Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Obama's "Instrument of Unimagined Power"

I am unconsolably dismayed by the latest Rasmussen polling showing the President's approval rating improving in recent weeks. The talking heads attribute the positive trend to Obama's most recent promotion of more centrist ideals, and I suspect they are right. Whether the change in public sentiment sticks or not remains to be seen.

Bill Clinton certainly lurched successfully right after the mid-term elections during his first term. He heard the people and he adjusted his agenda. But Obama's shift feels more like FDR's approach after his re-election: a shift in rhetoric rather than behavior. A commitment to Keynesian ideology. A masterful manipulation of words and sentiment to change the subject. A shameless use of failed policies to justify the implementation of more-of- the-same.

Amity Shlaes' essential history of the Great Depression, The Forgotten Man is once again an invaluable source:
  • During FDR's second inaugural address he claimed economic victory where there was none: "Our progress out of the Depression is obvious." Yet unemployment was above 15% and subsequent data would show that joblessness had risen since the election. FDR's claims were baseless (298). We have heard nothing less from President Obama. The economy is on the mend. We are beyond the worst of it. Yet unemployment continues to rise. Housing languishes and government debts grows exponentially.
  • FDR continued to attack the wealthy and the economics of a free market: "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics." (298) Again, we hear the same disdainful vitriol targeted at the private sector and the "rich" by the Obama Administration. The tax payers, the job creators, the philanthropists. Evil. Evil. Evil.
  • FDR was the master of double-speak. After claiming the country was moving out of the Depression, Roosevelt said this: "I see one third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished." This gave him, he believed, the moral authority to establish a "new order of things." (298) We see the same from every corner of the Obama Administration. The president, after passing an unprecedented number of regulations in the first two years of his presidency is now suddenly going to attack unnecessary regulations.
  • Last week he wrote in a Wall Street Journal editorial: "For instance, the FDA has long considered saccharin, the artificial sweetener, safe for people to consume. Yet for years, the EPA made companies treat saccharin like other dangerous chemicals. Well, if it goes in your coffee, it is not hazardous waste. (emphasis mine) The EPA wisely eliminated this rule last month."
That ought to do it. Let's lighten up on saccharin. Never mind that the EPA is now regulating CO2. If we exhale it, it is not hazardous waste. But I digress.

  • FDR believed in the moral superiority of government over individual liberty: "We are beginning to wipe out the line that divides the practical from the ideal; and in so doing we are fashioning an instrument of unimagined power for the establishment of a morally better world." (299)

"An instrument of unimagined power." Can you say Obamacare?

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