Skip to comments.Victor Davis Hanson: President Obama’s First 70 Days. It really does all make sense
Posted on 04/01/2009 5:54:43 AM PDT by Tolik
In just the first 70 days of the new administration, a number of Obama supporters have expressed some dismay at their new president. Some find his ethically challenged appointments at odds with his soaring moral rhetoric.
Others lament his apparent inability to stir up supporters in impromptu speeches, at least in the manner he did with set oratory on the campaign trail. And they worry about his occasionally insensitive remark.
Many cannot quite figure out why, after lambasting George W. Bush for running a $500-billion deficit, Obama has outlined eight years of budgetary red ink that would nearly match the debt run up by all previous U.S. presidents combined.
But such disappointments should be tempered. Not only is Obama simply drawing on his past 30 years of education, writing, work, and associations, but he is also properly reflecting the worldview of many of those working for him.
What, then, is the mindset behind Americas new approach to domestic policy and foreign affairs?
If you believed that average Americans are not well educated, do not think in sophisticated and rational ways, and cannot be trusted to make good decisions, whether for themselves or for their nation, then you would expand the power of better-educated and wiser government overseers. This would ensure that, instead of millions of private agendas that lead individuals improperly, and at times recklessly, to acquire and consume, we would have benevolent and far-sighted powers directing our lives in ways that benefit the environment, the economy and themselves.
If you believed that highly educated and sometimes distracted liberals occasionally slip on rather mundane questions of taxes, lobbying, and conflict of interest but not at all in the felonious, premeditated manner of the corporate hierarchy then it would be necessary to overlook such minor lapses for the greater good of marshalling talented and well-disposed experts into progressive government.
If you believed that socially minded liberals are tolerant and extraordinarily empathetic, then their rather impolite speech is not at all offensive. Constant disparagement of the previous administration, and jokes about fellow Americans ranging from the physically or mentally impaired, to Nancy Reagan and her séances, to the stereotyped religion and culture of a clinging middle America, to the purported prejudices of a typical white person are not insensitive, let alone callous. No, the evocation of these occasional infelicities reflects the tally-sheet of nitpicking right-wing agitators, keen to bring down a hard-working progressive sacrificing for the people.
If you believed that compensation in this country was intrinsically unfair that income is arbitrary and quite capriciously rewards some while unjustly shortchanging others then you would wish to hike income and payroll taxes on high earners to reach confiscatory levels so that a fairer government could correct the errors of an unfair market for the benefit of the many. Higher taxes on some, then, are not just a means of raising revenue, but an important redistributive tool of government to spread the wealth around.
If you believed that government does too little for the average citizen that at present, with its unnecessary wars and perks for the wealthy, it cannot ensure everyone lifelong entitlement then you would wish to double, even triple present federal expenditures. The key would be to borrow enough now to provide relief to the people first, and only afterwards to worry how to pay off the resulting deficit of $1.7 trillion. Once people are accustomed to the services they deserve, they will ensure that their representatives find the right revenue mechanisms to guarantee that such necessary benefactions continue. If you build programs to help the people now, the necessary taxing and borrowing for a $3.6-trillion budget will come.
If you had little idea of how businesses are created, how they are run, and why they sometimes go broke, and if you thought that the truly talented and sophisticated never go into business but instead gravitate to the Ivy League to be trained as lawyers, professors, writers, and organizers, then you would assume that our present problems are largely the fault of the former, and can best be addressed by putting as many of the latter in your government as possible.
If you believed that Main Street and Wall Street have little, if anything, to do with why publishers can afford to extend million-dollar book advances, or why the Ivy League has millions in scholarships for students, or why foundations, universities, and governments can afford to hire so many advisors, consultants, administrators, lawyers, and professors, then you would never really connect the conditions that promote good business with those that allow intellectuals, technocrats, and bureaucrats to thrive.
If you believed that those with capital have had an unfortunate head start, or have done dubious things that others less fortunate would not, then you would seek ways to forgive loans, to allow the indebted to start over with a clean slate, to ensure new borrowing with record-low interest rates, to lower or eliminate taxes on most people, and to expand in turn the financial help from the government and not worry that stocks are down, dividends are nearly nonexistent, interest on deposits is at a record low, equity in real property has often disappeared, and accumulated capital is itself often diminished or insecure.
