April 6, 2010
Obama's ListBy J.R. Dunn
Over the past year and a half, we've seen much in the way of speculation of what Obama is really up to, what his true agenda might be behind all the soothing and meretricious rhetoric. It was quite clear that "Obama" was a construct, a carefully manufactured image, as all politicians are to one extent or another. But Obama was an extreme example -- all image, most of it having little or no connection with any discernible substance. The gap between what he said and what he would then proceed to do was wide and glaring. This obvious and undeniable discontinuity is the major factor feeding all the conspiracy theories -- the ones featuring George Soros as puppet-master, the claims of adherence to Islam, and so forth. If only it were that simple! The past few weeks have clearly revealed that Obama is something at the same time entirely more commonplace while also being more obnoxious.
Obama is an example of that peculiar American contribution to the long line of political deviancy: the romantic leftist, a combination of undergrad Marxism, New Deal activism, Great Society idealism, and late '60s dementia. In fulfillment of this role, he is going down the list of left-wing daydreams, wish-fulfillment fantasies, and unfinished business, and doing his damnedest to see them made reality. No more than that, and certainly no less.
Take a look at his latest series of crimes. Start with health-care "reform." We all know about this -- or, at least as much as we can be expected to know about a bill that is incoherent, contradictory, longer than Remembrance of Things Past, and not fully grasped by even its most fanatical adherents. (Oh, there is one thing we do know that they don't -- that things that go up also come down, either by way of the Supreme Court, congressional repeal, or the streets of Washington opening up to swallow everyone who voted for the atrocious thing.)
As for the newly announced nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia, we know even less about that, apart from it being a "breakthrough." The single concrete point I've been able to gather is that the treaty terms will allow eight hundred launch systems, a provision that only indirectly involves nuclear weapons as such. If true, this has the feel of complete disarmament and not the nuclear variety at all. Does this mean eight hundred missiles? Or missiles, bombers, submarines, and what have you? It doesn't sound at all good. We'll know more when Massa O comes down from the big house to explain it to us.
Third is the manned space program, now effectively kaput. Constellation was morphing into the standard gold-plated NASA make-work program, which does not mean that it wasn't worth pursuing anyway, as the only game in town. The idea of a major nation not possessing a manned program in the 21st century is an absurdity in and of itself, particularly in light of the fact that such world powers as India, China, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos are all moving into manned spaceflight in a big way. Eventually somebody is going to stop ditzing around in low earth orbit and start exploiting the vast resources available on the moon and in the inner solar system. It would be nice if that person spoke English.
All three of these have been on the lefty checklist for decades or longer. Health care since Harry Truman...or was it FDR? Or perhaps Aristides the Just? Government health care was the goal the left was aiming at with the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid a half-century ago. And we're still not there yet -- the left won't be satisfied until they have their completely centralized system on the model of the U.K.'s National Health Service. That's why they don't really care what's in the current program -- it's designed to fail, and in short order, so that they can nationalize it in order to "save" it.
Nuclear disarmament was in large part of product of the KGB, the secret sponsors of every disarmament movement from the 1950s SANE to the to the 1980s Nuclear Freeze. But tainted origins don't matter. Anything is better than nukes, which must be banished forthwith.
The space program has been a left-wing target since it first began. The standard argument -- that it's a "waste of money" -- can be set aside. The left considers every dime outside its direct control to be "wasted." Rather, it's a combination of elements, including lack of imagination and spirit, an inability to see what a new age of exploration would mean for America and the world at large, and a sense of bitterness at America's achievement -- the U.S. will always be the nation that first set foot on the moon, something that leftists find difficult to accept.
In the past two weeks, Obama has taken all three off the board. His other recent efforts -- beating up on Wall Street, attempting to resuscitate the unions, groveling before third-world tyrants -- are also characteristic of the American left and nobody else. (When did you last see a Castro or a Chávez bowing to a sheikh?) Obama is a typical example of a particular type of left-winger produced by the United States alone among all nations. He is doing exactly what would be expected from this type of leftist, out of absolute conviction. Not in the service of any third party. Not to destroy or cripple the country. With his college-sophomore grasp of the world, he seriously believes that he's doing the right thing and will be vindicated before the end titles roll up. This in defiance of the clear failure of every last left-of-center domestic and international program of the past eighty years. This is ideological blindness at its deepest.
So what predictions can we derive from this? What else is on the list? The answer is -- what do the lefties want?
We will see attempted legislation on all these -- and likely more -- over the next few years, particularly in light of Obama's recent "triumphs".
