Saturday, September 5, 2009

Messiahs Aren't Taught Self-Restraint

Dear Leader Barack Obama will be shoving his mug in front of America's school kids the day after Labor Day, and then in front of Congress and the rest of us on Wednesday night. On Tuesday, he'll ask the kids to help him build the Obama Nation, and on Wednesday we'll be treated to the miracle of universal health care with no restrictions and no costs. I haven't been this excited since my bank told me my 401k's were worthless--like Obama rhetoric.

If there's one thing that Obama is filled with, it's self-confidence. Well, he's full of something else, too, but that doesn't relate directly to this discussion. Nobody without several extra rations of self-confidence could go from obscure two-bit Chicago politician to President of the United States in such a short period of time. But there is something to be said for rising a bit slower, making a few stops along the way to learn a few things, and maybe even stumbling a few times. Such a meteoric rise can turn self-confidence into arrogance and intransigence, along with a feeling of infallibility. Those are traits best left for Greek gods and dictators. It can quickly lead to a fall, and cause a great deal of harm along the way.

In a republic, it can also lead to a disdain for the underpinnings of the republican form of government, and lead to a "whatever it takes" attitude toward maintaining the leader's preeminent position. One of the earliest indicators of this in the Obama administration was his choice of Rahm Emmanuel as his Chief of Staff. Emmanuel very openly told Obama: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." Cynical and opportunistic, it played right into Obama's mindset of "making a fundamental change in America." Using a serious recession as the crisis to be exploited, Obama parleyed it into his foot-through-the door to proclaim the entire nation to be in crisis on finance, health care, the environment, and racial relations.

Any president who didn't think he was the best man for the job would probably not be there in the first place, and if he got there by some fluke, wouldn't be good at the job anyway. But it has become increasingly clear that Obama believes a great deal more than that about himself. He has come to believe his own propaganda. And it means that the people he is sworn to protect are irrelevant to his goals.

So Obama began making his first, ongoing mistake about America. He believes it needs to be fundamentally changed. Most Americans like their country enough to want to preserve it and improve it by reasonable and traditional means. To Obama and his crew, the word "tradition" means "outmoded." So rather than listen to the people, he firmly plants his feet and proceeds to do whatever he can--not to convince, but to offer the option of "convert or be destroyed." He cannot conceive that any ideas but his own can have any validity. This means no compromise, no give-and-take, no discussion, just "listen here" (as he is wont to say), here's what you need and here's how I'm going to give it to you." The American people saw the moderate, bipartisan image that he tried successfully to promote during the election, and chose him as the man to stabilize the economy. They didn't elect him to turn our 220 year old constitutional republic into rule by the elite and government control of everything in their lives.

Instead of seeing quickly-growing suspicions about his plans as a warning to slow down and moderate his agenda, Obama saw it as a challenge to his "fundamental change," to be attacked, ridiculed, and overcome by exploiting the economic crisis and moving even faster. His poll numbers drop each time he renews his call for government control and radical change in society. That mistake could cost him his agenda and his presidency. It's a rookie mistake, and a sin of pampered youth. Age doesn't impart wisdom automatically, but youth cannot gain experience any faster than the years attained. And experience is an ingredient of wisdom which Obama, with zero prior executive experience, lacks almost entirely.

He could have learned a lot from the lessons of Ronald Reagan, if he had stopped to consider that his book-learnin' at Columbia and Harvard weren't the only places to get an education. Reagan was no slouch in believing in himself. But he had learned early on that even people who were with him would not always agree with him, and that his opponents were not enemies trying to interfere with his perfect agenda. After two terms as governor of the nearly unmanageable State of California, Reagan had learned a great deal about governing successfully.

After winning a decisive victory over Jimmy Carter, and bringing in the first Republican Senate in nearly thirty years, Reagan was in a position roughly comparable to Obama's, although Reagan's party did not control the House. And Reagan did indeed have an agenda. But unlike Obama, Reagan recognized that much of his agenda had to wait because, like Obama, he came into office during a very tough economic period. Reagan had the good sense to realize that his strong victory didn't guarantee similar victories on legislation, and he had to fix the economy before he could do anything else that he wanted to do. In order to restore the economy and defeat the Carter "stagflation," Reagan obtained immense tax cuts and restoration of the dollar. But to do so, he had to give up temporarily some of his other important issues, such as killing off the welfare state and destroying the entitlement monster. That's the difference between self-confidence and childish arrogance.

It took two future administrations to effect the final cutbacks in the welfare state and reduction in entitlements, but none of that could have been accomplished if Reagan had not first gotten the economy back into high gear. He deferred his grand plan in order to lay the foundation for that plan to build on later. The American people had said "fix the economy" and Reagan did so, at the expense of some ideas he held dear. Obama simply can't even grasp the concept of deferring his grand plans in order to do the first thing which needs to be done--fix the economy. And daily, he repeats his mistake.