If you believed that the story of the United States is more a narrative of gender, race, and class oppression than of brave souls promoting liberty and trying to reify the promise of the Constitution, then you would have empathy for fellow victims of such endemic Western oppression. The cries from the heart we are hearing from Bolivia and Cuba, from Iran, Syria, and the West Bank, are not anti-American, much less illiberal: they are efforts to articulate the oppression that the people in those places have suffered at the hands of others.
While in the short run the once-victimized may need to be deterred in their anger from harming the United States or themselves, in the long run their legitimate grievances must be addressed through a variety of concessions, apologies, or dialogues in order to promote the general peace. That a Hugo Chávez calls Americans gringos, or Brazils President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva blames white, blue-eyed bankers for the financial mess, or that state-run Palestinian papers refer to Jews as pigs and apes, or that the Iranian president serially claims the Holocaust is a concoction of Zionists, is all an unfortunate rhetoric of the oppressed (in the same way Reverend Wright once referred to Italians as garlic noses), brought on by colonization and exploitation, rather than proof that a large portion of the world beyond our shores is run by racist and rather loony people.
If you believed that the traditions and customs of the United States are largely a story of the oppressed overcoming the perniciousness of the privileged, rather than the collective efforts of the many to stop tyranny, then you would talk about past oppression, past victimization, and past unfairness far more than you would evoke Shiloh, the Meuse-Argonne, or Iwo Jima.
If you believed that the United States is hardly exceptional, but merely one nation not all that different from others, then you would have confidence in the aggregate wisdom of the United Nations, and the cultural and economic paradigms provided by the nations of the European Union.
If you believed that wars, crises, and international tensions are brought about by miscommunications, misunderstandings, and Western insensitivity, rather than by despots trying to advance illiberal agendas whenever and wherever they sense an opening, then you would blame past administrations for our present ills, with all their bellicose and retrograde talk of preparedness, deterrence, and pre-emption. You would grandly proclaim a new age of harmonious relations, and count on your rhetorical abilities and charisma to persuade past rivals and mischaracterized enemies that, at this rare but opportune moment, there are no real differences between us and thus no reasons for future disputes.
In other words, if you believed as President Obama and many of his advisors do, then you would do what Obama and his advisors are now doing.
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
~~Marcus Tullius Cicero
Monday, March 30, 2009
First-person Socialism [Victor Davis Hanson]
I think our president needs to invest more in the use of the third-person "government," since his speeches more and more center on the narcissistic "I" and "me." Even the car-takeover speech was "I-ed" to death. E.g.
My Auto Task Force
And so today, I am announcing that my administration will...
In this context, my administration will offer General Motors adequate working capital over the next 60 days. During this time, my team will be working closely with GM to produce a better business plan.
I am committed to doing all I can to see if a deal can be struck...
Now, I know that when people even hear the word "bankruptcy" it can be a bit unsettling, so let me explain what I mean. What I am talking about is..
What I am not talking about is a process where a company is broken up, sold off, and no longer exists. And what I am not talking about is having a company stuck in court for years...
It is my hope that the steps I am announcing...
let me say it as plainly as I can ...
I'm directing my team to take several steps.
I want to work with Congress to identify parts of the Recovery Act..
I am designating a new Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers...
And on and on . . .
Very well put. Fundamentally, Obama’s objective is to destroy the US. In fact, he has done so much in these first 70 days that he may already have accomplished his goal. I honestly don’t see how we’re going to be able to undo the evils he has set into motion.
I think the only hope would be in finding that he was ineligible to be president, because then his acts would become invalid and we could start over again. But even so, he has stirred up so much hatred and fear in this country that I think we may be permanently damaged.
Those who are clinging to the idea that this couldn't happen here in America need to wake up because it is happening here in America and no one seems to care.
Most excellent article.
Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:(I just picked this FDR speech, sort of, at random.)
Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.
Not that far from the view of NYTimes house conservative David Brooks either!
