It’s kinda cruel of Steve Jobs to overshadow Barack Obama, don’t you think? As if the president did not have enough troubles--what with his falling approval rating and crumbling agenda and all. Now, along comes Jobs, the CEO of Apple, to show Obama how it’s done.
“How what is done?” you might ask. Answer: How to make things cool. In this case, it’s the new iPad, which Jobs debuted in San Francisco this morning. But just a few years ago, it was the iPhone, and before that, the iPod, and before that, various Apple products, going all the way back to the legendary Macintosh, which debuted in the 1984 Super Bowl. All of them cool, all of them better than their rivals -- no wonder people waited in line to get them.
By contrast, on the other coast, Obama will come poking along with his State of the Union address, which few are likely to like.
But wait a second: Wasn’t Obama the epitome of cool, just a year ago? And before that, during the 2008 election season, wasn’t his presidential campaign on the cutting edge of everything new and cool?
Well, yes. What a difference a year makes. Who knew that Mr. Hope & Change, Mr. Cool himself would commit his presidency to a bunch of retro-policies--notably “Obamacare”--that the Democrats had dusted off from the Truman administration, to say nothing of the Clinton administration?
In an era when Americans have come to expect systems not only to work, but to be cool, the Obamans gave us the Post Office. Actually, they weren’t going to give it to us, they were going to impose it on us. We would have to pay, a lot, for a Great Leap Backward into the era of bureaucrats stamping things in triplicate. And not being nice about it.
So of course the American people rejected Obamacare, and will reject the Democrats, too, if they continue to push Obama’s health care plan. What the American people want is a health care system that works as well as Mac--it’s nice that it looks nice, but the real value is that it works. It gets the job done. And it’s easy to use--from the start, when you take it out of the box.
Steve Jobs can make such an offer to the American people, and people stand in line to get it--voting with their feet, and their credit cards. By contrast, Barack Obama makes his offer to the American people, and the voters go running in the opposite direction.
There’s a lesson there. Jobs is famous as an obsessive--obsessive in his desire to make his products better. Does anybody think that Obama has a similar determination to make the government better? Or that Obama has anything like the vision and technical skill of Jobs?
Of course not. Not anymore, that’s for sure. And now, to compound the stark contrast, both men appear on the same day, touting their wares.
We can only imagine what the world would be like today if Obama had sat down with Jobs a year ago--and, in the spirit of fair & balancee, with other top CEOs and tech visionaries, too--and said, “How can we make our health care system cool? How can we make it work better? How can we make it cheaper? How can we make it do all the things that you do in your business--drive costs down, drive performance up?” The answers that would have come back from those techsters would have been hard for a liberal Democrat to swallow--and that’s why the meeting never happened. But Silicon Valley types would have pointed the way toward a popular plan that would have been popular--as popular as an iPhone app -- 3 billion of which have been downloaded so far. Now that’s popular enthusiasm, the kind that the Democrats sorely need right now.
So today was a tale of two cities. And two leaders, with different visions--very different fates ahead of them.
James P. Pinkerton is founder and editor of Serious Medicine Strategy.com and a Fox News contributor.