The other big Obama mistake is less obvious, more subtle, and yet perhaps even more fundamental. Obama, for all his alleged smarts and education, has no sense of history nor any understanding of how a constitutional republic develops. And even if he does, he doesn't care. Again, in keeping with that childish personality flaw, Obama wants it all, and he wants it now. Utilizing Emmanuel's playbook of exploiting a crisis, Obama tosses aside James Madison's "auxiliary precautions" which constitutional historian Martin Diamond describes as "the self-restraining, temporary majority-restraining principles of the Constitution, such as the separation of powers, bicameralism, limited government, and all the internal checks which go with those restraints."

Americans who may not be students of history or the Constitition still have an innate sense of putting on the brakes and moving with caution. They have lived in a constitutional republic all their lives, and they're instinctively suspicious of nebulous big ideas powered by an engine with no governor and no brakes. Unlike Obama ideologues (or Marxist ideologues, or socialist ideologues, or internationalist ideologues, etc.), they know that man and society are works-in-progress with both virtues and vices which propel their actions. They see government as a way to get things done, but not at the expense of liberty, choice and the abandonment of all caution. When things are not being done right, they want to see change, but they know better than to throw the baby out with the bathwater. They are by nature, moderate to conservative.

Ideologues like Obama and his gang of half-fast intellectuals see society as immediately perfectable, infinitely malleable, and capable of making every decision entirely rationally and intellectually rather than ever considering self-interest. Every dictator and totalitarian has believed exactly the same thing. Obama believed that by using Emmanuel's cynical ploy of exploiting the economic crisis, he could slip immense packages of legislation through Congress without debate. And those packages would, as he wishes, fundamentally transform America--from the greatest and wealthiest republic in the world, to a middling Euro-style socialist state with personal liberty and freedom of choice in how to live their daily lives gone forever. "Here comes the unread and unreadable stimulus. Just pass it. Here come the incomprehensible nationalized health care bill. Just pass it. And don't worry about the multi-trillion dollar cost and the burden on our children and grandchildren. Just pass it. We're here to make your lives perfect and the nation brand-new overnight. Just pass it."

James Madison's restraints have stopped the master's progress in its tracks. And Lincoln's wisdom had apparently never been transmitted to Obama: "You can't fool all the people all the time." Obama's plan was to rush this nation-altering legislation through so fast that it would be in place before the American people knew what had happened to them. American tradition and plain common sense have thwarted the rush to destruction. Even with a clear majority in both Houses of Congress, and the ability to use a procedural ploy to pass his nationalized health care package in the Senate, Obama has raised so much ire at his attempt to detour around public input that his own party won't do his bidding. He is such a completely deluded ideologue, and he is so isolated from middle America in his White House of Sycophants, that he is genuinely convinced that the opposition is all a vast plot to thwart his lofty goals.

That wonderful Constitution, and America's determined belief in its right to govern itself without an all-powerful government to tell it what to think and do, will keep this wannabe perfect leader from ever becoming a true dictator. If he gets health care reform at all, it won't even faintly resemble his nationalized government plan, and the public will be watching to see if he tries to get that plan incrementally in future legislation. He has lost the trust of the majority of Americans, and whether he likes it or not, the Constitution and the people will prevent him from tossing out 220 years of history for a little promised economic or health security at the expense of their basic liberty.

As I did in yesterday's post, I again advise caution. Obama is a doctrinaire leftist, but he's not a complete fool. He wants his agenda, and he will not give up trying to get it. The current mood of the people must not lull us into a sense of complacency while the spider in the White House spins his web in a less visible way. His mistakes so far and his misjudgment of the American people may be his downfall, but only if we don't take a few winning battles and turn them into a belief that we've won the war. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. If we stop watching and stop fighting, the dear leader could still defeat us.

17 comments:

StanH said...

My simple response to your piece is, …yeah! True America is now awake and it’s about damn time, and as you say we must remain vigilant there is real peril from all of Washington right and left. Did everyone see Olympia Snowe (Rino), she’s talking “triggers” that’s senate talk for incrementallism. We have to keep our eye on Barry, but lets not forget the Maverick and the rest of the Rino’s, they are quite capable of screwing the Republic, in the name of comity …yuk! We must keep up the pressure, attend Tea Parties, contact your Reps., or keep writing great articles like the ones at Commentarama, stay in the game.

Lawhawk did you see your old colleague David Horowitz on Glenn Beck yesterday. Very revealing about what we are in for from this administration. He gave specific counters to Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” and how Sarah Palin stood her ground and the left melts away. How her little entry in Facebook about “Death Panels,” right or wrong, changed the dynamic of the discussion. The bottom line, the left cannot withstand scrutiny, do you concur?

Writer X said...

