by Victor Davis Hanson
And On It Goes
I support the President on Afghanistan and am relieved he did not pull out of Iraq as once promised (all combat brigades out by March 1, 2008 — he said during his initial campaigning).
That said, almost a year ago, I wrote  that the Democratic congressional chest-thumping for Afghanistan, as the good war, would cease as soon as Bush left office and that Afghanistan, not Iraq, was always going to be the harder, messier war in the long run.
Just as the John Kerrys of the world lined up on October 10, 2002, to authorize the Iraq war to bolster their security fides in what they then thought would be another walk-through, only to bail with “Bush made me vote that way,” so too they sought cover in anti-war protest over Iraq by praising Afghanistan as the good war, thinking it was won, Iraq was lost, and Bush was in power.
Now Bush is history; Iraq is quieter; Afghanistan is heating up. So? An Obama invasion into Pakistan in ‘hot pursuit’? I don’t think any of them ever realized that they would own Afghanistan and their own bellicose rhetoric would come back to haunt them. Have there been any New York Times exposes about our post-Jan. 20, 2009 Predator assassinations in Pakistan, in which we obliterate houses, families and all, without Miranda rights or habeas corpus (what candidate Obama himself once deplored)? (And if the State Department was supposed to oversee private guards responsible for embassy security in Kabul, and the State Department in turn was responsible to the White House, does the administration have culpability in the fashion that the rogue sex-pervert guards at Abu Ghraib, supposedly reflected the Bush-era military? If we blow up 90 in Afghanistan is it a war crime, or an honest mistake? When you turn the media into Pravda, it becomes impossible to keep the party line straight sometimes.)
But other than continuing past policy on the two wars, almost everything Obama had done is consistent with his past associates (Pfleger, Ayers, Wright, Khalidi, etc.), his past vocation (grievance organizing), and his past methodology (most partisan in the Senate, surrealistic Senate campaign in which foes mysteriously dropped out, the Axelrod/Emanuel Chicago way, etc.).
We all know that a good healthcare system can be improved by increased competition, tort reform, tax credits for catastrophic insurance plans, deregulation, etc.
But Obamacare is not really about medicine. It is rather aimed at absorbing more of the private sector — once more, to create a vast new constituency of government workers and beneficiaries, to ensure an equality of result in treatment and access, and to replace private health insurers with public bureaucrats. (I got a taste of the future of the government octopus when I went last week to a California DMV office, and noticed that all the state employees at the windows had on purple union T-shirts with “organize” and “solidarity” emblazoned across them.)
In other words, in the Obama mind, would you want an autonomous family practitioner, entrepreneurial, keen to adapt to patient needs and tastes, juggling 10 employees and a 2-million-dollar family practice budget, grossing $400,000 a year in profits, highly opinionated and self-reliant, using his profits once in a while to ski or buy a BMW — or have him transmogrified into a GS-something, at $100,000 a year, with government benefits, unionized, docile, and waiting to go home when his shift at the dreary government clinic ends, wearing his doctor union T-shirt to work and eager to vote in politicians who ensure him lifetime tenure, generous retirement packages, and guaranteed pay raises?
The War Against Those Who Want To Get Rich
Then we have the “spread the wealth,” “redistributive” class warfare rhetoric, demonizing everything from Vegas to those earners who might make over $150,000 (I love the way the President keeps saying that people “like me” should pay more. Actually, few have had access to Tony Rezko’s spread-the-wealth tips, or have wives that get $100,000-plus raises when their husbands become Senators, or have had a lifetime government tenure of some sort). In just nine months, the President has created a near class war — with one provision: the technocracy like Dodd, Geithner, Murtha, Rangel, etc. are exempt from the high taxes and government monitoring that they feel is critical to inflict on others.
Gorge the Beast is the new philosophy. At a $2 trillion-a-year-deficit clip, and new borrowing for cash for clunkers, health care, cap-and-trade, etc., we will get taxes—federal, state, payroll, and surcharge—that will soon take 65% of the income of the “rich.” The IRS will grow and become more intrusive. The point?
Like it or not, by April 16 of each year we will all make about the same: those who make “too much” will return their stolen goods; those who were fleeced and “make too little” will receive it back through recycled entitlements, with the proper amount skimmed off at the top by the technocracy, immune from the very statutes they craft.
Fuel and Fiber
Nearly 50% of our electricity is generated by coal, a critical fuel that will prevent collective bankruptcy until cleaner sources become economical. Obama once promised to “bankrupt” the coal industry. Joe Biden said there would be no more coal plants. The rather strange buffoonish Van (“change the whole system”) Jones, the environmental czar of some sort, has declared clean coal impossible (and in addition slurred American agriculture, which according to the Energy Secretary Chu will blow away in California [not an unreasonable musing given the Delta smelt]).
