Obama, the 'fourth transformative progressive'

Joseph Smith
First Lady Michelle Obama's convention speech observed that "being President doesn't change who you are... it reveals who you are."

And George Will, writing for the Washington Post, in like manner observes that in 2008

Barack Obama was America's Rorschach test, upon whom voters could project their disparate yearnings. To govern, however, is to choose, and now his choices have clarified him.

Will's column, eloquently written and helpfully titled "Obama: the real radical," views the President as the "fourth transformative progressive," whose goal is to perfect the 100-year mission of his presidential progenitors: Wilson Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.

Referencing an intriguing new book by Charles Kesler, I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism, and Mr. Kesler's observation that Obama is "playing a long, high-stakes game," Mr. Will notes that the President has been careful to conceal the exact nature of his infamous fundamental transformation:

Concerning the stakes, Obama practices prudent reticence, not specifying America's displeasing features that are fundamental.

Even health care reform, cast in concrete unless repealed shortly, is for the most part carefully concealed from public view, with the main administration talking points being coverage of 21-26 year-olds and women's reproductive health care. 

Massive new entitlements?  Cost control through rationing?  ...Not our bill! 

Government bureaucrats between you and your doctor?  ...Republican exaggerations! 

And so it is with most of the agenda, with only inadvertent peeks under the tent, such as having more flexibility for Putin after the election, or "working" on gun control "under the radar."

Will's quotes from Kesler's book highlight the historical connections to Obama:

... society may be perfected through the instrumentality of government.  (Wilson)

...making government "an instrument of unimagined power" for social improvement.  (Roosevelt)

On rights granted by the "rulers," Will relates Kesler's "First Law of Big Government: the more power we give the government, the more rights it will give us":

It also is the ultimate American radicalism, striking at the roots of the American regime, the doctrine of natural rights. Remember this when next - perhaps tonight - Obama discourses on the radicalism of Paul Ryan.

Of Obama's convention speech, Will poses the existential question for Barack Obama, calling the speech

Obama's last chance to take a first step toward accommodation with a country increasingly concerned about his unmasked determination to "transform" what the Founders considered "fundamentals."

Construction of the accommodation, the new Obama narrative, is really what the entire Democratic convention was all about, as Rush Limbaugh has observed.

But facts are facts, and history is history.  As Mr. Will posits, Americans in 2012 seek not more utopian disfunction, but rather "a mature understanding of the limits to government's proper scope and actual competence."

And as Mrs. Obama so presciently said, a President's record "reveals who you are."


First Lady Michelle Obama's convention speech observed that "being President doesn't change who you are... it reveals who you are."

And George Will, writing for the Washington Post, in like manner observes that in 2008

Barack Obama was America's Rorschach test, upon whom voters could project their disparate yearnings. To govern, however, is to choose, and now his choices have clarified him.

Will's column, eloquently written and helpfully titled "Obama: the real radical," views the President as the "fourth transformative progressive," whose goal is to perfect the 100-year mission of his presidential progenitors: Wilson Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.

Referencing an intriguing new book by Charles Kesler, I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism, and Mr. Kesler's observation that Obama is "playing a long, high-stakes game," Mr. Will notes that the President has been careful to conceal the exact nature of his infamous fundamental transformation:

Concerning the stakes, Obama practices prudent reticence, not specifying America's displeasing features that are fundamental.

Even health care reform, cast in concrete unless repealed shortly, is for the most part carefully concealed from public view, with the main administration talking points being coverage of 21-26 year-olds and women's reproductive health care. 

Massive new entitlements?  Cost control through rationing?  ...Not our bill! 

Government bureaucrats between you and your doctor?  ...Republican exaggerations! 

And so it is with most of the agenda, with only inadvertent peeks under the tent, such as having more flexibility for Putin after the election, or "working" on gun control "under the radar."

Will's quotes from Kesler's book highlight the historical connections to Obama:

... society may be perfected through the instrumentality of government.  (Wilson)

...making government "an instrument of unimagined power" for social improvement.  (Roosevelt)

On rights granted by the "rulers," Will relates Kesler's "First Law of Big Government: the more power we give the government, the more rights it will give us":

It also is the ultimate American radicalism, striking at the roots of the American regime, the doctrine of natural rights. Remember this when next - perhaps tonight - Obama discourses on the radicalism of Paul Ryan.

Of Obama's convention speech, Will poses the existential question for Barack Obama, calling the speech

Obama's last chance to take a first step toward accommodation with a country increasingly concerned about his unmasked determination to "transform" what the Founders considered "fundamentals."

Construction of the accommodation, the new Obama narrative, is really what the entire Democratic convention was all about, as Rush Limbaugh has observed.

But facts are facts, and history is history.  As Mr. Will posits, Americans in 2012 seek not more utopian disfunction, but rather "a mature understanding of the limits to government's proper scope and actual competence."

And as Mrs. Obama so presciently said, a President's record "reveals who you are."