Actually, I have nothing against use of *I* instead of the royal *We*. Its just like everything else - it is a matter of context and proportion. To a person who is not under Obama’s charm spell, he comes out as a narcissist.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Bush Did It? [Victor Davis Hanson]
Academic snoots surely are shocked, shocked that our president cannot pronounce Orion, or pulled off a Glaukos/Diomedes one-sided exchange with those cheap, unviewable DVDs, or that Ms. Clinton expresses cultural ignorance of Our Lady of Guadalupe in our neighboring Mexico. Or that our Vice-President does not know when the iconic FDR was president, or when television came into wide use, or even the name of Justice Stevens. Beware! We will soon be hearing "nucular."
Resident Urkle hasn’t a humble bone in his body and his tin-ear allows him to prance and preen without a care.
Moral Clarity BUMP !
This ping list is not author-specific for articles I'd like to share. Some for the perfect moral clarity, some for provocative thoughts; or simply interesting articles I'd hate to miss myself. (I don't have to agree with the author all 100% to feel the need to share an article.)
I will try not to abuse the ping list and not to annoy you too much, but on some days there is more of the good stuff that is worthy of attention.
You are welcome to browse the list of truly exceptional articles I pinged to lately. Updated on March 19, 2009. on my page.
You are welcome in or out, just freepmail me (and note which PING list you are talking about).
Besides this one, I keep 2 separate PING lists for my favorite authors Victor Davis Hanson and Orson Scott Card.
GREAT post, thanks.
Can you believe we used to think Slick Willie was narcissistic? This guy has in two months used more I’s than Slick used in eight years.
Which amounts to NOTHING! The guy is basically stupid, with ZERO experience at anything, except "community organizing", basically practicing campaigning.
The ‘Obama machine’ seduced most of undereducated/uneducated America and also the MSM. But, a lot of us out here kept our pants on.... we're not going for it!
Citation of Friederich Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” should be required for such articles.
I wanna talk about me Wanna talk about I Wanna talk about number one Oh my me my What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see I like talking about you you you you, usually, but occasionally I wanna talk about meeeeee (me,me,me,me-background singers) I wanna talk about me (me,me-background singers)
The Road to Serfdom
by Friedrich A. Hayek
The problem is that even with intellectually honest liberals,
you’re still going to argue past each other because of base assumptions. It’s very hard to change those base assumptions, and all their conclusions are (surprisingly) “logical” extensions of those assumptions.
Read Sowell’s Conflict of Visions.
Victor Davis Hanson: President Obamas First 70 Days. It really does all make sense
NRO ^ | April 1, 2009 | Victor Davis Hanson
“The only thing worse than stupid people making decisions for themselves is having a bureaucrat making decisions for them.
The bureaucrat cannot learn from the mistakes he causes to stupid people.
At least the stupid people can learn from their mistakes because they have to face the consequences.”
- Uncle Miltie’s summary of Friederich Hayek’s information deficit argument against Socialism.
In my discussions with leftist friends I use the words *government bureaucracy* instead of just *government*. For the most people the word *government* does not have a negative baggage (yeah, I know, I know...) but nobody likes *bureaucracy*. It helps clarify some things.
“Obama has outlined eight years of budgetary red ink that would nearly match the debt run up by all previous U.S. presidents combined.”
I’m not sure how much further economically ‘underground’ I can go without my life changing significantly. I did the grocery shopping this morning and I actually put things BACK on the shelf after weighing if I truly NEEDED it, and was willing to pay the additional State taxes that continue to feed the beast that is our current Local/State/Federal Government.
I hope and pray that I’m not the only one who is doing this. By the looks of the market, and another nearly 800,000 jobs LOST on 0bama’s watch in March alone, I’m thinking I’m not.
However, we can’t all stop spending for basics, so please shop locally when you can. Support your local business person...because they are gravely under attack from this Admini*SPIT*ration.
*Steps Off Soapbox* :)
A marked to read later bump
Just an absolutely brilliant column.
That would make a great seminar topic: Sophistry and morality, Obammunism and its ethical challenges.
By my count, the President is already planning to spend $7 trillion this year.
My future husband hits another one outta da park.
I know a number of such people personally. They are quite sincere in these beliefs, which would be one thing, but they also tend to prefer courses of action which ought to work for the right reasons over courses of action that actually do. That's a problem when you're in control of the economy.
