As I organized my thoughts about the President’s speech on health care last night, what struck me more than anything was the utter disingenuousness of the address. Even as he engaged in harsh attacks on his critics, he spoke in conciliatory terms about listening to Republican ideas and working in a bipartisan manner.
But, his biggest whopper was his contention that the debate over health care which has erupted in congressional town halls and spilled over into the streets has increased distrust in government:
But what we’ve also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have towards their own government. Instead of honest debate, we’ve seen scare tactics.
As I put it earlier today in a passage which, I believe, deserved greater prominence that at the end of a long post below the jump:
But, the president can’t act as if only those criticizing his plan are contributing to the disdain Americans have toward government. He — and his allies– have contributed to the growing anti-government sentiment far more than any of his political adversaries. They didn’t create that disdain. They tapped into it.
His critics didn’t create the disdain for government. Obama and the Democrats didn’t either, but the President, like his predecessor, contributed to it by his spendthrift policies, vastly increasing the size and scope of the federal government. And the incumbent has made a far greater contribution than the man he succeeded, largely in the contradiction (manifest even in his speech last night) between his words and his deeds.
He decried the spendthrift policies of the Bush Administration,telling us in the campaign that we were “living beyond our means” and having voting in 2006 against raising the debt limit, contending that the need for the increase was “a sign of leadership failure.“ But, as President, he increased federal spending at a far more rapid clip than his predecessor; he recently asked Congress to raise the “debt ceiling” even further.
No, the Tea Parties –and other protests against the President’s spendthrift policies—did not harden the disdain Americans feel for their government. They merely tapped into what the President called last night Americans’ “fierce defense of freedom and our healthy skepticism of government.” The President might have succeeded in softening our disdain had he not proposed policies which spend liberally from the treasury and and interfere inordinately in our lives.