2012: Crisis and Opportunity Await

by Bruce S. Thornton

FrontPage Magazine

This year will be a time of crisis and opportunity. The incompetence of President Obama is now manifest to all but his most devoted followers, who remain trapped in their progressive Jonestown, chanting the bankrupt mantra of “hope and change” as they stir the vats of government Kool-Aid. For the rest of us, Obama’s economic failures are obvious in the numbers: $15 trillion in debt, $4.5 trillion of it added just during his three years in office; 8.6% official unemployment, while the real number of jobless is more than 11%; the proliferation of job-killing regulations with an average annual cost of $12.5 billion; and a complete indifference to the looming crisis of “unfunded liabilities” created by entitlements, a tab that Andrew McCarthy has calculated at $80 trillion, more than the whole net worth of the richest country on the planet. All these fiscal dysfunctions are concentrated in the trillion-dollar entitlement called Obamacare, a hijacking of one-sixth of the economy that will increase government spending and debt, and strangle the healthcare industry with intrusive and expensive regulations.

This fiscal failure is matched by Obama’s political malfeasance. The “post-racial” president who would transcend party and unite all Americans has been one of the most divisive and partisan presidents in recent history. He has exacerbated racial tensions by recycling when politically convenient the old “whitey done us wrong” melodrama peddled by the race-mongering hustlers and conmen. He even sacrificed his own grandmother to this narrative when he chastised her for voicing the perfectly rational fear of black criminality Jesse Jackson had once articulated. Lately his Attorney General Eric Holder, who once called Americans “cowards” on the subject of race, has been Obama’s racialist Luca Brasi, using the coercive power of his office for his boss’s political advantage. Look at Holder’s ongoing legal thuggery against South Carolina’s voter-ID law, one similar to others already deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court. With a record of dismal failure, not least being a worsening unemployment rate for black Americans, Obama must scare black voters to the polls in November by conjuring up dusty Jim Crow bogeys. As for the coming fiscal apocalypse, all Obama can do is play the class warfare and class envy cards, increasing income redistribution disguised as “stimulus” spending, as he castigates the “rich” for not “paying their fair share” — even though the top 10% already pay 70% of federal income taxes, and confiscating all the wealth of Forbes magazine’s richest 400 Americans would barely cover Obama’s 2011 deficit.

Then there is the crony capitalism that rewards political friends like the United Auto Workers and the “green energy” industry with tax-payer-funded bailouts and subsidies. Perhaps even worse are the disastrous policies the sole purpose of which is to gratify his political base and make sure the campaign donations keep flowing no matter how much damage such decisions inflict on the rest of the country. The refusal to approve the Keystone pipeline, which would create up to 20,000 jobs and replace the oil we now import from thug regimes like Hugo Chavez’s with oil from a friendly Canada, is the most egregious example of partisan opportunism in recent memory. And it is just the latest decision — think of the ban on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill, or the EPA’s assault on coal-fired power plants — that has harmed our economy and national security merely to gratify the juvenile nature-love of well-heeled bicoastal liberals.

Obama’s foreign policy has been equally disastrous. To give him his due, he has kept in place much of the George Bush anti-terror apparatus he vilified as a candidate, though the proscribing of water-boarding has taken away an interrogation technique that generated reams of intelligence, including the information that allowed Obama to enjoy one of his few triumphs, the killing of Osama bin Laden. And his liberal use of drone attacks has been a cause for cheer.

But these few achievements are dwarfed by the more numerous failures. The attempt to push the “reset” button with Russia by negotiating an unfavorable arms control agreement and backing off anti-missile installations in Eastern Europe gained us nothing but Russia’s firmer intransigence against supporting meaningful sanctions against Iran. His “outreach” to the Muslim world, replete with protestations of American guilt and fantasy histories of Islamic tolerance and cultural achievement, has made America even more unpopular among Muslims than it was under George Bush, and done nothing to secure our national interests and security. Obama’s groveling courtship of the mullahs in Iran has earned him nothing but contempt from a regime that continues to kill our soldiers, develop nuclear weapons, and most recently has threatened to close the straits of Hormuz.

