June 1, 2010
The Smallest President
Would someone remind us again why the nation elected this man to be president? A man with no resume, a man with no experience in running anything other than a political campaign, a man who is ignorant of history, economics, and technology? A man who is shallow and lazy? A man who shares neither character nor temperament with the American people in this vast republic? How did this happen?
Voters were smitten by the ideological handmaidens of identity politics and the promise of big government. The identity politics substituted a cosmetic profile for character and experience. The promise was that big government has the benevolent power and enlightened expertise to remake America from the top down into a more capable, more caring, kinder, gentler, and more respected place.
What we've received instead was on display at the president's long-awaited press conference in the last week of May. Only a partisan or a fool could deny the irredeemable failure of these ideological handmaidens, the genius of Obama's shrinking presidency. No amount of posturing, buffing up, or Q&A briefing book drills could hide the reality that this man is on a raft at sea accompanied by an equally bewildered boatload of companions who have no idea how they arrived in such deep water, hundreds of miles from land, and with no clue that they are in trouble, let alone what to do about it.
What we've received instead from the ideology of identity politics and big government has been the spread of competency and accountability so thin that the federal government is utterly incapable of defending our shores and borders from invasion -- one by sea in the form of a massive crude oil slick, the other by land in the waves of illegal immigrants flooding Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. In utter exasperation, the citizens of Arizona finally took matters into their own hands, only to be vilified by Obama and his cohorts, who have neither the will nor the capacity to do anything about it.
Identity politics is where grievance-mongering and class resentment intersect with entitlement agitation and representational profiling. Those who use the currency of identity politics appeal to the ideals of justice and fair distribution of resources and outcomes. But in reality they prey on those who are underprivileged and dependent, making claims of dispossession against those who have enjoyed success and independence derived from their own sweat, equity, and competence.
Leaders who devote all of their energy and emotional capital to identity politics instead of creating a competent, skills-based organization soon discover that when critical decisions need to be made and highly skilled resources need to be mobilized, nobody is around who knows how to do it. Such leaders, eventually tuned out and abandoned by even their former acolytes, become irrelevant, easily overwhelmed by events and rivals, taking their organizations -- even a nation -- down with them.
ObamaCare was the progeny of a shrinking president preoccupied with identity politics accompanied by big government ideology and not much else, floated on the emotional chaise of justice and fair distribution. Yet its proponents thoroughly disregarded the vast, complex, and highly skilled bureaucracy needed to attain those ideals in a brand new, centralized, top-down social engineering monstrosity. It will require a bureaucracy ten times the size of the Pentagon.
And now we are watching in slow-motion agony the failure of identity politics and big government unwilling and unable to cope with the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, gradually revealed like a developing image from a Polaroid instant print. Identity politics assured that no one with any skills or experience would occupy the top jobs in Obama's administration needed to navigate a crisis of this magnitude.
And where oh where is the president, anyhow? Playing another round of golf and hosting the Duke University women's basketball team.
Obama's presidency is finished because identity trumped competency. And without competency, his big government is dysfunctional and destructive.
So what's the alternative? Simple. The ideology of limited government. Why? Because limited government is the antithesis of identity politics. The ideology of limited government wouldn't need to rely on overextended organization competencies to manage vast and complex bureaucracies because those bureaucracies would be unnecessary and wouldn't exist. Without identity politics, people who actually know what they're doing could occupy key jobs.
Limited government has to assemble and target just those competencies needed to carry out the limited duties envisioned in the U.S. Constitution, such as providing for the common defense, facilitating interstate commerce and a monetary system, and defending the rights reserved to the people. Everything else can be better-managed by private enterprise, where distributed self interest can gather competencies in units small enough to accomplish something useful.
Identity politics combined with incompetence have exposed the absurdity in the ambitions of big government and made Obama the weakest, most anemic and flaccid president in the modern era. The Latinate word would be diminutive. In simple Saxon tongue, the word is small. This is Obama's presidency.