respects we’re back at the levels of military strength we had prior to World War II. Yet with the Middle East now completely destabilized, Israel without an American ally (except for possibly the U.S. Congress), and Russia once again on the move as an aggressive threat, the world is more dangerous than when Obama entered office. Militant Islam is stronger than at any time since 9/11, and terrorist acts against Western or free peoples occur regularly. Does anyone not think it’s only a matter of time before there’s another attack against America directly by Islamic terrorism? And since Obama will not get the blame, who or what will?

“More prosperous”? By what standard? Are more people relying on government food stamps, disability and other benefits the definition of strength? Will we be more prosperous when 25 or 40 percent are on disability, and when 55 or 60 percent are on food stamps? Is that what Obama meant when he expressed regret that change has only been incremental? These are the changes we have seen. Are more people dependent on government programs and fewer people working (without calling it unemployment) Obama’s concept of incremental progress? What would total progress look like?

Only a politician would be capable of fooling himself that he creates anything at all. Only a delusional politician would describe the condition of the United States after enduring seven years of relentless attacks on our military strength and private economic activity as “progress.” It’s true that America has survived the Obama years, so far. But that’s about the best we’ll ever be able to say.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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