But what about the exceptions? Guns in the national parks? Clearance for new nuclear reactors in Georgia? The new offshore drilling program? Each case involves triangulation of the most transparent and inadequate type. Bill Clinton was at least taking concrete action with NAFTA and welfare reform. Obama is doing no such thing. Loosening gun restrictions is a bone thrown to the despised "clingers." The reactor projects must still clear the standard regulatory barriers, an unlikely event. The drilling program is almost completely bogus. More exploration fields off of Alaska were closed than opened, along with the entire Pacific Coast and much of the Atlantic.
Obama's problem is that romantic leftism is consistently disastrous. A brief examination of FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society, the models for Obama's efforts, will reveal that clearly. More to the point, the prototypes for his recent triumphs have also failed wherever they have been put into effect. Concerning health care, we're told that we've joined the rest of the civilized world. So here's what civilization looks like:
In 2008, the Australian health care system came near to meltdown after the New South Wales hospital network collapsed. The money was all spent, vendors stopped supplying medical materials, patients just out of surgery lay screaming on their beds after the morphine and sedatives ran out, and hundreds of specialists and personnel jumped ship for jobs in private medical centers. How did it happen? Nobody knows. Last year, Dr. Anne Doig, the incoming head of Canadian Medicare, stated publicly that the system was nearing implosion. She promised to try to fix it. She did not sound enthusiastic. In the U.K., mother of all national health services, not a week goes by without another series of stories in British papers detailing corruption, incompetence, and sheer cruelty within the NHS. Recent news includes reports that dozens of local hospitals will be closed down as a money-saving measure, leaving many communities with no medical facilities whatsoever. Tens of thousands have died in the hands of the NHS in recent years, and tens if not hundreds of thousands more will die before any meaningful reform occurs. These countries, composing the core of the Anglosphere, are on their way to third-world status as far as their health-care systems are concerned. We just joined them on that slide. As for me, I liked barbarism better.
There is an argument to be made for maintaining a small but useful number of nuclear weapons, but you won't hear it from the left. Their contention is that nukes are no good and must be gotten rid of in toto. Forget the fact that they ended World War II decisively and quickly, that they helped win the Cold War (Could the West have kept the USSR contained without them? The simple answer is "no".), and have played a large part in keeping the peace since. No matter -- they're Bad Things, and they must be eradicated, along with DDT, alar, fast foods, and Toyota. So Obama has heroically tackled the job -- just as Iran is obtaining its own nuclear arsenal. Great timing.
The first manned space program, which culminated in the Apollo lunar missions, was canceled by Richard Nixon while he was playing his "I'm a liberal too" game during the run-up to Watergate. The ensuing economic shock caused by the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs (Where did the liberals think those paychecks were going to? Somebody living on the surface of Pluto?), helping to kick off the 1970s recession that hung on like a bad flu until Reagan took office. Obama simply repeated Nixon's error, with a recession already in place. What will the results be? What would you guess?
Any one of these programs, in place or planned, would be problematic at best -- creating serious and intractable problems during a period where resources and finances are stretched thin. But going into effect all at once -- along with lesser examples I haven't mentioned -- is the political equivalent of opening the seven seals. Like all other leftists before him, Obama knows he's right and that once these gimmicks are passed, the problems will simply solve themselves. It's the same attitude that afflicted FDR's brain trusters, LBJ's best and brightest, and all the little manipulators and systemizers in between. They change not at all. They might as well be wearing baggy suits, two-tone shoes, and straw boaters.
It's tempting to simply stand aside and watch Obama crash and burn. But it's not tempting enough, because innocents -- such as the people who have already canceled their health insurance and are awaiting their personal notification from Obama -- will crash and burn with him. We must rather make the effort to limit the damage as much as we can with whatever resources we possess.
All the same, the prospect is no longer frightening or foreboding. It's exhilarating. Thanks to O, the third millennium is getting interesting. We're off on one swift ride down hell's highway, with a man at the wheel who thinks the truck steers itself. When we at last reach a turnoff, things are going to be very different.
Obama, quite contrary to his intentions, is set on ramming us into a brick wall before we complete the ride. Fortunately, the truck is very large and very sturdy, while the wall is shoddy and poorly made, the bricks ancient, cracked, and deteriorating.
When it's all over, there will be one thing left standing amidst the wreckage. It will be either that perverse little political philosophy called romantic leftism, or the United States. I'm betting it'll be the old US of A.
One thing I know -- it won't be Obama's reputation.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker and will edit the forthcoming Military Thinker.