Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The President of Me

Have you ever had that feeling sweep over you that you have been in the very same place before? That out-of-body, deja vu realization that something was happening that had happened before?

While reading Amity Shlaes' history of the FDR Administration, The Forgotten Man I have experienced instance upon instance of that very sensation. I find myself checking the publication date again and again: 2007. She published the book in 2007, wrote it in the years leading up to 2007. While Bush was still president. Before Obama was the certain Democrat candidate, the president. There is no way she could have molded the narrative to fit our current political situation. No way she could have known just how eerily similar Obama's policies would be to FDR's. She is brilliant but she is not psychic.

The latest wave of deja vu came when I read the following few paragraphs.

  • "As Roosevelt in 1936 would freely acknowledge to another adviser, the election was about a single issue--Roosevelt (249). It seems that everything political over the past 20 or so months has been about one thing: Obama. There is no other way to view the bulldozing through of ObamaCare. He, in fact, said so himself. The Founders anticipated leaders like Obama and FDR. Madison wrote in Federalist 10: "Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm." And, thus they provided an intricate set of checks and balances to mitigate tyranny. Hamilton summarized, perhaps, the most effective check against tyranny in Federalist 22: "The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of the THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow immediately from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority." In other words, it is about us, not the Me occupying the White House.
  • The president (FDR) relished squeezing cash for the poor out of the well-to-do...The country was splitting into those who were Roosevelt favorites and everyone else. The division started at the top" (248-249). So obviously similar to what we are experiencing today and anticipated by the Founders. They understood that the very nature of man ensured society would have factions. The owners, the renters, the employer the employee, the religious, the atheist. Society (government) should not inflame the factions, increase the chasm of separation as FDR did and as Obama is doing, rather government should seek as Madison proposes in Federalist 10 "to control its effects. "Justice," he wrote ought to hold the balance between them."
  • "He (FDR) illuminated objectives--even fantastically unrealizable objectives. These excited and inspired. When one...faded, he provided another." The fact that he shifted did not have to matter (248). And this, too, is familiar. Obama talks of jobs, then health care, then castigates the rich, then castigates the Republicans, then talks of the need for increased spending to stimulate, then lectures on religious freedom, back to health care, jobs again, more stimulus. Each speech overflowing with the pronoun "I." Ever focused on himself, his legacy, his agenda. One new idea after another. Spinning. Spinning.
Out of control.

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