I hadn't seen this friend for years when I ran into him recently at the mall. "The end is near," was the first thing he said.
I didn't know if he was talking about ISIS or if he thought we're all going to float away due to a planetary heating that's irreversible and catastrophic.
Happily, he was only referring to a calendar.
"Upstairs in the calendar store, a few doors from Victoria's Secret," he explained, "there's a good Obama countdown calendar."
I went upstairs to look for a whole store devoted exclusively to calendars. It's funny how entire shops are now specializing in fewer and fewer things. If edible pot is legalized in Pennsyvania, I won't be surprised if we end up with a "High as @(%!" marijuana candy store in the local mall that carries only one item -- "Mary Jane and Blunt, America's best white chocolate polar bear couple."
In any case, right between the dog calendars and wartime calendars featuring American military jets was the "Yes, the end is near" Obama calendar — "The out-of-office countdown, 2016 through the glorious end! January 20, 2017," featuring some of President Obama's most memorable policy and ideological declarations:
• "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our future deficits."
• "We don't have a strategy yet," regarding ISIS.
• "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
• "I do think at some point, you've made enough money."
• "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
• "I intend to keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you'll be able to keep your doctor; if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan. Period."
Belatedly and more truthfully, regarding the aforementioned falsehood that was repeatedly propagated in peddling ObamaCare, Mr. Obama issued this explanation: "With respect to the pledge I made that if you like your plan you can keep it, the way I put that forward, unequivocally, ended up as not very accurate."
The abovementioned "We don't have a strategy yet" statement from 2014, regarding fighting ISIS in Syria, remains basically unchanged, except President Obama has doubled down on the notion of stabilizing Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan through U.S.-trained foreign forces, a tactic with a long history of brutally failing.
In September, Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East leading the war on ISIS, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that only "four or five" Syrians trained by the U.S. military to battle ISIS remained in the fight, a calamitous and unpromising admission regarding the U.S. Defense Department's $500 million program to train an effective army of indigenous Syrian fighters.
The not "one dime" in future deficits or additions to the federal debt was uniquely true. Rather than one dime in new debt, red ink gushed at flood levels, pushing the nation's total federal debt during the Obama years from a little over 60 percent of GDP to more than 100 percent.
Ralph R. Reiland is a columnist with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the owner of Amel's Restaurant, and an associate professor of economics and the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh
Ralph R. Reiland