If I could ask our young President a few questions, they would run something like this: “At what point would you say, ‘There. We finally have as much government as we need. To give it any more power would be tyrannous and would diminish our God-given rights’? I sense that you have never asked yourself this question. But if not, on what principle do you base your belief that government should, for instance, forbid all discrimination against transgendered Americans? And by the way, should the government also ban discrimination against pedophiliac and necrophilic Americans?”
Of course a politician isn’t usually the best guy to go to in search of principle. But Obama likes to pose as a politician of principle—a pol above politics—so he invites it.
I might also ask him, “Has your ideal government ever existed in the real world? Or has any philosopher—Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas, Hobbes, Locke, Marx—ever described it? Is your ideal even possible, or is it merely a daydream?”
As our first black president, Obama has also become a hero to millions of black Americans. Don’t they know that in order to get his party’s nomination he had to support legal abortion?
Have they reflected on this? In the abstract, abortion is said to be a woman’s free choice. But in the real world abortion often means white doctors killing the babies of young black women, poor and discarded, who have very little choice. So the net result of Obama’s presidency may be a reduction of the black American population. And as a friend of mine pointed out to me the other day, the recent huge influx of immigrants, legal and illegal, is one result of the need for labor after the tens of millions of abortions of the last few decades. We have destroyed our natural work force and replaced it with foreigners.
Remember the “population explosion” of which the experts used to warn us? Well, it’s coming to pass—everywhere but in the white countries, which are rapidly ceasing to be white.
Like many progressive-minded people, Obama is afflicted by an ignorant contempt for the past and an equally vacuous faith in the future. He will learn how pitiless reality is to our most seductive daydreams. Right now he could use a good dose of the realism of Louisiana politics. When an aide to Gov. Earl Long told him, “I’m with you when you’re right, Governor, but not when you’re wrong,” Long roared back, “You stupid sonofabitch, I don’t need you when I’m right!” (Which reminds me of another great line, this one from Sir Boyle Roche: “Half the lies our enemies tell about us aren’t true!”)
But I will say one thing in Obama’s favor: At least he isn’t George W. Bush. I’ll have to keep reminding myself of that wanly cheering fact for the next two and a half years.
The best way to get rid of corruption in high places, it has been said, is to get rid of high places. That is the American political genius in a nutshell. But the liberal instinct always demands that power be concentrated and centralized.
The most obvious lesson of socialism still hasn’t sunk in. Man may be a rational animal, but he’s a mighty slow learner.
At any rate, the Obama craze seems to have ended already. Pity. Michelle Obama, whatever her faults, remains the only First Lady to have tackled the problem of childhood obesity. And she has never been reported or even rumored to have hurled lamps or ashtrays at her husband. Yet even this President’s most Bolshevik partisans no longer seem eager to carve his face into Mount Rushmore.
The American presidency has swollen to such gigantic proportions that no man can meet its demands; hence the need for innumerable appointments and bureaucracies. And who knows when all human calculations may suddenly be upset by, say, a volcano in Iceland. Could anyone on earth have foreseen that? (I’ll be the first to admit that it caught me flatfooted. My horoscope that day didn’t even hint at it.)
So we should beware of blaming Obama for all the world’s woes. He may aggravate them, but he doesn’t cause them. Still, as they say, if you claim credit for the sunshine, you can expect to be blamed for the rain.
In the sort of hackneyed phrase that wows his admirers, Obama recently opined that “we can disagree without being disagreeable.” What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.
This article first appeared in the June 2010 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.