The more the President talks, the less people trust him. His constant need to bloviate will be his downfall. I'm looking forward to his speeches next week.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I have always had the belief that Obama never expected to become President. I think he was just testing the waters, either for financial purposes or to get his name out there for the future. It must have shocked him when Edwards and Clinton fell apart.

I think, as a result, he's always been unprepared -- which shows with him being such a horrible politician. But at the same time, I think it also explains his arrogance -- he's like the child who doesn't try but is then praised for being great. That leads to arrogance and an inability to grow. And that's Obama.

Mike Kriskey said...

[H]e...proceeds to do whatever he can--not to convince, but to offer the option of "convert or be destroyed."

I think that's an interesting comment. I'm not a member of the birther community, but it is a fact that he spent some of his formative years in a Muslim country.

He doesn't believe that those opposed to him should be allowed to speak. "We don't need to hear from them," "They should stay out of the way," etc. (Not to mention the tip-line for ratting out your neighbors.)

This does remind me of Islamic countries where you are free to be a Christian (in theory, and as long as you pay the tax) as long as nobody talks about it, congregates in a church, or---Allah forbid!---tries to convert anybody.

MegaTroll said...

Great article Lawhawk, as always. I agree with Mike. He acts like he was raised under an authoritarian regime.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: We really have to pay attention to those "triggers" and "increments." That's because it's unlikely that any earth-shaking health care reform can take place in one shot. So "increments" might be necessary even under Commentarama Care. So it's not just the "increments," it's what those increments lead to.

Yes, I saw David on Beck. It's amazing how old he got while I retain my youthful good looks. LOL He remembers, as do I, that Alinsky's plan includes feints and misdirection when caught with your hand in the cookie jar. Turn defeat into victory by making your opponent look like the unfair aggressor. Alinsky, like Obama, was no fool, just a radical.

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: He's counting on the Stalin-Mao-Castro trick of perpetuating crisis so that the constant appearance of the dear leader's face becomes the sole source of comfort in a day filled with troubles. But Americans have a long history of deriding the cult of personality, and pictures of the Obamassiah are quickly becoming impromptu dartboards. Right now, for many of us, the only effect his constant public strutting is having is an increase in the sales of Pepto Bismol.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: You had that thought, too? Ditto for Michelle. I remember my ex-wife having a home-made needlepoint in a frame that said "Behind every great man stands a woman--who couldn't be more surprised."

Mike: Obama was brought up in his formative years by several family members and mentors who held that type of view. Muslims use it to justify domination of Christians and Jews, but communists use a secular form of the same thought to justify domination of everyone. And black liberation theology uses it as an excuse for punishing the white race. It would have been a miracle if Obama had turned out any other way. It might even explain his pathological narcissism.

CrispyRice said...

Great article, LawHawk. And good reminders to remain vigilant.

I agree with Andrew about O never having expected to get elected.

Interesting take, Mike and MegaTroll. I hadn't considered that about him being raised under authoritarian regimes, but it makes sense.

LawHawkSF said...

CrispyRice: I can sort of see Obama maintaining his unflappable public front after years of training,yet in private saying "did we just win?" I've seen this once before, back when I was an activist Democrat. In 1972, the unelected alternate delegates to the convention and the still-infant black caucus demanded that the highly-successful National Chairman Lawrence O'Brien either step down or share power with the "civil rights" faction. Candidate McGovern immediately granted their wish. Unlike Obama, however, they couldn't conceal their shock. One of their spokesman was asked about it later, and his reply was "We were just trying to make a point and get some attention. We never thought for a minute he'd actually do it." From that day on, I referred to McGovern as "Jellyfish George." And I voted for the Republican candidate for the first time in my life.

AndrewPrice said...

Wait a minute. Lawhawk, you voted for Nixon? Or did I read that wrong?

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: You did not read that wrong. If you had known McGovern the way the rest of us did, you could understand it. I spent many hours in church doing penance for it, but since I was a radical, not a fool, I voted for the guy who would rob me blind, but at least not get me killed. George McGovern couldn't make a decision if his miserable life had depended on it. Now you know why I have such contempt for Obama. But at least I won't have to vote for Nixon again.

HamiltonsGhost said...

If Obama keeps stumbling and bumbling and threatening and stonewalling, he may defeat himself. But we still can't sit back and wait for it. We need conservative leaders who will not wait for this fool to start figuring out what he's doing wrong and change course.

LawHawkSF said...

HamiltonsGhost: I know what you mean. Obama's a laugh a minute. I'm starting to hear that drone of his in my sleep. I can't remember the last time I had this visceral a dislike for the image and voice of a president of the United States.

Mike Kriskey said...

LawHawk, I'd like to respectfully suggest I may know the reason why you cannot stand to hear Obama's voice.

LawHawkSF said...

MikeKriskey: Thanks, and well done. But did you have to include a picture? Back to the medicine chest for more Pepto.

Brad the Builder said...

Great article, very interesting stuff

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