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.
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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 !
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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!
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