Skip to comments.Victor Davis Hanson: More on the New Horizon [The 'Change' Is Definitely Here]
Posted on 02/11/2009 7:54:35 AM PST by Tolik
The "Change" Is Definitely Here.
The jury's still out on the "Hope" part
A strange thing, this Obama worship (cf. the New York Times op-ed on Sunday where the columnist imagined having sexual relations with Obama) and Bush hatred (cf. the Will Farrell Broadway show trashing Bush, and showing images of his purported penis). They are flipside manifestations of the same sickness that has taken hold of a large subset of the population. Millions seems to think by demonizing A and worshipping B, then once intractable problems (that transcend both As faults and Bs merits) suddenly, magically will disappear. But the apocalyptic style is quite dangerous, and the 20th century should have told us that answers are not found through fixating evil on them and seeking a He to address it. In the meantime, civility is prized, and one should criticize Obama in a spirit and tone that are the exact opposites of the way in which Bush was demonized.
That said, stranger, read on:
Change You Can Imagine
Americans know that Obama announced his candidacy on certain principles and positions on the issues that are now, well, problematic
campaign financing reform,
withdrawal from Iraq,
the Patriot Act,
talking with Iran,
lobbyists and ethics
and on and on.
Most are silent about this metamorphosis, since the change from his initial positions was in many cases for the good. I agree that the newer Obama is far more realistic than the 2006-7 version. Some welcomed common sense I guess trumps the charge of hypocrisy.
Three observations about such flexibility:
a) Yes, all primary candidates shift positions in the general elections and then often shift back in the first year or two of office (until they get burned and need to return to triangulation). So even Obamas breath-taking flip-flop-flips have some historical precedents. (Still, I do not understand why Obama didnt Morris-like triangulate against the Congressional Democrats and the Republicanssomething like x gave you this mess, and y wants the same old, same old pork rather than my z-way out.)
b) That said, I think a number of Americans are not quite sure what the current Obama position is on tax cuts, the future of publicly financed Presidential elections, rendition, ethics in governmentor really on anything. Everything, in contrast, seems in play on any given day. Any position can be hoped and changed with soaring cadences, so the question is what position will fit today, but perhaps not tomorrow?
c) That said again, I think from the first three weeks in office, and the rhetoric of the base, and a few solid facts, we can assume there are about five areas in which Obama really will break from the past, and these issues will prove contentious in the next year or so. Here are examples.
1. Big Brother. In the past eight years there was great acrimony about shredding the Constitution. Some of us did not think the Patriot Act, FISA, renditions, or Guantanamo had, by historical measures during the exigencies of war, damaged the civil liberties of Americans, but in toto had made it much more difficult for radical Islamists to repeat 9/11.
Many disagreed. But recently Obamas has mentioned a number of things that suggest the government or private concerns might in other areas be quite intrusiveand they will be so without the watchdog Left that was once keen to any perceived intrusion of Mr. Bushs administration:
A) We hear that the President wants eyes and ears to monitor the stimulus bill, as in reporting those to a website who supposedly stray from proper conduct (do we really want a nationally-sanctioned, electronic vigilante group reporting to the White House each time a nebulous they purportedly takes away their fair share of government stimulus hand-outs?);
B) Did you have a strange cough in 1978? We are told that our health records, which of course are blueprints to how our lives were lived, will become part of a national data base (do we really wish some clerk in HHS or a regional office, with instant access to the details of 300 million Americans, leaking (cf. Joe the Plumber and leaks about his post-marriage problems) information that candidate X, critic Y, or political opponent Z had a positive TB test once, or took some meds for some unmentionable disease, or tried an anti-depressant for a month or so?);
C) Then there are a number of internet companies like Google that are developing technologies that allow retrieval of information in quite unprecedented fashion (e.g., I am amazed that we spend hours beating ourselves up over the FISA acts about wiretapping terrorists phone calls, but are unworried about the ability, in just a few seconds, to find out what the backyard patio, or the condition of the roof, of any American looks like through Google Earth.)
D) Obama is fixated on talk radioserially mentioning Limbaugh and Hannity, the two top draws. I remember talk radio in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Yes, many of you remember?it was sort of OK, lets discuss the local sewer plant, or Aliens have been among us since 1951 or Call in to vote on your favorite heavy metal band. So do not believe that the fairness doctrine is deadit isnt and the argument wont be made that we need free speech, but rather we need kind and civilized discourse so that the selfish and hate-mongers dont drown out the chance for a small, occasional progressive response.
2) Israel. If Netanyahu is elected in Israel, and if the Obama team feels that the key to historic progress in the Middle East lies in rehabilitating Hamas, or in forcing 99.9% withdrawal from the West [Bank], or hinges on normalization with Iran, then look for a fundamental recalibration of our relationship with Israel, as we lock horns with our traditional ally. Ill leave it at that.
