by Victor Davis Hanson
Some Modest Obama Predictions
1) We will begin to hear, ever so insidiously, mention again of the “war on terror”; some quiet memo will go out to cool all the talk of ‘man-made disasters’ and ‘overseas contingency operations’.
2) Either shortly or soon next year, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano will resign. I don’t see how the nation’s point woman on domestic terrorism can claim that the system worked like “clockwork” (she has since backtracked) when the Nigerian terrorist’s own father contacted American authorities long ago to warn us about the proclivities of his own son, who came within seconds of blowing apart a transcontinental jet. The system worked only at the 11th hour thanks to a courageous Dutch tourist who took matters into his hands.
3) I think the overseas bowing, apologizing, and kowtowing will stop in 2010 — it brought no tangible results. Indeed, Obama is one bow away from global caricature and humiliation. And when one examines the recent behavior of Iran, Russia, Venezuela, or Syria, one concludes that they all think they can make favorable readjustments in regional landscapes and power relationships in 2010. Obama’s advisors will try to stop his natural inclinations to apologize, and I think will be successful — given the gathering storm clouds of 2010.
4) We may hear something finally in support of the Iranian dissidents. The ‘reach out to Ahmadinejad’ line has failed. And Iran will probably get the bomb in 2010. Since we will not ratchet up sanctions or impose an embargo, the only hope to stop a theocratic bomb will be regime change — and that may prompt some Obamians to speak out on behalf of the courageous rather than worry whether the murderous will meet with us.
5) We will hear lots of talk about fiscal sobriety next year. Obama realizes that the $2 trillion annual borrowing is unsustainable and warping his foreign policy as well as his own sense of stature. He also knows that “they” who will pay increased income, payroll, health, and state taxes are simply not numerous enough to end the deficits, and may slow down or find ways to reduce income exposure — as the combine tax bite goes over 60%. As a result, we can expect some sort of federal excise tax or stealthy fees, or at least some euphemism for finding more revenue.
More taxation won’t get close to balancing the budget by 2012, but might get us in four years back to where we started in 2009 with the Bush 2008 deficits — after adding another $8 trillion in debt. Fiscal sobriety, not more spending, will be the 2010 campaign slogan. But even here expect the Orwellian: after establishing himself as the largest spender in U.S. presidential history, Barack Obama will a) hope and change it all, as if “Bush did it”, b) assume that by talking eloquently about fiscal responsibility he has de facto achieved it.
The Tired Race Card
One Matthew Yglesias (whom I have seen quoted, but whose books or articles I have never read until today) wrote something that was just sent me called, “That Old Time Racial Paranoia .” In it, he suggested that I was a racist to have suggested Obama sees things from the prism of race/class/gender orthodoxy.
But surely anyone who collated Obama’s self-described (cf. his 2004 interview with the Sun-Times [“Yep. Every week. 11 o’clock service.” Ever been there? Good service.”]) dutiful attendance at Rev. Wright’s racist pulpit, reviewed his friendships with Father Pfleger, Rev. Meeks, and other Chicago activists, went back over his Pennsylvania clingers speech, remembered his “typical white person” quip, added in his rush to judgment “stupidly” remark in the Prof. Gates mess, recalled Michelle Obama’s “mean country” slur and first time she was proud of the U.S. remark — anyone who did all that, would conclude that, yes, an apparently strong influence in Obama’s worldview is the assumption that oppression is predicated on race. (If I had gone to one religious service in which my pastor evoked the sins of black people in collective fashion, then I would have left in shame of my attendance.)
Indeed, almost everything Yglesias wrote in his short hit piece is untrue or ill-informed.
1) It is not “odd” for any college professor to conclude that campuses operate in large part on the basis of race/class/gender politics. Just pick up a course catalogue, review the career of a fraud like Ward Churchill or the Duke rape case, and read some memos from campus administrators. Sorry, there is really no other conclusion to draw about current campus politics.
2) After quoting me on how race, not salary, predicates assumed victimhood, Yglesias claims “this, according to Hanson, is the essence of “Obamaism,” a view that can be summed up by the idea that “Michelle Obama could make $300,000 and she will always be more a victim than the Appalachian coal miner who earns $30,000, by virtue of her race and gender.”
Here Yglesias is simply disingenuous and deliberately falsifying. I did not write “this is the essence of Obamism.”
