I FIRST POSTED THIS COLUMN ON JULY 7TH 2009. IT’S PRETTY CURRENT, I WOULD SAY.
The Democratic Party leadership is going postal. It’s not just the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. I told you that about her long ago. (Don’t play innocent; everyone has a batty older woman in his family.) I heard her say that some protesters went to town meetings wearing swastikas (plural). That would be convenient for the FBI and other law-enforcement organs of the state!
Of course, conservative bad boy Limbaugh could not resist. He immediately compared the Obama campaign logo to a swastika. Of course it does not matter whether it looks like one or not. Limbaugh’s facetiousness distracts us from the real issues, and we have some.
Harry Reed, chief of the Democrat majority in the Senate has accused demonstrators against the Obama health plan of an attempt to “sabotage democracy.” Puts me to mind of the last leader of the defunct Communist East Germany. As his country was emptying around him, as East Germans voted with their feet, he made noises as if if he could dissolve the whole people he same way a head of government or state can dissolve parliament in some democracies. Reed also reminds me in a small way of Chancellor Hitler, reported to have said before eating a bullet, that the German people did not deserve him after all.
The President himself has been threatening publicly his opponents, promising “push for push.” Get it right, my friends, when I threaten “push for push,” most people smile sardonically. If I were a President, with several large police forces, perhaps an army and, most of all, an IRS, they would not smile; they might blanch. (For those of you who read me from overseas, the IRS is the large, feared, hated federal tax bureaucracy.
One of the President’s information underlings has threatened on television to take names of opponents. Even if her purpose were innocent, her intent would freeze the blood in my veins.
I keep telling you that, for all this, the President himself is probably not evil. He and his entourage are entirely guided by a narrow ideological vision of the world. Of course, that’s redundant. Ideological visions are always narrow, and obstinate, by the way.
Mr Obama cannot begin to contemplate the possibility of self-guided middle-class opponents to his well-meaning policies. In his mental world, exists first the underpaid and exploited masses, America’s “rightful owners. “ (I never use quote marks unless I am actually quoting; I despise those who do.) His is frankly a nineteenth century sociological scenario, right out of the 1848 Communist Manifesto (an interesting document everyone should read, by the way).
Second, in his mind, there are the very rich, all of whom inherited, or more or less stole their money, Bernard Madoff-style. There are two subcategories of the very rich, the good ones who have seen the light and who support and finance his endeavors, and the rest, the bad ones. He can do anything he wishes to the latter because, it’s all for the good of the masses.
Third, there are the “corporations.” The President seems to have no notion that the owners of the corporations are the shareholders, small people like me and, yes, pension funds, including union pension funds. He is of two minds about corporations, on the one hand, his kind have been vaguely cursing them all their lives. On the other hand, now that he is in power, he realizes that many are relatively easy to take over, the way he did with GM, for example. He has not invented but rediscovered the fact that large publicly-held companies, corporations, provide a shortcut to nationalization.
With this narrow view, the President cannot begin to imagine that the anger ordinary citizens have expressed, in the very town meetings his supporters have called, is real. Either, he figures, the anger is orchestrated, or the citizens are not ordinary citizens. There has to be a conspiracy, somewhere, somehow, especially if there is not trace of one.
They imagine “town meetings” ought to be more or less like an orderly classroom: The students ask polite questions; the teacher answers and that’s that. (After all, teachers are greatly over-represented among his supporters. ) Instead, those who attend town meetings often raised impolitely disturbing points and they booed their elected reps’ half-assed answers. Questions and answers were about the health plan no one has read, including those who were supposed to vote on it on an emergency basis.
President Obama sent missionaries to the heathen. Some of the heathen tuned out to be cannibals; they ate the missionaries. I am not talking about Kenya here, but about middle America. No more missions, no more town meetings. Count on it.
On 8/7/09, Fox News interviewed a man who said he had been beaten and stomped on at the site of one of the meetings while selling anti-health plan literature. The event took place in Missouri, the heartland. The victim says his assailants wore Service Employees International Union t-shirts. Two days ago, the SEIU website was calling opponents of Obamacare “extremist fringe” and “corporate front.” It was challenging anyone attending a town meeting to sign a pledge (that is, to give their names). The rest of the posting was equally Stalinist in words and in tone.
Oop, the victim is black! He says one of he attackers called him a “nigger.” It’s hard to control storm-troopers, sometimes. It’s true, I was messing with your minds in the title to this post. Ask yourselves: Why was it so easy?
I am not surprised, of course. In spite of desperate efforts by the administration to send back the ball, in American history, thuggery is associated with unions 9 times out of 10. (Remember the Marlon Brando classical movie, “The Waterfront.”?) Middle-age protesters in clean shirts who are shop-keepers or mid-level engineers and who attend with their wives are rarely goons. And no, Internet agitators are not responsible for the popular protest against Obamacare. I am a blogger. If I wanted to gather a protest crowd using the Internet, on a Saturday at 11 AM in front of the coffee shop, I would be lucky to attract six people. Two or three would be my relatives, another would be the guy who owes me money.
Americans are slow to see evil. Culturally, they have no stomach for badness. However, when a President with control of both houses tries to nationalize 15 0r 20 % of the economy in an inexplicable hurry, with no one having read the relevant text, not even those who are supposed to vote it, they wonder what’s going on. They even get annoyed. That’s not only Republicans. Democrats do to. Independents even more. They know that’s not what they voted for in the presidential election.
Most people have not even begin to discover the massive power grab that the Obama initiatives of the past six months constitute together. As I said, they are slow. That’s not the same as stupid, not by a long shot.
Going back to health care reform. I have written on this blog that something needs to be done about public health and that the Republicans dropped the ball. Yet, the President does not want to be a Soviet dictator, he wants to be French. It’s easy to guess sometimes-chic Michele Obama is nudging him in that direction. The problem is that, in terms of policy, he is trying to push on America what sort of works but that the French are giving up rather than what works well and the French never worry about. He wants French-style health care in the US and does not know how to get there. The French are concluding they cannot afford French-style health care, right as he is doing it. By contrast, he is ignoring the stellar French record with nuclear energy production, the surest, clearest path to carbon footprint reduction.
Note 1: There is a long article in the WSJ of today about the crisis in the French national health system.
Note 2 : For those who don’t know, I am an authority on some of this because I used to be French. I read a French newspaper everyday and I get many reports from France.