A president who disdains his country

In Camille Paglia’s exhilarating column at Salon this week, she castigated the Democrats for “foolishly trying to reduce all objections to healthcare reform to the malevolence of obstructionist Republicans.” Such tactics, she said, had severely damaged the Democrats’ and Obama’s political prospects.

It is an understatement to say that Obama did not heed Paglia’s advice. In his speech last night, prior to which everyone was telling him he needed to do something different from what he had been doing, he stuck with his obnoxious, leftist habit of dismissing as sub-rational trash all criticisms from his right:

But what we have also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have toward their own government. Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned.

Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care.

So much for hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles revealing the real contents of Obamacare and showing that Obama’s claims about it were false. So much for the inspiring townhall meetings where congressmen and senators were exposed to the voices of the people who knew what was in this plan and would not accept it. So much for all opposition to turning America into an unfree, bureaucratic state. It’s all “partisan spectacle,” “scare tactics,” “bickering,” “games.” That’s what Obama thinks of America. He despises everything about America that isn’t of the left.

Obama the skilled conciliatory candidate has vanished. All nuance is gone. And really, all plausibility is gone. Like J.R. Dunn at American Thinker, I’m starting to wonder how Obama is going to govern the country for the next three years.

Richard Lowry in his column in today’s New York Post is also put off by Obama’s stonewalling and his attacks on critics:

But not much truth to health talk
September 10, 2009

President Obama wants to rewrite the calendar.

As far as he’s concerned, the year has progressed from June to July to September. August is to be forever erased from our minds and our hearts.

His speech to a joint session of Congress was delivered as if the late unpleasantness of last month never happened, or as if it were all simply “bickering” and “games” on the otherwise smooth, consensual path to reordering one-sixth of the nation’s economy in one fell swoop.

“Now is the season for action,” Obama intoned.

In other words, please don’t bother me with your inconvenient Congressional Budget Office reports, with your tiresome concerns about ballooning government in an era of exploding debt, with your facts—yes, the House bill would end up covering abortion—that I prefer to deny.

Now is the time for all good men to vote with me or get out of the way.

Obama mouthed his usual platitudes about drawing ideas from Republicans and seeking common ground.

By implication, he characterized Republican opposition to his plan as devoid of “facts and reason,” even as he called for civil debate.

And he ended his speech with a long, heartfelt passage defending government activism as essential to the national character. This was the speech of an ideologue posing as a pragmatist.

Of course, it was an able and spirited performance. Obama with a TelePrompTer is like Yo-Yo Ma with a cello.

In the near term, the speech might even help him. But circumstances are different than his storied oratorical performances of the past. Now his rhetoric is tethered to 1,000-page legislation that bears little relation to his key representations.

For such a reputedly fine, nuanced policy mind, Obama can’t get basic things right about his party’s proposals.

Last night, he again insisted that the Democratic plans will reduce health-care costs when there is no serious mechanism to do so (outside eventual rationing, although Obama insists that will never happen).

Obama said more preventive care saves money, when it isn’t so.

He relied on an intentionally misleading formulation to reassure people that they wouldn’t have their current arrangements disrupted.

“Nothing in our plan [requires] you to change what you have,” Obama said, twice. True enough, but note the cagey choice of words. It wouldn’t be mandated by law, but the effect of the plans would be to detach millions from their current coverage.

Obama portrays the Democratic proposals as utterly cost-free. They won’t add to the deficit and they will be paid for painlessly.

In language that will be closely parsed, Obama strongly defended the public option, but also said it’s only one part of his plan. He wants to forestall a progressive revolt in the House over the public option, evidently doomed in the Senate.

But besides this, there was little the left wouldn’t love. For weeks, it has urged the president to get more confrontational and adamant.

Last night, Obama signaled that he will happily bulldoze an opposition that he believes deserves its fate. So, in the face of a skeptical public, he and his Democrats will set about pushing through a massive, Great Society-style program all by themselves.

As they relegate August to the memory hole.


- end of initial entry -

Richard S. writes:

Why didn’t Obama offer the Republicans a bone? I’m stunned by his intransigence. I’m sure that RINOs like Collins and Snow of Maine or Lugar of Indiana would gladly get on board if they could turn around and say to their constituencies that, “See? He put in strictures against taxpayer funded healthcare for illegals,” or, “You can get cheaper health insurance now that the rule against selling it across state lines has been waived.” Minor concessions that would have allowed him to get 75-80 percent of what he wanted, with Republican support for cover.

Obama is not bright, not bright at all. But surely his advisors—Axelrod, Emanuel, and Soros behind them—surely they must understand that there are times when a little give is in order: give in order to get.

Instead, Obama’s bullheadedness may just have allowed us to dodge a terrible bullet.

But I’m still stunned and I still don’t get it.

Mark P. writes:

Richard S. wrote:

“Obama is not bright, not bright at all. But surely his advisors—Axelrod, Emanuel, and Soros behind them—surely they must understand that there are times when a little give is in order: give in order to get.”

I would not be surprised if Obama stopped listening to Axelrod, Emanuel, and Soros. Given the staffing increases in the WH (Michelle Obama alone has 26 staffers), I would not be surprised if he has too many incompetent flatterers competing for his ear. Furthermore, like most people, Obama probably believes he is a self-made man instead of a product of patronage and now feels he can strike out on his own and do whatever he wants.

Not a good sign for the country, but it will bring down this presidency all the faster.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 10, 2009 05:52 PM | Send

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