Jay Ambrose - Empty-chair leadership doesn't sit right

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The Democrats are hysterical to the point of waging a war on the elderly, or at least on 82-year-old Clint Eastwood, who gave us a lasting image of President Barack Obama at the GOP convention. He is an empty chair, the filmmaker suggested, though just how empty was something we learned earlier in a speech by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Eastwood's presentation was short and satirical. Hers was longer and deadly serious as she talked about failed economic policies on top of something else: neglect in showing either friends or foes where America stands on vital issues.

Rice did not minimize the leadership task, pointing to "internal strife" in the Middle East, dictators who "butcher" their own people, the "ultimate sacrifice" of Americans in war and the support needed by "fledgling democracies."

But since World War II, she said, we have stood for "free peoples and free markets" and if we do not lead again, there will either be "chaos" or "others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum."

The former secretary spoke of China's rise and gave us some frightening facts that cannot be disputed even by liberal fact checkers seeking out other liberals to confirm their liberalism.

In the past three years, our country has ratified just three trade treaties, all of them negotiated in the Bush years, she said. China has signed 15 free-trade treaties "and is negotiating 20 more."

Calling for the election of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, she said the world now sees that the United States cannot live "within our means." And in this nation of ours -- "the most successful political and economic experiment in human history" -- we have not previously fallen back on "a narrative of grievance and entitlement," she also said.

Grievance and entitlement, of course, are precisely the themes the Obama administration uses to justify its existence.

This is the week that the Democrats once again nominate Obama and during which he and his henchmen once more stir up envy against the rich while promising others something for nothing.

His cohorts, forever dividing us up into groups to be wooed in separation from the whole, will give us plenty of talk, for instance, about the supposed Republican war on women.

To be sure, you have to be extraordinarily estranged from reality to lap up this stuff. Republicans do not much like an Obamacare provision providing free birth control when it can be purchased at a pittance. The rich are among those to profit from the insurance benefit, while those struggling to make ends meet are among those whose premiums will go up to pay for it. This is OK?

It's this kind of interventionist financial pandering on a much larger scale and in utterly negligent ways -- such as a pork-filled, corrupt, largely ineffective and threatening stimulus -- that has been robbing the middle class of its money.

During the Obama years, in which debt has climbed to a record-high $16 trillion, which could spell our absolute ruin if nothing is done to control it, something else has gone down: median household income. When Obama took office, it was $54,983, according to the Census Bureau, as reported in The Wall Street Journal. Today, it is $50,964, adjusted for inflation. The arithmetic is easy: a drop of $4,019.

Even though Obama does not deserve all the blame, his reckless fiscal policies were on the order of an anchor tossed to a drowning man.

It is also Obama policies that will make things worse in a second term if he further succeeds in dissuading business investments with his extended welfare state, slow-growth tax policies and avoidance of debt solutions.

That's what you get from empty chairs.

(Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.)

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