Barack Obama doesn't do the mundane. He was sent to us to do larger things. You could see that plainly in his Oval Office address on the gulf oil spill. He could barely get himself through the pedestrian first half: a bit of BP-bashing, a bit of faux-Clintonian "I feel your pain," a bit of recovery and economic mitigation accounting. It wasn't until the end of the speech -- the let-no-crisis-go-to-waste part that tried to leverage the Gulf Coast devastation to advance his cap-and-trade climate-change agenda -- that Obama warmed to his task.
Pedestrian is beneath Obama. Mr. Fix-It he is not. He is world-historical, the visionary, come to make the oceans recede and the planet heal.
How? By creating a glorious, new, clean green economy. And how exactly to do that? From Washington, by presidential command and with tens of billions of dollars thrown around. With the liberal (and professorial) conceit that scientific breakthroughs can be legislated into existence, Obama proposes to give us a new industrial economy.
But is this not what we've been trying to do for decades with ethanol, which remains a monumental boondoggle, economically unviable and environmentally damaging to boot? As with yesterday's panacea, synfuels, into which Jimmy Carter poured billions.
Notice that Obama no longer talks about Spain, which until recently he repeatedly cited for its visionary subsidies of a blossoming new clean energy industry. That's because Spain, now on the verge of bankruptcy, is pledged to reverse its disastrously bloated public spending, including radical cuts in subsidies to its uneconomical photovoltaic industry.
There's a reason petroleum is such a durable fuel. It's not, as Obama fatuously suggested, because of oil company lobbying but because it is very portable, energy-dense and easy to use.
But this doesn't stop Obama from thinking that he can mandate into being a superior substitute. His argument: Well, if we can put a man on the moon, why not this?
Aside from the irony that this most tiresome of cliches comes from a president who is canceling our program to return to the moon, it is utterly meaningless. The wars on cancer and on poverty have been similarly sold. They remain unwon. Why? Because we knew how to land on the moon. We had the physics to do it. Cancer cells, on the other hand, are far more complex than the Newtonian equations that govern a moon landing. Equally daunting are the laws of social interaction -- even assuming there are any -- that sustain a culture of poverty.(continues here)