Saturday, December 26, 2009

"Where Did These Guys Come From?": A question by Victor Davis Hanson, a comment and a conclusion.

December 23rd, 2009 9:54 am

Where Did These Guys Come From?

The Origins of Obamism

by Victor Davis Hanson

I do not think it will be easy to delay Obamism. It is not just that both houses of Congress are under liberal leadership with ample majorities, with a White House and captive media egging them on. The problem is that now the entire engine of the federal government is harnessed in the most unapologetic way to pushing through a far left agenda. There is no shame, no hesitancy in using the full powers of the state.

How does that work out? Without qualification (remember we are in a new age of transparency and ethical reform) votes are bought with hundred-million-dollar earmarks; the attorney general predicates judicial action on the political ramifications of indicting or not indicting; federal bureaucracies (watch the EPA if cap and trade stalls) are devoted to the new Caesar rather than the letter of the law.

Such a strange scenario we have found ourselves in—a clear majority of Americans is opposed to almost everything Obama has to offer; congressional representatives know they are acting against the will of the people, but know too that they are offered all sorts of borrowed money for their districts to compensate for their unpopular actions. And a charismatic commander in chief believes that he can charm even the angriest of critics, and that anything he promises (Iran’s deadlines, closing of Guantanamo, new transparency, no more lobbyists, etc) means zilch and can be contextualized by another “let me be perfectly clear” speech spiced with a couple of the usual “it would have been impossible for someone as unlikely as me to have become President just (fill in the blanks) years ago”

No, I would not count Obama out. So what drives his agenda? What are its origins?
Here are the three most prominent catalysts.

Equality of Result

What Barack Obama advocates is as old as Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Politics, the agenda of the classical dêmos and Roman turba.

It is why the French Revolution emphasized égalité and fraternité, while the Founding Fathers instead championed the freedom of the individual from the despotism of the state. In short, equality of result doctrine ignores the role of markets, of skills, of tragedy itself that renders some of us ill, others in perfect health, some born gifted, others less so, some evil by nature, others good, and instead promises that the state can even us all out through its power of material redistribution. Give us all the same amount of money and perks at the end of the day, and then utopia reigns under the benevolent watch of Ivy-League professors and organizers.

It is a given that what we make is not our own, but predicated on the liberality of society. Thus, for those who were too greedy, too conniving, or even too lucky, the state must step in to ensure that we end up the same.

In its most benign form, we know this as progressivism or communitarianism, a big government, high tax philosophy that co-exists within democracy. Its more pernicious strains are socialist, in which the state ensures, through bureaucratic fiat and a labyrinth of laws that curb free expression, that redistribution is institutionalized. And the virulent form (thankfully with the fall of the Soviet Union and the transformation of China not so global-threatening any more) is, of course, a murderous communism, in which any means necessary are justified to ensure the desire ends and the rule of anointed apparat. Remember, history’s greatest killers (Stalin and Mao) do it all “for the people.”


But there is another element to Barack Obama besides progressive statism. A number of contemporary –isms and –ologies (multiculturalism, moral equivalence, utopian pacifism, post-modernism) also help to explain Obamism, especially in cultural terms. Our universities subscribe to race/class/gender theory of exploitation, in which much of the unhappiness of today’s women, of today’s nonwhite, and of today’s poor originates with the privileges of the white Christian Western male that are predicated on oppression.

It works like this: The ghetto resident, the denizen of the barrio, the abandoned and divorced waitress with three young children, can all chart their poverty and unhappiness not to accident, fate, bad luck, bad decisions, poor judgment, illegality or drug use, or simple tragedy, but rather exclusively to a system that is rigged to ensure oppression on the basis of race, class, and gender—often insidious and unfathomable except to the sensitive and gifted academic or community organizer.

So Obama combines the age-old belief that the state is there to level the playing field (rather than protect the rights of the individual and secure the safety of the people from foreign threats), with the postmodern notion that government must recompensate those by fiat on the basis on their race or class or gender. Remember all that, and everything from the Professor Gates incident, to the dutiful attendance at the foot of Rev. Wright to Van Jones become logical rather than aberrant. Michelle Obama could make $300,000 and she will always be more a victim than the Appalachian coal miner who earns $30,000, by virtue of her race and gender.

The Chicago Way

A third and final ingredient to Obamism is the Chicago way. Here we see an interesting updated version of the old big-city, Daley thuggery. Rahm Emanuel threatens recalcitrant congressmen with reminders of the long Obama memory. The Axelrod/Jarrett clique ensures that the government channels stimuli to blue-states, that key Congress people are bought off with tens of millions of government largess, that every campaign promise—from no lobbyists and airing on C-span health care debates to posting impending legislation on the Internet for set durations and “reaching across the aisle”—is simply cynical fluff that no sane person would take seriously.


In short, we have a traditional statist bent on redistribution (Obama’s words, not mine), updated with the postmodern belief that race/class/gender oppressions require government affirmative reactions (which also abroad explains why we reach out to enemies and shun allies), all energized by an ends justify the means Chicago bare-knuckles apparat.


These true believers, then, don’t really care that the Blue Dogs (if such really exist) bite the dust in 2010, if Harry Reid goes up in smoke, or indeed, if Barack Obama is reelected. Instead, they will institutionalize an agenda that will affect America for generations, move it sharply to the left, and earn a spot in the academic pantheon of American heroes.

