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Obama Helps Harden Disdain Americans Feel For Government

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 ceilingeven 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.

Obama Supporter Laments Democrats’ Detachment from Ordinary Americans, Lambasting Them For Demonizing Grassroots Opposition to Obamacare

Whenever I read Camille Paglia’s criticism of the actions in the White House of the man she backed on the campaign trail, I am stunned that this wise woman still considers herself an Obama-supporter.  From her passion for the President, I can only derive that the Barack Obama has such a powerful presence, causing even very intelligent people to be swayed by his image and rhetoric.

In her latest piece, penned before the President’s speech last night, she continued to lash out against his team for bungled his various initiatives and demonizing their adversaries.  She even anticipated (and questioned) her man’s claim that his health care overhaul wouldn’t add a dime to the deficit:

Who is naive enough to believe that Obama’s plan would be deficit-neutral? Or that major cuts could be achieved without drastic rationing?

She reserved her harshest criticism for Democrats who malign critics of the President’s plan and misrepresent the grassroots opposition emerging to his statist schemes:

By foolishly trying to reduce all objections to healthcare reform to the malevolence of obstructionist Republicans, Democrats have managed to destroy the national coalition that elected Obama and that is unlikely to be repaired. If Obama fails to win reelection, let the blame be first laid at the door of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who at a pivotal point threw gasoline on the flames by comparing angry American citizens to Nazis. It is theoretically possible that Obama could turn the situation around with a strong speech on healthcare to Congress this week, but after a summer of grisly hemorrhaging, too much damage has been done. . . .

Why did it take so long for Democrats to realize that this year’s tea party and town hall uprisings were a genuine barometer of widespread public discontent and not simply a staged scenario by kooks and conspirators?

She goes on to question the Democratic Party’s detachment “from ordinary Americans.”  And there’s more as she praises talk radio and the web for their “truly transformative political energy.”  As with anything from this diva, just read the whole thing.

And wonder yet at the Democrats’ disposition to demonize rather than engage their adversaries.

Ignoring Democrat’s Opposition to Gay Rights while Painting his Republican Opponent as “Raging Homophobe”

If there is just a hint, even if two decades old, that a Republican official or prominent conservative may not hold perfectly politically correct views of gay people, expect the MSM to feature it prominently, but if a Democrat does not toe the gay rights’ line, expect the MSM (and even the gay media and gay advocacy groups) to ignore or downplay the issue.

The Washington Post has done in several articles about Virginia GOP gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell, with many on its front page. The paper reported repeatedly on the Republican’s “1989 graduate school thesis in which the 14-year lawmaker and former attorney general had criticized working mothers and homosexuals and urged the promotion of traditional values through government.

While McDonnell’s attitudes toward gay people have shifted over the past twenty years, Michael Barone believes the Post‘s article on a hearing he chaired, when in the Viginia legislature, on the reappointment of a lesbian judge accused of sexual harassment had the “obvious message. . .: this candidate thinks it’s all right to penalize people, in some unspecified way, for homosexual conduct.

Meanwhile the conservative Weekly Standard has unearthed a statement from McDonnell’s Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds “of a more recent vintage” than McDonnell’s thesis.  In a 1999 campaign ad, that Democrat said he didn’t believe in “special rights for gays.”  (This wasn’t the only time Deeds (or his spokesman) said he opposed gay rights.) I doubt that will get the same coverage in the Post as have McDonnell’s comments made a decade earlier. (more…)

John Adams Explains Reaction to his Current Successor*:
“Resentment coinciding with Principle is a very powerful motive”

While driving across the desert and mountain Southwest to visit friends and family, I listened to the better part of David Hackett Fischer’s Washington’s Crossing.  In the penultimate chapter, that Pulitzer Prize-winning historian quotes John Adams on the uprisings of the people of New Jersey after Washington’s victories at Trenton and Princeton:

[They] begin to raise their Spirits exceedingly, and to be firmer than ever.  They are actuated by Resentment now, and Resentment coinciding with Principle is a very powerful motive.

We resent how President Obama is attempting to increase the size and scope of government while promising to hold the line on spending.  The principle, now as then, is freedom–liberty.

* (more…)

The President’s Disingenuous Rhetoric:
Claiming to Be Above the Fray While Joining it with Great Abandon

I had not intended to watch the President’s speech last night because I knew I would want to blog on it as I did–and there are other things I’d rather address in these pages.  When I flipped on FoxNews, I had hoped to hear Charles Krauthammer offering his opinion on the address and then turn to other pressing matters related to my recent return from my travels.

But, the speech started late, leaving Dennis Miller to quip (on The O’Reilly Factor), “When a 6:00 speech starts at 6:15, that says it all” [about the government running things].  So, I started watching the speech in medias res.  And as I feared, after watching the second half and reading the entire text, I have many, many thoughts about the speech.  And perhaps the only good ones are an appreciation for the rhetorical crescendo with which the President concluded his remarks, trying to put his plans in a larger context.

While his language was stirring, his remarks were disingenuous.  After staffing his White House with partisan political operatives, Barack Obama can no longer even pretend to claim to float above the bitter partisan battles which divide our nation.  He may have offered conciliatory rhetoric in his speech, but he also offered gratuitous attacks.  And he has allied himself with some of the most divisive figures and organizations in our nation’s capitol.

Not just that, he refused to fault their mean-spirited rhetoric in his speech.  While it was his fellow partisans, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who called their adversaries “un-American,” he took issue only with opponents of a government measure (presumably he means those who opposed the statist aspects of his program) who used the term:

And they knew that when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom, and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter — that at that point we don’t merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges.

It was this type of rhetoric, albeit aspiring to appeal to the best in us, which, even more than his dishonesty and claims that his plan won’t add “one dime to the deficit, now or in the future” which defined what I have called “the hypocrisy at the heart of the Obama Administration.” (more…)

Of Contradictions & Costs:
My “Nutshell” Reaction to the President’s Health Care Speech

This speech helps cement Barack Obama’s image as one of the most divisive figures in American politics.  Instead of addressing the arguments offered by his political adversaries, he attacked imaginary critics as if in a campaign stump speech.  At the same time, he pretended to extend an olive branch to Republicans and other opponents of his plan.

The essential contradiction of the speech was its excess of attack amidst please for conciliation.  There was no need for him to repeat the left-wing canard about “the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans that Congress passed at the beginning of the previous administration.”  Such language, dishonest and more appropriate to the campaign trail than in a presidential address, only serves to divide.  (Reading the speech, I found more such examples of such divisive campaign rhetoric.)

It wasn’t just in dredging up old political battles where he was divisive.  He also demonized his opponents by using his well-worn tactic of creating straw men, suggested that those who opposed him were the adversaries of his imagination. “Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost.” Many (if not most) of his adversaries don’t want to kill reform, they just favor different (and less costly) reforms.

Instead of such harsh rhetoric, he would hae done better to say something like, “I understand people’s concerns” and explained his plan would better serve our common goals than those Republicans have put forward (and waved frequently during the address).

And then there was the question of cost.  To claim that a program that “will cost around $900 billion over 10 years. . . will not add to our deficit” is simply ludicrous.  He may have gotten away with such claims before he took office, but with his own officials acknowledging recently last month that his policies will add an addition $2 trillion to the deficit (despite previous claims that they wouldn’t be so costly), only the most committed partisans will believe him now.