Note well: one of Obamas first acts was to allot $20 million for help in settling refugees from Gaza, apparently (?) in the United States. That seems to be unwise, especially given the Palestinian clapping to news of 9/11 on the West Bank. E.g.,
By the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including section 2(c)(1) of the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962 (the Act), as amended (22 U.S.C. 2601), I hereby determine, pursuant to section 2 (c) (1) of the Act, that it is important to the national interest to furnish assistance under the Act in an amount not to exceed $20.3 million from the United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund for the purpose of meeting unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs, including by contributions to international, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations and payment of administrative expenses of Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the Department of State, related to humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees and conflict victims in Gaza.
3) Afghanistan. In the current  World Affairs, I wrote about the politicization by the Left of the Afghanistan/good war, and Iraq/bad war, and how that contortion was disingenuous. The upshot was that when Iraq settled down, as it likely would, then chest-beating liberals on Afghanistan were sort of forced into a put your money where you mouth was stance. They had preened that we unfortunately shorted the right war due to the quagmire in Iraqand logically of course now have their chance to rectify things. Yet with no more quagmire in Iraq, I doubt they will now wish to put their eye on the ball in Afghanistan. Again, the bottom line is that soon a rationalization (watch the op-ed columns first, then State Dept communiqués) will emerge that Afghanistan is either not worth it or unwinnable as we slowly back out of the country.
4) Taxes everywhere? Conservatives use to call supply-side economics starving the beast on the flawed assumption that with less revenue, there would be commensurate cuts in wasteful government spending. Hardly. Now liberals are force-feeding the beast on the valid assumption that by spending astronomical sums on government, there will have to be tax hikes and the long desired return to redistributions of income.
If one were to do the math on the multi-trillions in aggregate debt and annual deficits in the next 4 years, then one would conclude as soon as we get to positive GDP growth, and get back to unemployment below 7%, we will see some stunning tax-increases. I can envision combined state and federal income tax increases to levels of well over 50-60% in aggregate (we are almost there now), which, when combined with existing (and perhaps soon to be increased) FICA rates, would easily put those above $150,000 (or will the hit level be at 200-250K? voiced during the campaign?) in the 70% income tax bracket. And such hikes will be justified as patriotic, and paying your fair share, coupled with rhetoric about the rich otherwise flying to the super bowl in private jets (see the Monday Obama press conference)as if the professional couple making $225,000 routinely gets in their $40 million Citation X to fly cross-country. There will always be an example cited of some Wall Street selfish SOB to justify the raising of taxes on the local hardware store owneruntil the upscale lawyer or community doctor or full professor at last cries out Wait, why I am included with the greedy they who must pay higher taxes?
5) Counting everybody. I think we will also see a radical redirection on the census, which in its most expansive manifestation is the linchpin for everything from congressional redistricting and justification for affirmative action to national statistical data that is key to justifying redistributive efforts of government. As it comes under the White House umbrella (had Karl Rove tried that .), I would imagine a radical surge in the number of women and minorities who are counted, and issues of immigration and legality becoming suddenly problematic.
Change, at last
In other words, many of us cynicswho did not quite believe the Obama Hope and Change caravans last summer, and who were quick to tally all the times Obama simply trashed Bush and then adopted his positions, or flip-flopped on his original stances to beat Hillary and then Bushwill have to grant that Obama on issues like the above really is going to bring radical change.
So yes, hope and change in some sense are on the way, and I think there is a very good chance that the government and/or sympathetic private concerns will both know more about us, and know more about us for patriotic and good reasons than ever before. And I believe in four years our foreign policy will essentially become indistinguishable from that of the European Unions . Finally with the stimulus, restructuring of the census, and recalibration of taxation, we will see traditional Democratic constituencies strengthened and institutionalized in ways we have not seen since the 1930s.
Let me know if you want in or out.
Links: FR Index of his articles: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/keyword?k=victordavishanson
His website: http://victorhanson.com/
NRO archive: http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson-archive.asp
I had not heard about 0bama spending $20 million to resettle Palestinians in the U.S. Talking about importing terrorism!
Every American should refuse to pay for this anti American agenda.
Heavy Hitter, VDH, is hitting them out of the park.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
A Few Modest Suggestions for Our President [Victor Davis Hanson]
1) Calling for bipartisanship seems contradicted when you then allege that those who disagree are being "partisan", and you preface almost every major issue with a blanket invective against the past eight years, even when you seem to adopt many of the past policies, from rendition to FISA. Perhaps try to raise the debate from one of your opponents seeking cheap advantage to one of innate philosophical differences, and then try to cease the campaign mode. The election is over. Bush is gone. Like it or not, the executive responsibility of the U.S. is now yours alone.
