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obama's Dour Vision

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by Unite Our Nation, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. Unite Our Nation

    Unite Our Nation New Member

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    "The Founding Fathers idea of 'change' was more modest"

    "Barack Obama's victory speech Tuesday night had fine grace notes. He wants to pull away from the "partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long." Well past due on that one. He noted a party of Abraham Lincoln "founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share." And the way such values are kept alive is by a victor's thoughtful mention of them. His remarkable win was truly "not hatched in the halls of Washington," a fact that contributed much to his support from an electorate disgusted with the federal institutions at both ends of Washington.

    That said, it might be useful to ask at this early stage what, precisely, is President-elect Obama's understanding of the American idea? What I take away from his victory speech is that his sense of America in our time is fairly depressing, a lot more dour than my sense of America in 2008. Throughout the campaign, Barack Obama ran against the "failed" presidency of George Bush -- his "failed" economic policies, his "failed" war in Iraq and other failures of the Democratic punching bag. In his victory speech, though, Mr. Obama appears to be describing a generalized failure of America itself.

    It emerged in the speech's first sentence: "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."

    He presumably is referring to the election of the first African-American president, an achievement. Is it true to say, though, that this alone proves that "the dream of our founders is still alive in our time?"


    Many phrases and passages in the speech suggest an America in a kind of collapse. "It's been a long time coming." "The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep." He believes his campaign volunteers "proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory."

    A benign explanation would be that either Mr. Obama's friend Ted Sorensen or his talented young speech writer need a tutorial in the perils of over-writing. This untethered rhetoric is Sorensian overkill. Harder to account for is the persistence of Mr. Obama's grim vision of where we stand now. This was nowhere more evident than in his passage about 106-year-old voter Ann Nixon Cooper. These were the six "Yes we can" passages.

    Like the "failed Bush presidency," "Yes we can" was appropriate as a campaign punchline. Here, however, it punctuated points in U.S. history that Mr. Obama clearly sees as analogous to our current condition. These include the "despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land," the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Montgomery bus boycott and the day "a preacher from Atlanta" delivered his We Shall Overcome speech.

    Barack Obama won this election because voters, in their pedestrian way, want him to restart the stalled, damaged economy. The election was won the night of Sunday September 14, when the financial crisis exploded. Before that, he and Sen. McCain were in a virtual tie, when the generic Democratic nominee should have been well ahead of a candidate tied to the out-of-favor Republicans. Doubts among undecideds were holding down his numbers. The market meltdown and loss of confidence in the nation's economic stewards gave him his win.

    In what way is this a mandate for "change" similar to the economic restructurings of the dust-bowl years or the social legislation of the mid-1960s? Yet again in the speech: "I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand."

    This takes us well past George Bush and Dick Cheney. Remake this nation? Calloused hand by calloused hand?

    Any nation is a work in progress, with problems worthy of public attention. None in the U.S. -- none -- tops the collapse of the urban public-school system. It is a little insulting, though, to imply that the America of people and institutions -- private enterprise and public officials -- who've worked the past 40 years to move the nation forward somehow don't measure up to "the founders' dream." When in this context he asserts, "Our union can be perfected," one pauses. Efforts to achieve the abstraction of national perfectibility can prove a dicey proposition.

    An alternative explanation for all this would be that Barack Obama is given to grandiosity. The famous Greek columns in the Denver stadium. Among the many Obama supporters who made his case to me the past year, I doubt many would say this level of grandiosity was what they had in mind amid constant assurance that Sen. Obama is a moderate, pragmatic man.

    It might make sense between now and his Inaugural Address for the president-elect to lower his flight path. Among the images evoked by Greek columns is the myth of Icarus. The Founding Fathers idea of "change" was in fact more modest than Mr. Obama's, a reality worth pondering lest he take his followers too far aloft."
    Write to henninger@wsj.com
     
  2. Libsmasher

    Libsmasher New Member

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  3. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    ......forgetting all the nauseating fluff and cringing rhetoric the part that will be telling for you all is this...

    In the cold light of day you still have bills to pay, jobs to find, lives to lead and whilst the fine words and fluffy rhetoric provided a blanket of comfort and indeed may still be echoing sweetly in your ears, Obama will not solve all your problems. Already you're having your expectations managed "government can't solve every problem" is a reference to the fact that the campaign speeches are over and reality is about to click in. From a man that is extremely deliberate and calculating don't expect to much change once the legions of Whitehouse briefers have brought Obama up to speed on how the "real" world outside the stump looks.
     
  4. Unite Our Nation

    Unite Our Nation New Member

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    Score about 1000 for The Scotsman!!!


    Wish you weren't right...
     
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