No need to mention that Obama’s campaign deference to offshore drilling, natural gas, and nuclear power were just sops of the moment, quickly to be forgotten once elected. Energy taxes will mean sky-high prices and shortages. Again that is the point: the rambunctious ignorant American should put away his energy-stealing boat, SUV, and snowmobile, and instead live in accordance to the green dictates of an Al Gore, John Kerry, Tom Friedman and others, all once again, properly exempt from the effects of their own ‘small earth’ advocacies.
“Oooh. Van Jones, Alright! So, Van Jones.”
Well, the post-racial candidate had given us a 95% black monolithic voting pattern in the primaries against a fellow liberal candidate. Add up Rev. Wright, Father Pfleger, the clingers speech, an exasperated Bill Clinton’s assessment of “playing the race card on me,” “typical white person,” ‘wise Latina’, the Skip Gates mess, the Van Jones’ white polluters, the satraps like Gov. Patterson and Reps. Rangel and Watson reverting to blatantly racist scapegoating, and so on.
I fear that this is the most polarizing administration we have seen in matters of race since the 1920s. If those around Obama, and his supporters in Congress, had just substituted the word “black” each time they have angrily invoked the word “white,” they would have been branded abject racists.
How strange that we now learn of Van Jones’s long record of venom, but are told that he did not really mean it, and that the White House was unaware of these statements. Yet we know that Jones was selected because of, not despite, his provocations. Cf. Obama honcho Valerie Jarrett’s ecstasy: “Oooh. Van Jones, alright! So, Van Jones. We were so delighted to be able to recruit him into the White House. We were watching him, uh, really, he’s not that old, for as long as he’s been active out in Oakland. And all the creative ideas he has. And so now, we have captured that. And we have all that energy in the White House. [emphasis added]”
Your America Then, Mine Now?
Then we have the Al Arabiya interview, the Cairo speech, and the “I’m sorry” to everyone from the Europeans to Turks to South Americans. The common denominator has been agreement that the United States has been racist, oppressive, and exploitive rather than far less so than the alternative, given these transgressions of the past are the sins of mankind not those of Americansper se.
When I heard Obama in the campaign promise reparations (quickly retracted), and more victimization studies, I knew where we were headed: namely, that we have someone like the Chairman of the Ethnic Studies Department or the Head of the Sociology Department now running the country.
In America of 2009 the following are “true”:
The Arabs invented the printing press, and spurred us on to the Enlightenment and Renaissance. Muslims in Cordoba advised the brutal Christians to show tolerance during the Inquisition. Slavery ended in America without violence. The Berlin Airlift was a worldwide effort. The Americans liberated Auschwitz. There are 57 states. FDR was President in 1929 and gave television addresses. We can either drill offshore or inflate our tires properly.
There are no terrorists or a war on them, but only overseas contingency operations and man-made catastrophes. Those who object to healthcare are ungodly, and the nation’s children must go to school and see the messiah address them en masse on state-run television screens. Nazis, brown shirts, a mob, insurance lackeys, Brooks brothers elites, etc. all go to town halls. Doctors chop off limbs and gleefully take out tonsils for profit. George Bush is our Emmanuel Goldstein whom we must hate collectively each morning for a couple of minutes.
Rather Angry People, Given their Middle-Class Backgrounds and Past Entitlements
Our environmentally-correct czar believes that we were behind 9/11, that whites pollute poor neighborhoods on purpose, that American agriculture is pathological, that Republicans are “assholes” and so on. He is the ideological version of the buffoonish Robert Gibbs. What do they teach at Yale (and Harvard) law school? Is admission there synonymous with graduation?
The new Supreme Court Justice thinks that some judges are better than others based on their gender and race. The Attorney General (we are “cowards” afraid to talk about race) wants to try agents of the CIA, not hunt down terrorists that plotted to destroy America. No wonder, in a past incarnation he helped to pardon terrorists from Puerto Rico for similarly careerist purposes.
The Government, All the Time, Everywhere, All of Us…
In short, we are now in theory to be governed by enlightened despots and philosopher kings who have never run a business, never understood private enterprise, and never been off the government payroll, but always hypercritical of their opposites. We have suddenly dozens of czars — how better to avoid Senate confirmation? To sidestep existing checks and balances? To substitute administrative fiat for majority-vote ratifications? To enact hope and change without messy town hall-like recriminations against elected officials?
Given all this, an unhinged activist like a Van Jones is not the exception, but emblematic of the new frontier. All the old wisdom, the old reverence are going by the wayside, replaced by a brave new world in which we will be the same in spirit and outlook, committed to replace truth with orthodoxy, roughly equal in ability, neither successful nor failures, neither rich nor poor, nothing “exceptional” at all, mere happy cogs in the brotherly redistributive wheel — mouthing platitudes about diversity and being green, clueless as to their meaning, but clued in to the necessity of chanting such mantras.
And given the President’s rhetoric, and the media as our new ministry of truth — we will be more or less happy idiots, as the old fades and the new absorbs us.
All I can say is non hic porcus, not yet, not by a long shot.
©2009 Victor Davis Hanson