The abandonment of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and the “leading from behind” collusion with France and England in removing Gaddafi in Libya — with no clue about what sort of regimes would replace them — was another grievous error. Obama sacrificed our national prestige and security to gratify fantasies about liberal democracies midwifed by tech-savvy “Facebook kids,” who are now marginalized by Salafists and the Muslim Brothers eager to impose illiberal Sharia law. The precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, another decision based on politics rather than national interests, has instantly been followed by sectarian violence that threatens the fragile government we left behind, and opens up opportunities for a predatory Iran. Meanwhile, our staunchest ally in the Middle East, Israel, has been bullied and treated with contempt, her security endangered by this administration’s incompetence. Obama has managed to convince the world that being America’s friend is much more dangerous than being America’s enemy.

This litany of failure culminated at the end of 2011 with the report that the Obama administration has been reaching out to Muslim Brother jurist Yusuf al-Qaradawi to help broker a deal with the Taliban. Qaradawi is a virulently anti-American and anti-Semitic fanatic who has called for the murder of American troops and Israeli citizens, and who champions jihad as a means for expanding Islamic Sharia law and recreating the caliphate. Worse yet, Obama is offering in return to release Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo, remove sanctions against the Taliban, and recognize those fanatical murderers of Americans as a legitimate political faction in Afghanistan. Like the administration’s delusional fantasy that the Muslim Brothers are “moderate Islamists,” this misbegotten “outreach” reflects massive ignorance and ideological myopia that the greatest power in the world simply cannot afford to indulge.

So much for the crisis, one brought to a head by these failures. But we are not doomed to sit passively by and suffer the consequences. Leave such determinism to the progressives and their materialist superstitions. We have it in our power to choose a different fate and to make our own history. The obvious opportunity we have this year is to vote Obama out of office, along with as many as his fellow-traveling congressmen as possible. This means we should end as quickly as we can the internecine primary squabbling and inquisitions into ideological purity, and choose as candidate the one who has the best chance of winning.

That much is obvious. But we also have to acknowledge that our problems reflect not just a bad president, but our own failures and betrayal of our defining political principles. I cannot do a better job of explaining these than political philosopher Paul Rahe does in his magisterial book Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift, based on the remarkable prescience of Alexis de Tocqueville: “In consequence of our abandonment of our religious and moral heritage, of our rejection of the spirit of individual responsibility and the principles of limited government, over our own people today . . . there ‘is elevated an immense, tutelary power,’ whose aim is to take ‘sole charge of assuring their enjoyment and of watching over their fate.’ In America . . . this power is ‘absolute, attentive to detail, regular, provident, and gentle.’ It works willingly for our ‘happiness,’ but it exacts a price, for ‘it wishes to be the only agent and the sole arbiter of that happiness.’ It provides for our security, it foresees and supplies our needs, it guides us in our principal affairs, it directs our industry, it regulates our testaments, it divides our inheritances, and it covers the ‘surface’ of our society ‘with a network of petty regulations — complicated, minute, and uniform.’. . . Only on the rarest of occasions ‘does it force one to act, but constantly opposes itself to one’s acting on one’s own; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it gets in the way: it curtails, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies.’ And step by step, relentlessly, with every passing day, as we gradually succumb to the spirit of irresponsibility and self-indulgence, this power grows in influence and scope, making us more and more like ‘a herd of timid and industrial animals, of which the government is the shepherd.’” Obama’s America is evident in every detail of this description.

The central challenge this coming year, then, is not just to win the election, but to effect a sea of change in our own thinking and expectations. This year the opportunity we must grasp is to shake off these bad habits of passive dependency accumulated under Republicans and Democrats alike, and return to the vision of the Founders: a republic of free and autonomous citizens who take responsibility for their own fates and managing their lives, and reject the “soft despotism” of the federal leviathan. Getting rid of Obama is just the first step.

©2012 Bruce S. Thornton

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