The ‘bammy supporters I know are just as
of his malfeasance as they were of his incompetence and corruption prior to his election.
I can’t recommend it highly enough:
Sowell’s “Conflict of Visions”
explains this mindset down to its core - your beliefs about the essential nature of man. All these other conclusions and beliefs stem, logically, from that.
... they also tend to prefer courses of action which ought to work for the right reasons over courses of action that actually do. That's a problem when you're in control of the economy.
Not just in economy.
See what Krauthammer said on the G-20 summit:
This is a test of the proposition that Obama had run on last year, that the source of our difficulties abroad, the source of anti-Americanism, of dissension among our allies and the alleged isolation of the United States was George Bush.
And Obama was not Bush, and he was going to be a new figure, a transcendent, multi-cultural, attractive, young, new American leader who would rally the world.
Well, we have a test. He's going to Europe. He's not even asking the allies for an increase in troops in Afghanistan, which we desperately need, because he's going to get a no.
He wants a stimulus in Europe. He's not even asking because he's not going to get it. The Germans and the French are against it for historical reasons and economic reasons, and the power of personal diplomacy that Obama ran on and pretends he has doesn't exist. It's all about national interests.
And then on the issue of Iran, he is not going to get anything. In fact, he is not even going to get assistance from the Russians, to whom he essentially offered new influence over Eastern Europe in return.
The bottom line is that personal diplomacy is a nice idea. It amounts to nothing. Nations act on their national interests. And he is weak in Europe because we don't have a lot of cards to play in this economic crisis.
...which is why VDH uses the verb "believe". There is no arguing with "beliefs."
See my new tagline.
<< I use the words *government bureaucracy* >>
I like your idea. We can effect change of thinking with control of vocabulary. For example, I note that even Senator Kerry is using the term “taxpayers’ dollars/money”. A few years ago everyone, including republican officials, said “government money.”
This afternoon, I heard bits of Sean Hannity’s show where he was discussing bonuses that were paid to Congressional staffers. We need to follow up on this and share it with our Obama-supporting acquaintances - Especially since the word “bonus” has recently been so demonized.
Are Congressional staffers not civil servants?
Are civil servants entitled to bonuses?
This election was inevitable, it just happens to have been the one in which the freeloaders decided that they really could just take whatever they wanted from the productive members of society.
I don’t really think we’re going to turn into Cambodia, but just become like every other country in the world. Which is only bad if you remember what America was like, or if you really did love liberty, and were willing to assume the responsibilities that came with it.
But that’s all water under the bridge at this point. With Rahm Emmanuel and Acorn running the next census, there is exactly zero chance that what we knew as America will be resurrected as a free and prosperous nation.
We will now be reduced to aspiring the mere crumbs of our fathers. We are indebted beyond our ability to pay. We will submit the glory of our great nation to every tin pot dictator in the UN who has long eyed us with utter jealousy and contempt. We will surrender to the world court and in effect lose our sovereignty.
In 90 short days Rahm Immanual and Obama have plotted and endeavored to undermine the dignity of a once mighty nation. The die has been cast. The corrupt MSM have cast their lot and the American people seem completely incapable of being able to discern the truth and thus willingly accept the poison gruel the corrupt MSM spoon feeds them on a constant basis. Americans no longer ask questions. No longer labor to uncover the truth, they meekly sit in front of their flat screen TVs and believe that someone - mostly the government - owes them their happiness regardless of the cost. No longer do they believe they themselves must work and carve out their lives; no the government owes them an easy life and the Democrats willing feed into that now common belief.
Unless there is some dramatic turn of events I believe we are doomed to a mundane and colorless life where we will always yearn for something else but will now be powerless to achieve. We are being emasculated as we speak.
Obama makes me miss the big idiot. I was just asking a friend last night, “Can you believe we thought we were miserable in the ‘90s?” This guy’s an f’in nightmare.
Of course, the secret to the Clinton years is that we had a Congress that was acting as the loyal opposition and on fire with ideas.
Can’t disagree with any of that.
I wish I could, but I can’t.
If you believe that propagandists, financial oligarchs, socialization of risk socialists, international socialists/collectivists/progressives have foisted the perfect puppet on us with ZERO downside risk...