Clarice's Pieces: God Bless Barack Obama

I suppose that heading is a bit startling coming from me this fall Sunday but I mean it. In literature, deus ex machina refers to a plot device which resolves what appears to pose an intractable problem. And, as I explain, I think Obama is ours -- a character who appears out of nowhere with a cast of appointees so preposterous and an agenda so irrational and offensive to Americans that he has shocked us out of our torpor, inducing millions of us out of our comfy chairs and to the barricades.

It was Alexis de Tocqueville who first termed the United States exceptional. James Q. Wilson:

In 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville discussed American exceptionalism in Democracy in America, and he is still correct. There was then and there continues to be now in this country a remarkable commitment to liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, and laissez-faire values. He gave three explanations for this state of affairs: we came to occupy a vast, largely empty, and isolated continent; we have benefited from a legal system that involves federalism and an independent judiciary; and we have embraced certain "habits of the heart" that were profoundly shaped by our religious tradition. Of these, Tocqueville rightly said that our customs were more important than our laws, and our laws more important than our geography. What is remarkable today is that a vast nation of around 300 million people still share views once held by a few million crowded along the eastern seaboard. [snip]

America was slow to adopt welfare programs, social security, unemployment insurance, and government-supported health care, while Europe adopted these policies rapidly. We have kept our tax rate lower than it is in most of Europe. The central difference is not that Europeans are either smarter or dumber than we, but that a parliamentary system permits temporary popular majorities to make bold changes rather quickly, while a presidential system with a powerful, independent, and internally divided Congress requires that big changes undergo lengthy debates and substantive accommodations. On occasion, America acts like a parliamentary system, as it did under Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression and under Lyndon Johnson when they commanded extraordinary majorities in both houses of Congress.

We are exceptional, then, but not because we are so special, so much better than people of  other nations. Rather, it is because God graced us with founding fathers who were brilliant at understanding human nature and who had spent considerable time studying what constitutes good governance, and they codified those thoughts in a gorgeous federal republic guided by a written constitution. These were founders who, perhaps alone in history, ceded their power to the people in the belief that self-governance by free men beat any other system known to man.

It is our obligation in every generation to preserve and protect what the Creator and His agents, the authors of the Constitution, devised for us. We've not been paying as much attention to our duties as we ought to, but we're waking up, and Obama will learn, if he hasn't yet, that this is not Africa or Europe or South America, with some Johnny-come-lately illusory version of democracy in which all power comes from the top and elections and branches of government are meaningless checks on overweening central power.

As Professor Wilson observes, twice before -- under Roosevelt and Johnson -- when the Democrats controlled all three branches of the government, the United States acted as a parliamentary government. Many -- especially those in academia and the media, who see themselves as arms of the political elite -- prefer this system. They feel they are smarter than the rest of us and should decide how we live. We tend to believe in distributed intelligence, that the decisions based on self-interest of millions of citizens produces far better results than central planning.

Obama neither respects nor understands this distinction. And with the aid of Pelosi and Reid rammed down our throats, major, system-altering legislation like ObamaCare and spent more money than anyone could have imagined on preposterous programs like Cash for Clunkers, TARP, and the GM bailout. He has reserved for himself the power to liberate from such strangling regulation those he likes, negating the American core concept of equality under the law. (See this list of the 111 organizations he's waived from ObamaCare restrictions.)

Perhaps if he'd proceeded more slowly -- as he might have, were he not motivated by such extraordinary arrogance and egotism -- he might have succeeded in moving us farther down the road to European-style socialism just as its significant weaknesses have become evident even to Europeans, who long embraced it. But he didn't. So Americans had an opportunity to see beyond his smoke-and-mirrors, Hope-and-Change fantasy to what he was really about. We accordingly dug in hard and fast, and the midterms should have been to any rational person a sign to change course.

But that doesn't seem to be the case.

As Americans grow outraged at the fast theft of their rights on everything from light bulbs to medical care, the administration simply escalates the outrages.

This video of the maltreatment of air travelers at the hands of a huge TSA bureaucracy, which is more successful at pilfering from our baggage and assaulting us than it has been at stopping terrorism, brings together a sample of the anger brewing around the country. To make matters worse, as innocent travelers are being abused and beaten and embarrassed by these screeners in what we all know is but a theatrical effort to show that the government is doing  something to protect us, the president and his attorney general are insisting on treating captured terrorists like burglars, ignoring the  fact that civilian trials operate under different rules, far more favorable to defendants, than do military commissions. In sum, the administration is treating innocent citizens with more disregard than it treats confessed terrorist murderers.

Still, the administration doesn't get it. It still is working on expanding its regulatory overreach to the internet (net neutrality); energy production and costs (using the EPA to achieve what it could not get through proposed cap and trade legislation). Even our ability to use  mobile phones, which have proven so valuable to commuters and families who must juggle children's activities and adult obligations, is in their sights.

Transportation Secretary LaHood is threatening to disable all mobile phones in cars. I can't think people who commute, work from their cars, or have complicated choreography to get to and from work or their kids' schools and activities will stand for that.

And then there are the locovores and organic foodies. The administration wants to extend the FDA authority over the small farms that produce this stuff. The cost of this program will add to the already overweight federal workforce and so overburden these small farmers with compliance details that they will go out of business. (Maybe they can get jobs frisking kids in airports or checking that all mobile phones in cars are really disabled, or building sidewalks to nowhere...but they will be out of the farm business.)

 Newsweek, which just was auctioned over for $1, continues its Obama adulation and apologia with a cover equating him to the Hindu god Shiva and a suggestion that he is the god of everything and the job is too big for one man. The job is a hard one. Certainly it is over the head of Newsweek's presidential preference Obama, who had not one thing besides a campaign well-structured to appeal to those ignorant of his beliefs and thin résumé. But the founding fathers never imagined that there would be a succession of Shivas to do this job. That's why they made it a representative republic. That's why they made us the deciders in chief of our lives and governance. That's why I'm glad Obama came along and woke us all up again to the exceptionally brilliant American way and made us fight to preserve it from this silly, vain incompetent.

 - Clarice Feldman