Instead I listed three catalysts that might explain his present agenda: one, historical sympathy with progressive statism; two, multiculturalism (”But there is another element to Barack Obama besides progressive statism”); and three, rough-and-tumble Chicago politics. Yglesias simply took the second argument, claimed that it was the entire argument, distorted it, and played the race card — a tactic we will increasingly witness in 2010 as Obama stays below 50% in the approval ratings.
3) I wrote not a word about healthcare, the basis for Yglesias apparent argument that I am racialized. Rather, in section two, I explained why the affluent Obamas have for decades had opportunity to appeal to past victimization for redress, and that such distinctions no longer really apply in a world where many other factors other than race determine salary and status.
My point was not to demonize them, but simply to show that racial preferences, gender preferences or supposed class preferences do not necessarily explain poverty or real need for redress. Michelle Obama herself has written (cf. her senior thesis) and, recently in 2008, spoken about her sense of unfairness at an elite Princeton. And she has repeatedly evoked the ‘raising the bar’ metaphor for her own travails, despite her high salary, and accoutrements of wealth.
After Obama’s own comments about rural Pennsylvanians, there is no need to review my point that the affluent like the Obamas see themselves in ways quite differently from the rural poor who cannot claim racial or gender compensation.
4) Yglesias ends with the now accustomed race card:
“Hanson’s heavily racialized view of what’s happening in American politics seems about 99.9 percent projection. And yet it’s apparently a popular one on the right.
Let me get this straight: one writes that Obama’s foreign policy, healthcare plan, appointments, rhetoric, and fiscal policy reflect 1) a traditional statist approach to politics; 2) the multiculturalism found in our elite universities; 3) a tough Chicago way of business — and therefore one is a racialist (”heavily racialized view”).
A personal note: as for Yglesias’s flippant “apparently a popular one on the right” — I have lived most of my life outside of Selma, a rather poor community, somewhere between 70-80% Hispanic, with a large population of illegal aliens, many of whom are my immediate neighbors.
My three children went to the public schools. Except for a weekly commute to Palo Alto, I don’t see or deal much with those outside of Selma. As for the fairness of healthcare, the last time I went into the local emergency room for a broken arm, everyone there was receiving good care regardless of income (I was the only one of about 40 with health insurance who was speaking English). Outside of treatment for emergencies: In the local area, I have had both oral and kidney surgery the last four years, and another procedure scheduled this month: the majority of patients I see in the specialists’ offices and at the lab are the non-white, the apparent non-wealthy, and often the non-English speaking.
I can attest that the bills for surgery and lab work are substantial, so I assume that before Obama arrived on the scene to alter the protocols of 1/8th of the U.S. economy, there was good medical care afforded the poor, the non-English speaking, and in many cases the non-citizen (somewhere around $25 billion was sent to Mexico this past year in remittances, so there is such a thing perhaps as discretionary income not applied first to healthcare insurance costs in the U.S.). I have had long hospitalizations in the past abroad as well as surgery; my impression is that the American medical system provides better care for its indigent than most countries afford their wealthy.
There are plenty of ways to improve our system (private healthcare accounts, tort reform, the infusion of cash payments, more competition, incentives for fitness, a safety-net for the poorest, public awareness to use discretionary income to purchase catastrophic healthcare plans, etc.), but the present socialization of the system in not the answer — as the stealth and corruption surrounding the bill’s passage attest.
On a final note, I invite, in sincere fashion, Mr. Yglesias to visit my farm, stay a bit, tour the environs and compare it to his own neighborhood and past surroundings. We can visit various clinics, emergency rooms, and private doctor offices that I use, and through autopsy adjudicate the level of medical care for the poorer in attendance.
Such a strange phenomenon — as Obama’s polls dive, and the voters begin to see that the centrist moderate, whom they thought in 2008 that they were voting for, is in truth an ideologue, his supporters are reduced to calling critics “racialists.” That is the blueprint for 2010.
A final, final note: As a rule, I believe in unfettered free speech, and so don’t monitor the comment sections. I welcome both those who agree, and, as is often the case, vehemently disagree, to post what they want. But the site coordinator cannot always keep up with the volume to ensure its civility. So please, try to avoid slurs, extreme language, racist epithets, and false accusations of racism, whether from left or right. Again, thank you for the well-informed postings and have a Happy New Year!
And let us pray for a 2010 better than 2009.
Article printed from Works and Days:http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson
URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson/on-the-horizon/
URLs in this post:
 backtracked: http://hotair.com/archives/2009/12/28/video-now-the-system-didnt-work/
 That Old Time Racial Paranoia:http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/12/that-old-time-racial-paranoia.php
©2009 Victor Davis Hanson