Conservative commentators, led by Rush Limbaugh, keep referring to the President as a person with evil intentions, bent on implementing evil designs. What precipitated the torrent of right-wing invectives is the fact that it’s become obvious that every one of the President’s extravagant initiatives has failed or is failing.
Note that nothing I wrote above tells you anything about what I think the administration should have done, if anything. I usual, I am taking power at its own word. The President announced repeatedly that the many measures he pushed or tried to push through Congress would accomplish X,Y and Z. The so-called stimulus package is only one of those, of course. As I speak, his health care reform plan is half-dead and it has triggered open rebellion among “the masses.” (Yes, I know the President never actually used those words in public. I am just reading his mind.)
The only bright exception to the disaster that has met the Obama initiatives is the “cash for clunkers” programs. It turns out to be both a boondoggle and a demonstration of the validity of conservative approaches to economic problems: Give people their money back, they change their behavior. Rush Limbaugh reports that the beneficiaries are buying more Toyotas and Hondas than GM or Chrysler. I have not checked this assertion. It’s what the liberal press calls a rumor “too good to check.” Besides, Fox News said the same thing today at noon.
I believe the President is not very evil, much less than some past presidents, at any rate. The problem, as I have said several times on this blog, is that he is a man who has never accomplished anything in his life. He did nothing as a state legislator, nothing in the US Senate, nothing as a law school professor, and nothing he wishes to brag about as a “community organizer.” By the way, we still don’t know his grades.
Think of Mr Obama as a mediocre academic, a breed I know well. He never had to face the real world as long as enough of his students liked him. University administrators liked him too, as they like anyone with a black face who is not an object of embarrassment or of scandal. He was never tested, either in the real world or in the academic world.
Like many academics, including good ones, he knows what he knows and he does not know what he does not know. He views every problem as something that can be thought through, experience be damned, hard facts are secondary.
His entourage is something else. He did have very bad friends, and not only the race-baiting pastor and the aging, unrepentant terrorist. That’s what happens if you really love power and you have no particular talent. You have to try to chum up with all kinds of people, including scum.
Two things place the President at odds with many of the ordinary citizens whose compliance he seeks. They are his vision of how the world works and basic values.
Because I have known so many of his kind in my thirty years in academia, I think the President does not fundamentally understand the counterintuitive idea of the market. It’s not obvious he ever took a single economics course and if he did, whether he passed. It’s not that he is stupid; rather he dismissed the idea when he was young and has never given it another thought. He did not have to because he was surrounded by authoritarian collectivists. He is narrow-minded for the same reason many conservatives don’t know what they are talking about when they say, “socialist,” or “Marxist.”
His moral values also differ from those of I don’t know how many Americans, and they are inconsistent with the tradition embodied by the US Constitution, for example. I am pretty sure he dismisses the preamble to the Declaration of Independence as an interesting historical document of little contemporary relevance. So, he prefers equality to fairness, and comfort to liberty. He finds redneck vulgarity distasteful and the vulgarity of self-made rich men even worse. Culturally, he is barely American. (And I don’t care where he was born; that’s a dead horse, as far as I am concerned.)
There, you have it, irreconcilable differences with many of us! That’s serious enough. We don’t have to add evil. To do so is unfair.