The banality of Barack Obama
Obama made a big speech in South Africa, and all I can think is, Same old Obama.
His techniques are all there: nods to the opposition, odd things thrown into sequences of events to deflect attention from his record, and a view of the world that hasn't changed a bit since his days of reading Tom Friedman. Heck, he probably still reads Tom Friedman, and golfs with him out on the tony, gated links, too.
He blathers on about the wonders of globalism and technology, and then takes credit for all of the "progress." Progress, progressivism, get it? He calls for taxing "the rich." He also does quite a bit to ignore his own record, starting with his doubled down record of lies (Obamacare, Benghazi, Hillary Clinton's emails) and says other politicians do it. Yech.
Here are some of the most annoying highlights of his dreary speech, which is sure to fade into the ether, given its rote loathing of President Trump (not mentioned by name, but obvious enough) and inability to grasp his own role in all the problems he talks about.
He starts with praise for the big state over the dynamism and enterprise of the private sector, all because of its control:
In those nations with market-based economies, suddenly union movements developed; and health and safety and commercial regulations were instituted; and access to public education was expanded; and social welfare systems emerged, all with the aim of constraining the excesses of capitalism and enhancing its ability to provide opportunity not just to some but to all people. And the result was unmatched economic growth and a growth of the middle class.
Then he shows amazing unfamiliarity with how South Africa has fallen apart since Mandela left the scene, with white farmers' farms expropriated Zimbabwe-style, opening the gate for the rest of that same-old-socialism result. Maybe Mandela didn't set up the institutions to prevent that as he should have. Right now, South Africa has tyranny of the majority, the same miserable picture found all over the Third World, which stays third-world, for this reason.
And then as Madiba guided this nation through negotiation painstakingly, reconciliation ... we understood it was not just the subjugated, the oppressed who were being freed from the shackles of the past. The subjugator was being offered a gift, being given a chance to see in a new way, being given a chance to participate in the work of building a better world.
Or this old chestnut out of tune with current events:
It is a plain fact that racial discrimination still exists in both the United States and South Africa. (Cheers and applause.)
He uses euphemisms for socialism, calling them "closed economies." Anybody know a "closed" economy that isn't socialist? And plenty of those "market-based principles" were little more than crony capitalism, as the horrible experience of Russia in the 1990s showed. There's a reason Russia turned to Vladimir Putin:
The introduction of market-based principles, in which previously closed economies along with the forces of global integration powered by new technologies, suddenly unleashed entrepreneurial talents[.]
He brings up billionaires, not quite getting beyond how they "fly him out" ... and hand him the six-figure speaking fees, fancy vacations on private islands, and a celebrity lifestyle that characterizes his current life. He would have us think he's not enjoying it, and all he cares about are the ordinary schmoes – who, by the way, voted for Trump because of it:
Now, it should be noted that this new international elite, the professional class that supports them, differs in important respects from the ruling aristocracies of old. ... Some even supported Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States, and by virtue of my status as a former head of state, some of them consider me as an honorary member of the club. (Laughter.) And I get invited to these fancy things, you know? (Laughter.) They'll fly me out.
Here's another whopper of lumped together problems told in a way that obscures his own bad record in creating them:
And their decisions – their decisions to shut down a manufacturing plant, or to try to minimize their tax bill by shifting profits to a tax haven with the help of high-priced accountants or lawyers, or their decision to take advantage of lower-cost immigrant labor, or their decision to pay a bribe – are often done without malice; it's just a rational response, they consider, to the demands of their balance sheets and their shareholders and competitive pressures.
So where was he on the flat tax back when he was president? Flat tax is the only thing that breaks these end-runs on the tax structure he decries. Where was he on illegals who benefited these Democrat tycoons who hired the cheap labor? That's right: practically inviting them in as loyal potential Democrat voters. Where was he on manufacturing? Out denouncing the bitter clingers and saying the jobs would never come back.
There are a lot of doozies in that sequence. He throws in bribes for good measure to muddy the waters from his own record. Speaking of bribes, where was he on Hillary Clinton's foundation donations for State Department favors?
It gets worse. Trump voters are his next problem, because Democrats repeatedly say their motivation in voting for Trump is that it's all about their hate for people who "look different."
Because history also shows the power of fear. History shows the lasting hold of greed and the desire to dominate others in the minds of men. Especially men. (Laughter and applause.) History shows how easily people can be convinced to turn on those who look different, or worship God in a different way.
The old bitter clingers, right?
Then there's his tax-the-rich mantra, one that always hits the little guy, not the billionaire Democratic campaign donors he purportedly claims to be aiming at:
For almost all countries, progress is going to depend on an inclusive market-based system – one that ... maintains some form of progressive taxation so that rich people are still rich but they're giving a little bit back to make sure that everybody else has something to pay for universal health care and retirement security[.]
That's his solution, tax "the rich" to pay for bureaucrats and put half the Millennial generation in their moms' basements, for lack of work. We know what that looked like because we lived it.
And then, with perfect opacity, he natters on about how at some point, he's had enough – and praises himself for "giving back" or some such tale, given that he's not:
I should add, by the way, right now I'm actually surprised by how much money I got, and let me tell you something: I don't have half as much as most of these folks or a tenth or a hundredth. ... You don't have to take a vow of poverty just to say, "Well, let me help out and let a few of the other folks – let me look at that child out there who doesn't have enough to eat or needs some school fees, let me help him out. I'll pay a little more in taxes. It's okay. I can afford it."
He blathers on most disingenuously, with a long passage about "facts," which he doesn't have, and Friedmanian talk about "technology," which adds nothing new, then demonstrating his biggest problem, which is that he listens to no one but himself and Ben Rhodes:
Most of us prefer to surround ourselves with opinions that validate what we already believe. You notice the people who you think are smart are the people who agree with you. (Laughter.) Funny how that works.
Best I can conclude from this dreck is that Donald Trump has nothing to worry about from this frozen-in-amber socialist thinking, coupled with a bad presidential record. Been there, done that.