Asking why would Obama & Co. be so self-destructive to push through an array of proposals that have no more than 45% of the public’s support is like asking whether the English Prof who teaches incomprehensible Foucauldian theory worries whether he has only 2 students, or whether the well-off union boss is all that upset that membership has sunk to 30% of the workforce, or multimillion-dollar-earning Sarah Palin-interviewing Katie Couric is worried about her sinking ratings, or whether the New York Times columnists are upset that their mother paper is broke with subscription and readership down, and laying off thousands of blue-collar employees.

Instead, for the true believer, it is all about the self, and the sense of the self—and damn all other considerations. (We saw that with Jimmy Carter as well; that he destroyed liberal Democrat politics for a generation meant nothing; that he won prizes and jet-setted the world for thirty years meant everything. For these people, it is always about them—all the time. Let us eat cake as they end up liberal icons for the duration).

What Are We Left With?

The most blatant cynicism in recent American political history—a man who ran as a bipartisan who is the most partisan we’ve seen, a healer whose even flippant comments are designed to offend, a statist who assumes that the sheared sheep cannot stampede somewhere else, a reformer who trusts his honey-laced rhetoric can disguise Daley style-corruption.

On that happy note.

Everything, as my dear late mother lectured me, happens for a reason, or at least presents a sort of logic—irony, paradox, karma, and nemesis being the best ways of interpreting our unfathomable existences. It took messianic narcissistic Barack Obama to expose the full extent of the mess that a once noble tradition of 19th-century liberalism had devolved into. Only he could have rammed it down the throats of the American people, and when he is done, we will suffer, but also sicken of it for quite a while.

Otherwise, Merry Christmas! And thanks again to the most informed, articulate, and outspoken commentators in the blogosphere!

R. Curry left this comment:

Brilliant !

Thank you, again.

I especially appreciate this:

"It is why the French Revolution emphasized égalité and fraternité, while the Founding Fathers instead championed the freedom of the individual from the despotism of the state."

Clearly, the Obamaists are trying to overthrow the legacy of the Founders.

Which leads me to this conclusion:

"Overthrow(ing) the legacy of the Founders"? Isn't another name for that treason?



Toastrider said...

Hmm... running semantic checks... why, yes, yes, I do believe that at least qualifies as sedition if not treason.

Not that it matters, as they're happily wiping their asses with the writings of the Founders anyways. Not just the Constitution; every bit that was written around that time, from Silence Dogood to Thomas Paine to the Federalist Papers.

Yeah. I'm moving to /Mars/.

III more than them said...

Mike wrote..
"Which leads me to this conclusion:

"Overthrow(ing) the legacy of the Founders"? Isn't another name for that treason? "

Yes, it is. They hope we, the populace in general, will sit back and do little more than complain as we walk through the sheering chute. They know that their new toilet paper is the Constitution. It's quite useful to them for that purpose.

What I have a hard time explaining to others is how these people use the Constitution's own weight to bring it down. Its controls are used only to strengthen their power, and whatever aspects of it would seek to check that power, well, they are ignored, re-interpreted and made into "teachable moments".

It is possible to break the spirit of the law while following the letter. It is possible to engage in treasonous activity while looking like defenders of liberty, rights and representative democracy.

chinasyndrome said...

Yes it is they should all be thrown out,if not Imprisoned! Article was dead on.

Tom Wolff said...

III More of me than them said...

(A buncha great stuff)

Yep, and to paraphrase The Bard, "A
TREASON by any other name smells just as foul".

Anonymous said...

The thing about Mr. 'I Live as A Roman Senator of Old on My California Vineyard' VDH is that he is a paid up member of the elitist academia. Like Mr. Mark Steyn, he is a clever character who writes well and crafts seemingly well reasoned and logical arguments and comments that ring with conservative Americans. The problem of course, is that like Steyn, O'Rielly, and any other wannabe media personality they are phonies. Their purpose is to deflect patriots from organizing and acting together efficiently and effectively by subtly inserting maladaptive views and arguments. For instance in this article while Mr. VDH accurately describes many of the failings and problems of those who occupy commanding positions in our government, he completely leaves out of the equation the simple fact that these morons are paid off puppets who take their orders from others. By portraying the situation as 'politics as usual', he deflects attention from the simple fact that the political process and therefore the government of the United States, was long ago taken over by an organized criminal conspiracy, and has in fact become a de facto Criminal State. If it just politics as usual then its okay for folks to go about their brainless existence; if it is a criminal coup that threatens all our rights then it is time for a repeat on a national scale of San Fran in 1856.


Anonymous said...

I suspect that Obama, as an individual, is altogether irrelevant to the flows of D.C. power. He was a nobody prior to this election, and in my view, remains a nobody, his situation wholly predicated on his performance as a marionette equipped with a convenient debate-squelching race card.

The action is all behind the curtain, more so than it has been in recent memory, given such a worm of a figurehead and the effete Congress which stepped aside as the nation was bent over by criminal bankers.

The people pulling the strings need a talking to. Obama, as far as I'm concerned, can go to hell in his own good time.


p.s. Very well put, Bacsi!

Sean said...

Agree with Anon, these guys write great, but they are all squishes. Like Hannity and Medved, complain, and then suggest the usual. There's tyranny afoot, and they call for paper and speeches. Meanwhile, the dictatorship that is the reality grows bolder and more wicked by the breath. Only those bold enough to spit in the eye of the Red Queen will be able to stand. Free American! Or no American at all! III.