by Victor Davis Hanson
All politicians fudge on their promises. But this president manages to transcend the normal political exaggeration and dissimulation. Whereas past executives shaded the truth, Barack Obama trumps that: on almost every key issue, what Obama says he will do, and what he says is true, is a clear guide to what he will not do, and what is not true. It is as if “truth” is a mere problem of lesser mortals.
1. Obama now rails against a pernicious Washington and its insiders: ergo, Obama controls Washington through both houses of Congress and the White House, and wants to expand Washington’s control over the auto industry, health care, energy, student loans, transportation, etc.
2. Obama bashes the Supreme Court on weakening public efforts to curb campaign contributions. Therefore, we know Obama has done more than any other president in destroying public campaign financing by being the first presidential candidate in a general election to refuse public funds — in confidence that he could raise a record $1 billion, much of it from big moneyed interests on Wall Street.
3. Obama calls for a freeze on government spending and deplores deficits. Hence, we know that the possible $15 billion savings in some discretionary spending will not affect the Obama record budget deficits that will continue to grow well over an annual $1.5 trillion a year — as Obama piles up the greatest budgetary shortfalls in any four-year presidential term in history.
4. The president calls for the Guantanamo Bay detention center to be closed within a year of his inauguration, and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the architect of 9/11, to be tried in New York. Accordingly, we know that Guantanamo won’t be closed within a year and KSM won’t be tried in New York.
5. Obama issues four serial deadlines in autumn 2009 for Iran to comply with non-proliferation accords. Presto — we know that Iran will get the bomb unimpeded by U.S. opinion.
6. Obama promised an end to earmarks and lobbyists in government — of course, we assume, then, that lobbyists will be ubiquitous among his presidential appointments, and there will be thousands of earmarks.
7. Obama announces that he will end the war in Iraq by removing all combat brigades by August 2010. As a result, we understand that George Bush long ago signed an agreement with the Iraqis for a joint agreement on removing U.S. combat forces by August 2010.
8. Obama laments that his fall in popularity resulted from a failure to communicate directly with the American people. We conclude as a result that Obama has given more interviews, radio and TV appearances, and stump speeches than any first-year president in history.
9. Obama reiterates that “this is not about me.” That reflects the fact that he has employed the first-person pronouns “I,” “me,” and “my” more than any prior president.
10. Obama assures on eight occasions he will televise all healthcare deliberations on C-SPAN. This is clear proof that nothing will be televised as debate occurs behind closed doors, punctuated by votes purchased through $300 million bribes and state exemptions from federal statutes.
11. Obama promises to be a tax-cutter. So we know that vast new taxes will come through revised income tax rates, caps lifted off payroll taxes, Cadillac healthcare charges, and a variety of surcharges.
12. Obama warned that if another stimulus were not passed, unemployment would reach double-digits; hence, we were assured that the jobless rate would reach 10%.
13. Obama calls for bipartisanship and an end to finger-pointing. Of course, then, he will begin and end nearly every speech with attacks on George Bush and the prior administration.
I could continue ad nauseam, but you get the picture. So why does Obama serially tell untruths, mislead, and do the opposite of what he promises?
Here are four brief reasons. They are complementary, rather than mutually exclusive.
1) He does this because he can. Obama, from college at Occidental to Chicago organizing, has never been called to account. He was always assured that his charm, his ancestry, or his rhetoric alone mattered, while his record, actions, and accomplishments were mere footnotes. He channels our hopes and dreams and need not traffic in reality. We, the people, like the media, have tingly legs and believe the president is “some god,” and therefore need not question the charismatic face on the screen.
2) Obama is a reflection of an era of liberal academic postmodernism. There are no absolute facts; truth is only an illusion in the eye of the beholder. Reality instead is relative, and predicated on the basis of power. Ergo, what others say is true is simply a reflection of their race/class/gender/religion/cultural privileges. Speaking “truth” to power means simply opposing those who, you deem, have more advantages than you and yours.
3) Obama is a neo-socialist who believes the ends of social justice justify most means necessary to achieve them. As a philosopher-king who knows what is best for ignorant lesser folk, who can’t possibly appreciate all the ways in which he works and suffers on our behalf (Cf. Michelle’s “deigns to run”), Obama reluctantly must employ Platonic “noble lies” to achieve the common good: OK, we don’t understand ObamaCare and therefore fear it and the way it is packaged and sold; but once it is forced down our throat, we will come to love — what is good for us.
4) Obama is a narcissist, who believes that his reality is our reality, that his rules are our rules. If the king, the autocrat, the heart-throb, the prophet, or the messiah says something is true, then facts and reality adjust accordingly. Facts and corrections are boring. And if confronted with contrary evidence, the self-infatuated simply smiles with the assurance that the problem is others’, not his.
And it is, sort of.
©2010 Victor Davis Hanson