2) Those who will embarrass you the most are not the Republican minority, but your own Congressional majority. That majority will shortly, no doubt, attempt to have an inquisition of past administration officials, to repeal the fairness doctrine, to move to politicize the census, and to so expand the government that taxes will at some point bother even the upscale professionals who now so welcome your presidency. Remember, the same instinct that makes a Wall Street pirate want a Citation X also drives Speaker Pelosi to enjoy a Congressional jet; mutatis mutandis, what drove a Richard Fuld or Franklin Raines also drove a Charles Rangel and Chris Dodd. The difference was not in the intent, but only in the means.
3) We got the message already of a new horizon, new dialogue, new partnership, novus ordo seclorum, etc. overseas with our allies and a new reaching out to our enemies. They get it too. All that is fine and psychologically reassuring. But Bush 2005-8 was about as multilateral as you could get; governments in Europe are pro-American. Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, China, etc. offer challenges that transcend American politics. The chances are likely that, for all the utopian visions, you will quietly conclude that the Bush second term, faced with bad and worse choices, did about what you will do now. So perhaps a little more tragic, quiet, and calm acceptance of the fact human nature is, well, human nature, and a little less soaring rhetoric of the summer-2008 style. Reexamine what Jimmy Carter said from November 1976 to January 1977and what he learned of the world by late 1979.
4) Remember that the more you claim unprecedented morality (cf. the higher the rhetorical bar of ethics was raised to the skies, the easier Daschle, Geithner, Richardson, Solis, et al. pranced under its material form), the easier it is for facts to belie the rhetoric. Bush learned that with the smoke 'em out, bring 'em on lingo that was countered by the looting, the pullback from Fallujah, etc. For Bill Clinton to appoint a Daschle is a misdemeanor, for you it's a felony.
5) When it comes to town meetings and press conferences: One-minute answers with direct tough talk designed to frame not so easy choices are worth 10 minutes of Harvard Law Review recall and Great Society idealism. Perhaps read just a bit more Sophocles and less Reverend Warren. If one must repeat one's self, a five-second "Don't worry, we're going to make it fine," or "We've been through far worse together" is worth hundreds of long convuluted Chicken-Little riffs on "worst since the Great Depression", "catastrophe," and "impending disaster." Markets are not always rational, and, as reflections of human nature, they can be lectured into psychological depression.
Radical change away from the Republic form of government; change away from the U.S.Constitution.
Change that indentures our future drastically.
Change that appears more like Zimbabwe every day.
We should be alarmed ... Are WE?
The elders among us know what a great form of government we had. The youth have been taught something else now for a few generations. We let down our guard and grew complacent and derelict in our duties as parents, citizens, patriots,...
Living like there is no tomorrow where the the debts will come due.
Who would have guessed that in three short weeks Obama would have us spending, $3,ooo,ooo,ooo,ooo.additional monies on top of the $3,ooo,ooo,ooo,ooo,ooo, plus the monies advanced via the FED, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, world Bank, etc. that occurred during the last year. It is mind boggling. I expected it to be bad ... IT IS MUCH WORSE THAN I IMAGINED.
Totally insane and irresponsible choices/decisions, that did not work. Neither will these made recently and ongoing ones. My Opinion. Amazingly about 51% polled agree with all the actions taken.
God help us for we are about to fall.
Unfortunately, our country willingly jumped off the cliff, not fell. My/our only REAL HOPE and CHANGE is in Jesus Christ, which many will soon come to realize.
On another note, America is not mentioned in the end times of the Holy Bible. New Testament Gospels
or Revelations, etc. We may well be in for a huge fall. MO
God does allow His people to suffer/tribulations as a consequence to their disobedience.
Pray for mercy on America. Homosexuality and Abortion are abominations, etc., among others.
I'm of the same opinion. I've been praying for His mercy on this nation for the last few years. I've realized for the nations to come against Israel as prophesied, America as Israel's only ally, will have to be taken out of the way or converted to support the nations against Israel. An economic collapse will accomplish the former, being led by Godless politicians as we currently are can accomplish the latter. It's just not clear yet which way it will be. It seems to be a horeserace between the two. Perhaps both. It's transitioning quickly as we watch.
"A strange thing, this Obama worship (cf. the New York Times op-ed on Sunday where the columnist imagined having sexual relations with Obama)"
It shows how neurotic, schizoid, and empty the lives of some liberals are.
Have you read this one?
He hits a lot of important points.
John Caldera also took on the new bill, see if you can catch the first couple hours of last nights program on replay at:
Thanks for the ping, granny.
(Still, I do not understand why Obama didnt Morris-like triangulate against the Congressional Democrats and the Republicanssomething like x gave you this mess, and y wants the same old, same old pork rather than my z-way out.)
Are you that naive, VDH?